6 sins that email marketers commit every day

I believe it was Billy Joel who said, "You're not the only one that makes mistakes, but they're the only thing that you can truly call your own," before belting into the rest of the song about second chances. Well Billy, that's not necessarily true.

There are a slew of common mistakes that the majority of marketers make every day and they can be as detrimental as a clown trying to navigate a minefield. Thankfully, Mr. Joel got one thing right, especially when it comes to crafting and sending emails. Read on to find out what these common errors are and what you can do about it.

Nobody likes long letters

Unless of course they're love letters explaining how great you are. But let's take a look at newsletters or email adverts: They speak about what a business is doing, how great it is, and why it is in your best interest to jump on board. It's understood that you need to make your company look attractive to readers, but do you really have to make it the length of a Dickens' novel? Reading through long emails is about as fun as root canal. So, Keep it short, informative and interesting -- like Tyrion in "Game of Thrones."

All work and no play doesn't pay

We work for a purpose. No one in their right mind would work and expect to get nothing out it whatsoever. In today's world people expect instant gratification for minimal effort. So why do e-marketers continue to make something as simple as opening an email sound like colossal work? Some subject lines that you see in your inbox these days begin with words that seem to be asking for atonement of a deadly sin. Some examples include "Analyse and Decipher," "Your Input Required," and "Call for Speakers," etc. Alright, so maybe comparing these dud subject lines to atonement is a little over dramatic, but you get the point.

Nothing is free. If you want the attention of a consumer, offer something in return -- it's only fair. Studies show subject lines that offer something for minimum effort achieve the most results. Begin with subject lines that imply this return investment such as "Simple Link Changes," "6 Easy Actions," or "How to."

Use words that imply minimum effort for your subscribers, and you'll receive a maximum return.

Paint a picture

Everyone is going on about balance -- balanced opinions, balanced diets, and balanced reporting. And the same approach can be applied to email marketing.

The balance that's important in email creation is your email's text to image ratio. If your newsletter is filled with enough text to make George R.R. Martin jealous you are probably heading in the wrong direction, if recent stats are anything to go by. Then again, if your newsletter reminds someone of an art gallery a bad date dragged them to, it's not going to perform well either and is bound to be unsuccessful.

If you balance text with images you can't go wrong. Some email service providers offer professional templates that suggest the ideal amount of image to colour to text ratio. This way, your emails will never look like Picasso's night terrors and keep your subscribers from being terrified.

Always use alternative functions

That kid who always makes the team but never gets to play is kind of like the alt text function. It's a brilliant function and absolutely necessary, but is never really used -- until it's too late.

Alt text is displayed when an image in your email fails to display for whatever reason. It is the only thing that stops your readers being presented with a screen full of the grey you associate with terribly mixed drinks and cheap cocktail bars.

All decent email service providers offer a function that allows you to add alt text to your document -- so use it. Put it in as a backup player for your star images, and you may be surprised how much it can shine.

Snipping the snippet

No, a snippet is not a creature out of Harry Potter. It's also known as an email pre-header -- that short description that comes just after the subject line and is often slightly greyed out. There are too many snippets that are completely ignored, and instead the content of the email itself (or first couple of lines) are used to fill the empty void left by a careless email creator. Don't leave your readers with a sense of emptiness. Fill in that pre-header with something engaging.

Here is where marketers tend to make errors again. They remember to add a snippet but then completely forget why they put it there in the first place because they fill it up with irrelevant and long text. A snippet needs to be short. The very word itself sounds like it's begging to be brief. Long pre-headers end up missing the point because the only thing they end up explaining is the incompetence of the person sending out the email.

Keep the snippet shorter (but relevant) and your client list will grow longer.

Move to mobile

In 2014, email opens on iPhone and iPad alone cumulated into 39 percent of the market share. Back in 2011, Microsoft Outlook held 37 percent. In fact, 47 percent of email is opened on mobile phones -- that's 47 percent of your client base that you are either losing or annoying.

Optimizing your email for mobile use couldn't be easier with modern email service providers, and today it should be a standard. However, there are still quite a few email marketers that insist on having their clients scroll in all directions to read about a "quick one-time offer."

There's nothing sadder than a digital dinosaur. Don't become extinct. Adapt to the times and stop embarrassing your kids and you too will be allowed into email marketing heaven.

Mark Brown is a copywriter at GraphicMail.

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