10 Email Crimes I Uncovered Registering a Domain Name
(Which Ones Are Killing Your Sales?)
Don’t send out another email until you’re sure you’re not committing one of these email crimes.
Anyone of these can cause your readers to hit unsubscribe faster than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism.
I recently registered a new domain name.
No big deal, you’d think. Just a routine administrative task.
But registering the domain name itself wasn’t an issue.
It was the 100 or so unsolicited emails trying to sell me web development, SEO and related internet services.
While most of them came from businesses in India, one word can be used to describe all of them.
If you send emails to prospects using any of these approaches, you’re not simply losing customers.
You’re repelling them.
Here’s 10 marketing crimes you should never commit when trying to engage your audience unless you want to kill your sales.
Warning – the images below are from actual emails I received from internet marketers. If you’re sensitive to cringing, you may not wish to proceed.
Here we go . . .
[Really] Poor Audience Targeting
Facebook has some amazing tools for drilling down to unearth an audience that would most benefit from your product or service.
This usually means a more relevant message for your reader and higher sales for you.
Not so these intrepid marketers.
They know nothing about me, my resources or my intentions with my newly acquired domain name. This makes it nearly impossible to present a relevant, targeted message and offer.
Instead I received almost 100 unsolicited, badly targeted emails randomly offering everything from SEO services, website development and graphic design to outsourced IT services. They almost unanimously boasted “highest quality” with “lowest prices”.
As an antithesis to the standard marketing objective, they end up sending
the wrong message
to the wrong person
at the wrong time.
Subject Lines that Scream ‘Junk Mail’
The late, great Gary Halbert told how he observed people sorting their mail at the post office.
People divided their mail into two piles. What he called the ‘A’ pile and the ‘B’ pile.
‘A’ pile letters were opened while ‘B’ pile items hit the bin unopened. If you want your message to be read, you obviously want to be in the ‘A’ pile.
The simple observation was that if an item even looks like junk mail – it hit the bin without a conscious thought.
He used this observation to develop a direct mail campaign that saw over 600 millions letters distributed and earned over $20,000 per day.
The letters looked hand-typed, used a first-class stamp, had a local postmark and looked like they might have come from a friend.
The same principle applies to your emails.
If your subject line looks like a blatant sales pitch, you’ll see your open rate plummet.
Here’s some actual subject lines of emails I received. Can you guess which ones are junk mail (a.k.a. SPAM)?
S.E.O. Special Offer Website!Plan Website Design/Redesign Specialist web designing Request for a call ? Very Low Budget ( Seo Service) Proposal……………….! E-commerce Web Development (PHP,CSS,WORDPRESS)……………..#% Hire Web Designer and Developer at low cost SEO Proposal -“50 keywords Organic SEO @ $400 per month” Create your website________Low Price Proposal…………..SEO Mobile Apps Development !!
Give yourself a Gold Star if you said “all of them”
I suspect 99.99% of the recipients of these emails simply hit the delete key without reading beyond the subject line.
What could they have used as a more enticing subject line?
Well, here’s a subject line from an email I received from Direct Marketing legend, Drayton Bird:
Why most ads fail
This curiosity arousing headline could easily be modified for intrepid marketers as:
Why most web designs fail
The email could first discuss problems which cause website development failure before showing how their services provide successful results.
Here’s another example from Thrive Themes who have a well honed – and relevant – marketing machine in place.
Can you think how this could be modified for an interest service provide flogging SEO or web development services?
It’s Not You. It’s Me.
Henry Hoke, a leader in direct mail for many years, advised to remove all offensive words from your sales copy.
The most offensive words in sales included:
If you managed to convince your audience to even open your email, your opening line should have a single objective.
Convince them to keep reading.
And the best way to do that is . . .
. . . talk about them!
One common way is to address a burning problem your reader has perhaps by pointing out the elephant in the room.
That is, your message should start with your reader, not with you.
Here’s the opening lines from some of them emails I received. Can you tell which ones are about me and solving my problems?
Well done if you got the right answer – a big, fat zero.
It’s all about them, who they are and what they do. I really don’t care if they have 100+ IT professionals on staff.
And one of my favorites:
You’re kidding, right? He wants me to read his boring company profile before I even know who they are and – more importantly – why it’s relevant to me.
Compare this to the email from Thrive Themes where the opening line was:
This opening line is both response raising and divisive (which is a good thing).
It’s divisive because either my reader believes selling is hard or they don’t.
It’s a simple question which divides the herd.
If they don’t believe selling is hard, they’re not my target audience anyway, and I’m not going to try to convince them otherwise.
If they do believe selling is hard or challenging, they know this email relates to them.
