Don’t Make These Email Marketing Mistakes

Email Marketing Done Wrong

The email you see above is an actual email I received after test driving a car.

I’ve blurred out the company and their contact information. The point of this post is not to call out the company involved, because they certainly aren’t the only company/people making these types of email marketing mistakes.

Take a look at the image and follow my remarks below based on each email marketing wrongdoing:

1. Lazy  “Hello” Formatting

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Is it that hard to test this email once and notice there’s a space before the word “Hi” and an extra space after the [NAME] field? These simple formatting issues may seem trivial, but it’s an immediate red flag to me that this isn’t a personal email at all. Instead, it’s an email marketing program connected to a CRM. I’m intelligent enough to know a person from a big company isn’t emailing people individually, but they should at least do some format testing for these types of emails.

2. Paragraph Formatting

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I don’t know about you, but I found it very distracting that whoever formatted this email started each sentence on a new line. Again, this is a small thing, but it’s distracting and it feels like I’m reading some awful car dealership poetry. Customer outreach emails should be written by people with copywriting experience. You want people to respect your company as a professional organization? Put in some effort.

3. Missing [NAME] Fields

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This happens all too often and it’s a real bummer. “My name is ,” is a silly mistake to make. You either aren’t taking the time to set up your custom fields or you didn’t test your message before sending. Either way it shows a huge lack of attention to detail. Why would I want to do business with a company that doesn’t take the time to get the little things right? If they messed this up, can I be sure they won’t mess up my loan paperwork (in a car dealership example)?

4. Missed Window of Opportunity

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In this email it says “I’m told you stopped by recently.” I received this email on January 31, 2014. Do you know when I stopped by their car dealership? February 2013. That’s almost a YEAR later and they wrote that I stopped by recently. I haven’t received any other emails from them in the past year, this is the first. Not only did your window of opportunity close, this makes you look disorganized.

5. Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

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The line “I won’t wonder if we dropped the ball in some way” assumes that they might already know that they dropped the ball. When I read that line, it immediately made me shake my head. This entire paragraph (three separate sentences) should be changed to something like:

“If you could answer one question, it would help our dealership offer better service in the future. What could we have done better to sell you the vehicle you were interested in:”

If they were using a CRM, they should know what vehicle I looked at and be able to include that where the word “vehicle” was used. Again, attention to detail and effort.

6. Copywriting (again)

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Read question #1 out loud. Did you feel like Ron Burgundy when you read it too? And what’s the deal with question #6? To me that sounds like people get treated poorly by sales people and sales managers often. Here’s how I would write the listed answers:

  1. I was hoping to get a better deal on the vehicle.
  2. The trade in offer I received wasn’t satisfactory. 
  3. I’ve decided not to purchase a vehicle at this time.
  4. I purchased elsewhere.
  5. Other?
  6. Would you be interested in talking to me directly? Please respond with a phone number.

The key here is focusing on customer service. I bet dealerships and other organizations would be surprised if a real human being offered to talk to them about their potential purchase. Yeah, you probably wouldn’t convert many of those calls to sales, but customer service isn’t just about sales. You’d hope to at least make that customer feel like they were treated well and had a positive experience they’d never forget.

7. Put A Name Behind Your Emails

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To me, this is the biggest mistake made in this email. Never once could I identify with an actual human being. Instead, I was interacting with some vague “General Sales Manager” person. This doesn’t feel like great customer service. This doesn’t feel like they care about me at all. This feels like a computer generated message with a computer waiting to get a response on the other end. Put a name behind your emails. Humanize your brand. Engage with your customers and actually care about them.

*BONUS: Unrelated or Unprofessional Email Subject Lines

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In what fantasy world is it okay for a company, let alone a car dealership I don’t have a relationship with, to use the subject line “the suspense is killing me”? Just stop it. This alone is completely unprofessional. If you’re a business, be a business. Don’t use cute or silly subject lines (unless that’s part of your business). Be direct. Be to the point. Don’t waste people’s time.

It’s safe to say we see email marketing mistakes made like these all the time. Email is sacred. It’s not a tweet that disappears in a matter of seconds. It’s not a Facebook post that may or may not ever be seen. Email gets sent directly to someone’s inbox, and that’s an extremely precious opportunity these days.

I’m putting way more effort into email marketing than I am social media right now, and I think you should too. Just make sure you’re putting in the time and the attention to detail when you do it.