It’s been a while since I last wrote about email marketing but judging by the number of unsolicited emails I’ve been receiving over the last month or so, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.

Email marketing

Cold email marketing is a contentious subject.

Yes, you need to let people know you’re out there, but sending random emails to people you have never met in the hope of striking up a relationship, rarely works.

First, your timing must be spot on; the recipient must be in the market for what you’re selling the instant your email lands in their inbox.

Second, a cold email is akin to a cold phone call, and we all know how annoying they are.

Third, if the recipient is not expecting your email, it will be treated as spam (assuming it gets through their junk filter) and consigned to the rubbish bin.

Email marketing is too easy

That’s not easy in the sense of writing successful emails, rather because you can rattle them out quickly and blast them out to hundreds or thousands of recipients in one hit (without having to pay for extortionate amounts of postage).

After a quick glance at your missive, you click send and stand back preparing yourself for when the phones start ringing.

And that is precisely why your email marketing is not working.

Your email marketing list

Don’t make the mistake of buying in a list in the hope it will bring in new customers. It won’t. For a start it won’t be targeted. Second you won’t know how accurate the contact details are. And finally, far from getting your company’s name out there, it’s likely to land you on the ‘annoying cold email’ list.

Think about this for a moment. What happens when you receive an email from a company you’ve never heard of before that’s trying to sell you something you haven’t asked for?

You delete it. So why would the recipients of your cold email do anything different?

If you’re going to do email marketing, it’s vital you contact people that know you and in the market for what you sell. That’s why building your own opt-in list is a much better idea.

For starters, the people on it would have heard of you and, secondly, they have given you their email because they are interested in what you have to offer, so your email is going to be relevant to them.

Yes, it takes time to build a list, but use every opportunity to get people to sign up: at trade fairs, during phone enquiries, when people visit your shop or showroom.

What does your email say?

Is it telling the recipient about your products and services?

Have you added a call to action directing them to your website or your phone ordering line?

Are you asking them to buy from you?

If it does, you’ve just committed the second most deadly email marketing sin.

Think about it, they don’t know you, they have no relationship with you and yet you want them to buy from you. By diving in and asking them to buy from you, you’re likely to be met with a lukewarm-bordering-on-frosty reception.

First, you must gain their trust.

Introduce yourself. Offer them something first such as information that will be of value to them.

Over time, they will get to recognise that your emails are packed with great insights, tips and hints and general warm and fuzziness.

The advice you offer and information you give (free of charge) reflects well on you making you the go-to authority in your field.

So, when they are ready to buy, whom do you think they’ll get in touch with first?

  • The company that bombards them with sales or emails
  • Or you who has been putting their needs first, giving them great information and advice without wanting anything in return?

I know who I’d put my money on.

Yes, you can include any offers or new products/service in your email, but make sure you also offer them useful information and advice first. The reference to your products should almost be an afterthought.

Put your customer head on

Once it’s written, read it as though you were the customer. If it landed in your inbox, what would you do?

Is it too salesy?

Is it pushy?

You see, email marketing is all building trusting relationships.

Sally Ormond, email marketing copywriter