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This is the story of a company that ran their email campaigns in-house, but wasn’t getting any feedback, responses or sales. So they contacted us to improve their email marketing campaigns.
As always, the first thing I did was visit their site and sign up for their email list. When their next campaign ran, I noticed something very interesting. The email didn’t contain any content. There was no message, images or call to actions. Apparently they had been sending out blank emails all along.
This kind of mistake is catastrophic and, yes, even irresponsible, but it’s not uncommon. While most companies don’t fall into this extreme scenario, it points out glaring mistakes in the organization’s process.
Mistake: No Knowledge Of The System
The email system used was not a system I had ever heard of, but nonetheless the person responsible for email campaigns did not have a basic understanding of how the system worked. When a problem arose, the solution was a variation of the “click everything until something happens” variety.
Mistake: No Automation
Every email was being crafted from scratch for every campaign even though the system had a templating system.
Mistake: No Testing
Once the campaign was assumed to have been set up, it was scheduled and never checked again. No test messages were ever sent to the person setting up the campaign. Nor were messages tested for any technical or content flaws.
Mistake: No Group Review
There was no process for what messages were being crafted for a campaign and no messages were delivered to anyone within the organization. There was therefore no widespread knowledge of the content of the campaign or when they went out.
While nothing can be done to fix past campaigns there were some very basic recommendations we made.
Recommendation: Learn The System Or Move To A Different One
If your business is going to be committed to an in-house email program, someone in the organization should be proficient in the tool that does the delivery. In the case of my client we recommended that they shift their operation to MailChimp because MailChimp has a more user friendly interface and better support. If you feel more comfortable with Constant Contact or any other service, that’s fine if you learn it and know how to contact support when the inevitable crisis arises.
Recommendation: Test Your Emails
Wow. I can’t believe I’m even writing those words. Never – and I do mean never – send out a campaign until you have seen it first in at least one email program. Even better; view the campaign in as many email programs as you can. Many of the best services can simulate what your campaign will look like in different email clients, but I like the real thing.
While sending yourself a test is essential, sending a test to multiple people for peer review is even better.
If your email campaigns are based on blog content, you may be able to automate the campaign so that an email is delivered upon a new post being published. This requires some up front set up, but has the benefit of being fairly hands-off. The campaigns sent by Web.Search.Social mostly trigger based on a new article being published. The exclusive emails sent on Thursdays are sent manually because they contain information that is not available in the blog. For both, we have a process and a checklist so that we don’t inadvertently miss an important detail.
Recommendation: Peer Review
While typically one person is responsible for the mechanical aspects of the campaign, there should be a small group internally that reviews the content of each email before it goes out. Mistakes and the occasional typo are common so give yourself as many pairs of eyes as reasonable to catch them before your campaign goes out.
Recommendation: Add Your Entire Team To Your List
When your email goes out, everyone internally should receive it. It keeps everyone in sync when a promotion or campaign triggers and also helps in building a sense of community within the organization. It also helps to have everyone internally see what the outside world sees. Often times, an internal employee with no connection to the campaign may see an email blast and offer up good insight or suggestions.
There’s another benefit to having everyone on the list. There are times that we look at the clock and realize that our campaign has not fired because we haven’t received the email. That’s our cue to go into WTF mode and find and fix the problem. Getting the emails also exposes us to errors or omissions early so that we see them before they are brought to our attention.
So Who Is The Most Important Person On Your Email List?
YOU. You (and your team) are the front lines against problems and mistakes when it comes to your email campaigns. If you don’t receive your own email, you’ll never be able to test, review, reconsider or improve your emails. It’s a simple step but it’s a crucial one.
The Happily Ever After…
My client ended up sending out better campaigns and their unsubscribe rate diminished and people began to respond to messages and promotions in the emails. In the end, email still provides the best ROI out of any marketing channel, but only if executed properly.
Now that you know about my experience, I want to see your email campaigns. Post the address of your newsletter in the comments below and I’ll sign up.
If you’re frustrated with your campaigns or need some help, consider hiring us to get you going in the right direction.
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