It’s enough to make an email marketer cringe. An unchecked subject line with a blatant spelling error. An ESP mishap that results in pushing send—to thousands of the wrong audience. This is the dark side of the inbox. The good news: all of these blunders, and countless others, are avoidable. The first step is knowing the mistake and why it’s important to be cautious.
Subject Line: Nothing
One of the most common mistakes found in the inbox is a faulty subject line or pre header. Recently, one of North America’s favorite superstores sent an email without a subject line. The email’s content was flawless and well organized; but the lack of subject line made it impossible to look at anything except other potential errors. Subject lines are instrumental in initially engaging a user, the lack of which can change the whole outcome and interest in a message.
Lesson learned: Proof your work. Even better, put a system in place to catch errors as a team, like a QA process. A simple checklist and an extra set of eyes can work wonders.
When more than one email with the same subject line hits the inbox within seconds of one another, the sender has a segmentation problem. Over the past month, Instacart goofed by sending multiple instances of an email to individual subscribers. How does that even happen? Segmentation may be an obvious culprit, but the lack of a suppression is the real issue in this case. A suppression guarantees that the right audience will receive the email and, most importantly, will only receive it once.
Lesson learned: Make sure the campaign is not confused with SPAM by thinking through your suppression tactics. Make a suppression plan when you are thinking through strategy—not on the fly.
There are certain spoken and unspoken rules of the email marketing trade. In a recent email from Old Navy, one of those rules was broken – “Re: thought you’d like 40% OFF on these.” Using the term RE at the front of an email is very close to crossing the imaginary line between appropriate and spam-like. FWD and RE should be reserved for email activity between individuals, not a company. Tricking a subscriber into opening an email is not only sneaky, but also not a best practice.
Lesson learned: act like the company you want to be treated as. Tricking a subscriber into opening might lead to higher clicks in the short term, but will put a ding in your brand reputation in the long term.
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