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6 Reasons Your Email Marketing Campaigns (Might) Suck

Jan 3, 2008
Chances are your Email Marketing campaigns could use a little boost every now and again. Internet Marketers especially, seem prone to making the errors outlined in this list. Read on to see how to correct these mistakes.

1. You're Only Selling, Not Adding Value

This is one of the worst offenses out there. Are you simply plugging and chugging your list with affiliate promotion after affiliate promotion? Is that why you got into Internet Marketing or your field of expertise?

If so, chances are, many of your users are abandoning your list, ignoring your messages and/or forwarding them to the junk pile.

Wake up, people! Your subscribers want you to add value to their lives.

Tell them an anecdote of how you raised your income by X% by doing Y and Z. Or about a new site you just launched, and some of the lessons learned while developing it.

Even better, tell a tale of when you actually failed, and the lessons learned from that experience.

2. You're Boring

Let's face it, many Internet Marketers lead "lives of quiet desperation." Sure, it may not be politically correct to say so, but the fact remains that a vast majority of people do not succeed at Internet Marketing, or any profession for that matter.

The vast majority of people, are, well, average. Don't fall for the Lake Wobegon Effect, as Garrison Keillor puts it, "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

If you must, get out there and spice up your own life in some way, shape or form. Engage in some new experiences that you can then take back to your list. Read an autobiography of a famous person that you'd normally never read, chances are you'll learn something new that can be applied to your business and shared with your readers.

3. You're Not Being Real

Again, this ties into #1 and #2 -- but are you, really, "keeping it real" with your list?

The comedian Dave Chapelle has bit where he talks about keeping it real. He says (paraphrasing), "are you ever around someone who's fake, and it makes you be fake too? They say, 'Howdy, how ya doin?' and you reply back 'I am feeling greaaaat, by golly.'" (he says it in this great fake white guy accent. are you ever like that though?)

Internet Marketing often has the same problems faced by those who operate Boiler Rooms, MLMs or other activities wherein it is believed that 'Success Breeds Success.' Too often there is a "fake it 'til you make it" attitude taken by many marketers.

How often have you seen a screenshot of Clickbank earnings, but *never* corresponding screenshots of AdWords expenditures?!?

Anyone can earn $5,000 on Clickbank if they spend $7,500 on AdWords! But how many marketers actually come clean and lay bare their real, true strategies?

How many actually throw to the dogs (your hard-earned subscribers), their true secrets (those that aren't simply rehashed methods taught by other marketers)?

For once, just once, try giving away some value instead of selling it packaged in an ebook for $37. Your users will value this and will flock to you, telling their friends who in turn tell their friends.

Jeremy Schoemaker did this at his blog ShoeMoney.com, which is now read by 13,000+ feed subscribers daily and is in the Alexa Top 5,000 sites on the Internet.

4. Your Message Comes Across as Hype

This also relates to some of the previous reasons, but it's worth noting. Even if you are promoting an affiliate product, it's probably a good idea to temper your enthusiasm with some sound, honest criticism.


"Even though the Widget Money Bomb Maker seems like the best thing since sliced bread, chances are it will require some solid effort on your part to get the system up and running. Get Rich Quick Scheme, this is not."

Your users will appreciate your honesty.

5. Your Campaigns Aren't Sexy Enough

If you're in the Internet Marketing field, then this might not be as applicable to you, since everyone does text-only and chances are it's for a reason (better conversions).

But if you cater to another demographic, it probably helps to use an off the shelf HTML template or one built by a skilled graphic designer.

Jazz up your campaign with HTML, images and an optional text-only version for those users not using HTML-capable email readers.

Also, always allow your readers to view your newsletter online, by clicking a link within your message.

6. You're Attempting to Hold Your List Hostage

Not only is this one important for their sake, but if you *don't* do this, you could end up taking a shower with Bubba at the federal pen! SPAM laws have become tough in recent years, so much so that you don't want to mess around with Uncle Sam on this one.

Always make sure your users can easily unsubscribe from your list. Chances are, how exactly this gets handled is beyond your control, as it is most likely dictated by your subscription list management software.

Adding Value, or Holding Hostage?

Your goal should always be to add value. By putting 15 line breaks before your "Unsubscribe" message at the bottom of your list messages, you're just making yourself look like a cheeseball / amateur -- someone afraid that their unsavvy subscribers will actually figure out how to scroll down and click "Unsubscribe".

I'm sure some well-known Internet Marketers will disagree with me here, but the goal is not necessarily to minimize the absolute number of unsubscribes from your list, but rather to add value to the lives of your subscribers, thereby increasing your bottom line as well.

In conclusion, I recommend you think long and hard the next time you hit the Send button to your subscribers.

Ask yourself, "does my message today add value to their lives?" ... or "am I just selling snake oil?"
About the Author
Preston Danforth contributes regularly to Scam Zappers , Gadgetometry , DealBonzai , The Poker Guide and Medcare Scoop .
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