Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Head Scratching Marketing - Emails That Confuse

From time to time I get email marketing campaigns that just make me scratch my head and say, "Are you kidding?".  Over the last month or so I have received a couple of these that I felt might be worthy of sharing.

To me marketing is to get a person's attention so that you can build a "relationship" with them and ultimately get them to buy something from you.  Getting their attention could mean providing them some value without asking for anything in return.  It is about being remembered.  So that when they have need for your product or service, you are the first person/company they think of.  That is called building a brand.

I subscribe to a newsletter of DIY wellness, cleaning, and recipe type blogs.  This woman is pretty well known in this space and actually has a cute, catchy moniker as well.  She has a fairly large following.  I won't share that moniker here because I really wish her no ill will.  I just found her most recent tactics very confusing.  She has a Facebook page with over 63000 likes.  She clearly has a brand.

10/26 I received this email:

"Hey you :)

It's Monday here in (insert city) and you crossed my mind as I was getting up this AM. (this is
 's email right?)

If you need a quick confidence boost today to take on the week, you should give (video hyperlink here) a quick look (basically perfect for you).


Keep it REAL,"

A couple of things to point you.

1.  I don't know this person, so I couldn't have crossed her mind
2.  See the highlighted text where she was clearly supposed to "mail merge" my name in there

Then on 10/29 I got this email:

"Hey you :)

Your name popped into my head as I was taking a walk this morning. (this is 
Lori's email right?)

If you are truly serious about keeping yourself healthy this season, you should give (link to a blog post here) a quick look (basically perfect for you).

  1. Remember, I have never met this person.
  2. She got the "mail merge" right this time.  But it is clearly a mail merge - the text is even in a different color.
11/10 email:

"Do I KNOW you? I mean you read my blog and this newsletter...but do we KNOW each other? Here is a story of one dedicated reader who I truly have gotten to know. Her story of transformation is right (insert link to blog page) 

I know you need (insert link to recipe)  to go with this story.


  1. Confusion - I know you, you crossed my mind while I was walking but do I really know you?
  2. The two sections of this email had nothing to do with each other.  A success story and a recipe.  Creates more confusion.  Each element by itself provided some value but put together was confusing.

Then today 11/17 I received the following:

"I don't think we've met (have we?) If you are like - 'I totally know you' then can you do me a favor?

Can you either 
(insert link to survey monkey) to tell me about your situation (and introduce yourself!)

...or click the little link below to unsubscribe from my list if you found this by mistake...

Go ahead and pick one now. If you chose to do neither, I'll go ahead and unsubscribe you manually.

(I know you're busy and I don't want to send you occasional emails if you're not interested!)


(Insert Writers Name Here)

PS - Text me if we did actually meet and I'm just having some brain fog (Insert Writers Phone # Here)"

So is anyone else confused?  Let's face it marketing is emotional.  These four emails took me on an emotional roller coaster.  Here are thought processes that went through my head.

  1. I chuckled at the first email.  It was very clear that she was trying to relate to her readers and make a personal connection.  For me, that failed.  It was very easy to see through.
  2. When I received the second email only a few days later, I thought actually was a little annoyed.    I wondered who she thought she was fooling. Again, she was trying to make a personal connection.   But I liked her content so I thought I would stay subscribed to her emails.
  3. There was some value in the third email.  But honestly, I only went back and read this after I got email number 4.
  4. Then I received today's email.  Seriously?  What the heck.  I am so confused by what she is trying to do.  She will unsubscribe me if I don't fill out her form?  

Here are a few points:

  1. She does have products and things she is selling through her posts.  Why would she unsubscribe someone that has been a faithful reader for a long time?
  2. She clearly has no control of her database of prospects (more on that later in a post about the value and importance of data in CRM).
  3. The tone of her email is meant to be lighthearted and helpful, but there is a subtle threat.  Fill out my form or I will unsubscribe you.
  4. The language used here, like totally offends my old fashioned ears.  If her target market is middle school and high school girls, go for it.  Otherwise, that sort of thing can turn a reader off quickly.
I am not writing this to throw this woman under the bus.  She is clearly successful in many areas.  Writing email campaigns is tricky and poorly written campaigns can easily turn people away from you and your brand.  Here are a couple tips.
  1. Always add value!  Share something of value in every email, a photo, an article, a study.  Something - please!
  2. Always have a catchy subject line.  Her second email was "What I am Doing Tomorrow"  You have all heard of the "who cares" test.  If you ask who cares about your subject line and the answer is nobody.  Your email most likely won't be read.
  3. Always have a call to action.  I would not suggest your call to action be either subscribe or unsubscribe. Post a link to your website, or contact information at a very minimum.
  4. Have one main point for each email.  Keep focused on the main point and don't try to add value by going off in some other direction.
  5. Use language that speaks to your target market.  Of course you first have to understand your target market but that is another subject!  
  6. Be personal.  Personalize the email, but PLEASE be sure the personalization works before you send it to 63k readers.
  7. Be warm, be engaging, care.  You really do want your readers to like you.  Remember people buy from people they like.  Read more about that here.
There are many great articles out there about email marketing with many more tips and tricks.  Read them before you send out emails that chase away your customers and/or prospects.

So what do you think I did with her last email?

Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her prospects and clients.  She is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events and trade shows.  If you would like to learn more email her at lori@totaldisplays.com

1 comment:

  1. Update. Just after I hit "post" on this. I got another email.

    Oops! Big Oops! Even I make mistakes sometimes. You just got an email from me saying that I didn't know you. That's because I sent the email to you by accident! I am sorry for any confusion and you will not be unsubscribed to my list so you can disregard the email.

    With blessings and gratitude,

    PS - Clearly I need to take a nap today. Ahem.