In their head they may even be thinking, “yeah, it is” or “I wish I could do something about it”.
Ka-ching! You’ve just entered the conversion already going on in your prospect’s head.
Not Using Your Audiences’ Language
David Ogilvy, one of the original Mad Men of Madison avenue (waaaay before the TV series) stressed the importance of using the language of your audience when he said:
I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.
Do you think or talk like this?
How about this?
Neither do I.
The lesson here is simple.
Discover how your audience thinks. What they say. What language they use. There are simple strategies for doing this.
Your writing should reflect this as much as possible – punctuation and grammar be damned.
Not Focusing on the Outcome
There’s a common marketing maxim which says that people don’t want to buy a drill bit; they want a hole.
This marketing maxim is wrong.
People don’t even want a hole.
They want to have a painting hung or whatever the hole’s purpose serves.
If you want to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a reference point, even this is premature.
If the hole is to hold a family portrait then the hole service a more intrinsic purpose. They want feel all warm-and-fuzzy surrounded by family memories – the hole in the wall is just a means to an end.
So when you write your email, focus on the result or outcome, not the features or benefits. Digital Marketer calls this focusing on the ‘transformation’ your customer will experience.
Let’s contrast this with our SEO marketers:
Actually, no. I want more sales. Google, like other marketing mediums, is just a means to an end.
Okay, we are getting closer with this last one but it lacks focus and certainly doesn’t pique interest.
Trust is a fragile thing. Don’t drop it.
Another common marketing adage says that people buy from people we know, like and trust.
Trust is hard to obtain and easy to destroy.
So, why would you do this?
You use a Gmail account and *then* you’ll email me from your real account once I respond with my contact details?
Do you want my credit card details at the same time?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen successful online marketers use Gmail as their primary email account. But, why would they only tell me their real email account after I’ve replied. Don’t they trust me?
Please. Don’t. SPAM.
And my favorite:
Umm, yes – you are spammers. I shouldn’t have to reply as I never requested or agreed to communication from your company.
You simply took my email address from the domain name registrations database and sent me an unsolicited sales letter (along with 100 other spammers).
Seth Godin details this strategy in his book Permission Marketing. Perhaps I should buy these intrepid marketers a copy.
The lesson here, unless you want to incur the wrath of your recipients, only ever send emails to people who requested it.
Can anyone spell CAN-SPAM?
Begging Doesn’t Become You
If you’re going to sell, sell. Don’t beg.
How’s this for a sales pitch? Would you ever approach any of your clients or prospects in this manner?
Nothing kills your negotiating position more than the smell of desperation.
You need to use the right selling words and phrases to project confidence in your product or service. There’s tools to help you do this too.
Keep it Jargon Free
Now, I’m a software developer, so I like a computer acronym as much as the next geek.
However I learnt long ago in my IT career was there is no faster way to make my clients’ eyes glaze over than to use “nerd talk”.
Ever see a stunned deer staring blankly at the high beams of an oncoming car?
Here’s how to reproduce that effect with your prospects using email:
Did you get that?
Neither did their readers.
Most drivers want performance, safety and fuel economy from their cars. Most don’t really care what’s under the bonnet or want to read
exhausting exhaustive technical specifications.
Same goes with websites.
Most online businesses would want a responsive, modern website that converts leads into sales. If you can explain it to them in words a 5 year old would understand, you’re well on your way to a clear message.
Don’t Treat Me Like a Moron
There’s a great quote from David Ogilvy about insulting the intelligence of your audience.
You may have read it:
The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.
Contrast this to one of the emails I received which implied that the company had actually critiqued my site:
Another email I received said:
Remember, this is a domain name I just registered.
There is no website.
There are no “major issues” they could have found.
This also ties back to that “trust” thing we talked about.
The relationship’s not off to a good start if I know they’re lying to me from the outset.
There’s nothing wrong with embellishing your sales copy. But the Internet makes it childishly simple to verify most advertising claims, so anything you claim need to be honest and accurate.
Email Crimes Checklist
So there you have it – 10 email crimes against humanity your should avoid at all costs.
Keep this as a checklist the next time you’re writing a sales pitch in an email or sales page.
Here’s a quick summary you can copy and paste somewhere convenient (better yet, go ahead and bookmark this page):
- Target your audience and their needs accurately
- Use compelling subject lines that don’t scream ‘Junk Mail’
- Talk about your reader. It’s not about you.
- Use the language of your audiences
- Focus on the outcome or transformation your product or service will produce
- Trust is a fragile thing. Don’t drop it.
- Please. Don’t. SPAM.
- Sell, don’t beg
- Keep it jargon free
- Don’t treat your reader like a moron