Why Email Marketing is Broken, and How To Fix It

Email is brokenEmail marketing is broken but still remains a strong communication channel… Most business professionals spend an unprecedented amount of time per day (28% of the week to be exact) chained to their inboxes responding to countless amounts of email! This would make one think: if you have such a captive audience, then why is email marketing so broken? Well, it isn’t broken; it’s the way the majority of businesses structure their messages that makes it broken.

When you break down the messages from most email marketing campaigns, they fundamentally fall into a few categorical buckets, but they tend to focus on one thing: the sender of the message and not the receiver. Let’s dive in a little deeper on this. Most campaigns can fall under the following buckets: deals, product catalogues, and the super generic sales message. As a bit of an exercise, go into your inbox and find the last ten or twenty marketing messages and you’ll find that they fall into one of those few categories. You’ll find subject lines similar to the following: “Final days To Save 20%”, “Special Offer”, “Register for this event”, or the ever so cleaver “Did you see my last email message?” and “Can we talk at 3pm?”… In this day and age, we are truly amazed that any of these messages even work at all…

I’m going to personally pick on Lyft as an example. Personally, I use Uber, but once—and only once—I had to use Lyft. And as a result, every few days they hit my inbox with a new “compelling” marketing message… but are they really “compelling”? For starters, you’ll see on March 14th, 17th, 31st, and April 4th, their key message was 10% off, with three emails entitled “Ends Soon” with a date of April 9th. Seems compelling right? Well, not so much… On the 10th of April, only one day after that 9th deadline, they hit me with a 25% off special. As you can see from the screenshot below, every single message over the period of four months is essentially the same! I’m using Lyft as an example, though they are certainly not alone; I have an untold number of businesses that use the very same tactic, which makes those “compelling offers” not so compelling…

Lyft Marketing Campaign

This is essentially why email marketing is broken for so many today. The majority of campaigns focus on the great deal, showcasing a product, or those very witty generic sales emails (that quite honestly are not so witty). The only time these messages happen to work is when you happen to catch someone right about to make a purchase where saving 25% would be valuable. Otherwise, your emails are getting deleted or unsubscribed the minute they hit their inbox.

To unlock the secret of email marketing, you need to stop thinking about traditional email marketing and the idea of needing to generate sales with every message… There is a rule of thumb in sales that four out of every five touches should be non-sales related. This essentially means that the majority of your outreaches to a prospect or customer should be adding some type of value to them beyond asking for a sale (and, no, 25% off messages are not adding any real value to them). Translated into email marketing, that means that at least four out of every five campaigns should be non-sales related… When you can fundamentally make this shift as an organization, you’ll find that not only do you stop people from unsubscribing or deleting your emails, but people actually become engaged with your campaigns. As an example, let’s pick on Lyft once again… What if instead of constantly bombarding their prospects and customers with yet another 10 or 25% off special, they found more creative messaging. As a consumer, topics that would get me to at least open the email would be something like: “Top 10 Tips for Keeping Safe While Using Ride Sharing Apps”, “Did You Know Ride Sharing Costs x% Less than Traditional Cabs?”, “How to Use Ride Share to Plan Your Next Trip”, “The Top 10 Things Your Lyft Driver Would Like You to Know”, “Legislation is Trying to Kill Ride Share. Here is How You Can Fight Back”, “The Top 5 Reasons to Ride with Lyft over Uber”… These are just a few messages that literally took me about five minutes to think up and would compel me to at least open the email… Now, I only pick on Lyft because I am a fan of Ride Share but use their competitor, Uber, and through their marketing communications, Lyft has given me zero compelling reasons to shift.

Therein lies the secret of email marketing: don’t make the message about you, make it about your customer. And again, no, a 25% off promotion is not a customer-centric message. The core of successful marketing campaigns is to find ways to continuously engage your prospects and customers by finding ways to add value to their lives. Topics that are informative and educational are exponentially more successful than your more traditional methods. There is also an interesting byproduct of utilizing email marketing in this nature, and that is creating a more informed and educated buyer… These types of buyers tend to take less time in the decision-making process and end up becoming more successful customers who are more likely to buy again, renew, or refer additional business. Email marketing done right can completely change how you function as a business…

Stuck on ideas for content for email campaigns? Here are a few tips:

  • Recent industry news
  • Addressing questions about the industry
  • Addressing frequent sales or support questions
  • Addressing legislation questions
  • Sharing an interesting use-case for your solution
  • Sharing cost of process savings stories
  • Customer testimonials

When it really comes down to it, almost anything directly or tangentially related to your company, industry, or solution are all areas that can be explored more to help keep your clients and prospects engaged via email. Once you start a strong stream of educational and informative content, it doesn’t hurt to drop in a sales-related email from time to time… Once people begin to trust your email brand, those 25% off offers will then become more valuable over time…. Finally, if you’re struggling on what messages work best, you can always address that via AB Testing which we discussed in another article. Finally, if you need assistance tackling this change of marketing methodology, you can always contact 3SixtySMB directly at 3SixtySMB@3SixtySMB.com.

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s