Why we think 98% of email marketers are wrong

I know this is a bit controversial, but we think that most of the marketing emails you get are following the wrong principles. After all, the emails we actually respond to are emails that look like they come from our friends, aren’t they?

About 7 years ago when Amazon really started to get real traction in the marketplace, they started this really clever idea of emailing you about the items you’ve been looking at but not bought.

And it worked.

If you spent the afternoon drooling over the 24 box set but didn’t buy it, you’d get no-so-subtle reminders about it in your email inbox for weeks. I fell for it.

In fact a whole micro-industry of ‘Cart Abandonment experts’ has sprung up, and now, smart shopper know that the cheapest way to buy anything is to register on a ecommerce site, put something in your basket and then click away from the page (almost guaranteed you’ll get a discount voucher via email within 24 hours. Doesn’t work with Amazon though!)

However several things have happened in the last few years that we believe has changed the impact these kinds of emails have on consumers.

  • Consumers have become savvy to this (thanks to smart-arse people like me who tell them about Cart Abandonment Strategies!)

  • Mobile email clients (like the native iPhone Mail app) are now more popular than desktop clients (e.g Outlook) and not only do they make it much easier to delete email without opening it, but they never really render emails how the author intended

  • Overuse of template-based emails has meant that if you get a nicely formatted email, you know it’s a mail-shot and not an email written only to you by someone who cares.

So the real opportunity here is to use non-templated, non-salesy, non-HTML emails to talk to your custoners, so that it looks like you’ve sat down and written an email only to them.

Of course, we’re not going to try to deceive anyone here, but the second you see an well designed, email with a logo, a header and a big button, you know it’s been sent to a list that you happen to be on.

The other thing to consider here is that a lot of mobile users have images turned off as standard in their email client (I know I do) so no matter how well your email is designed, there’s a very sizeable portion of your recipients who will just see empty space where your lovely images should go. (See image above).

So if you really want to get ahead of your competitors, make your emails as different from theirs as possible.