Monday, May 2, 2011

Email Marketing Missteps Monday (and Other Days)

1. Apology emails

2. Lame email subject lines

3. When it comes to sales calls and email follow ups, more isn’t better

I've been on the road again for almost two weeks. A number of things happen when I travel for business; I manage my time better (imagine that?!); I am more critical of emails (that waste my time), and I spend a lot more time thinking, analyzing and observing people.

While away, I was bombarded with apology emails. Marketers discovered last year (2010 seems like eons ago, doesn't it?) that apologizing for an email screw up was endearing to customers. So they started "screwing up" on a regular basis and sending silly emails with subject lines like “We screwed up, and we’re really sorry.” When consumers switched off to this nonsensical tactic, like in September 2010, most email marketers wised up and moved on to the new/next email trick.

But clearly some marketing laggers are still churning out "we are sorry, we screwed up" emails. Ever heard of the boy who cried wolf? I guess not.

Can you stop clogging my inbox and find something more original please? Do it now, or forever be banished to opt-out hell.

Lame Email Subject Lines

Working in the communications business, I'm constantly confounded by the lack of creativity or testing by marketers. (I'm going after email marketers again today). In the last two weeks, I've received an email offering me a birthday discount (my birthday is in December), an email to sign up for Nutrisystem (I guess someone snitched on my unhealthy love for Poutine), an email offering an AARP subscription (I am a good 10 years away, thank you very much), and a multitude of poorly timed, and poorly targeted offers.

No wonder people have switched off to email.

More is better? Not always

Some people believe that more is better. More caviar Madam? Definitely! More Sauvignon Blanc for you Madam? Yes please! More headache pills Madam, you look rather faint? Absolutely!

But there are some things that don't improve with quantity. Like sales calls, or the same sales email every other day. Selling is a tough game. I got out of it years ago. Consumers today are unforgiving, and woe behold the sales person that catches me at the wrong time, or on the wrong day.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we've shoe-horned ourselves into a way of life where we want everything, but that demand varies from day to day - even hour to hour. Businesses are as much to blame by accommodating our indecisiveness, and demand for instant information and gratification.

My particular experience started when I inquired about a software solution. I filled in the questionnaire and then it began. We had the demo, the follow up sales call, the quote, the email, another email, ANOTHER email, and then the ultimatum. Sign now, or you miss out on the discount.. Sign now, or you miss out on a free set of (whatever).

As a marketer (and salesperson), I've come to learn that pressure and intimidation tactics do not lead to long-term relationships or the nurturing of good clients. Those deals might engorge your sales quota for the period, but not much else. Good clients buy a product or a service (usually) on its merits, and the timing of their business needs.

So instead of applying pressure about your commission deadlines and your needs, why not try a different approach that focuses on my needs (I'm the customer, remember??), instead of yours.

That may be a novel approach for some sales people and marketers, but it’s an approach that usually works.

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