Email marketing in 2024: Dos and Don’ts

email marketing

One of the best ways to explain why I love email marketing is to explain why I don’t love social media.

The year was 2012. It cost about half as much to buy a house and we all had “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson stuck in our heads.

It was also the year I opened my Instagram account. In the decade since, Instagram has changed its algorithm dozens and dozens of times. These days, you’re lucky if TEN percent of your followers actually sees your post. It’s a real uphill climb to generate leads when you’re only ever talking to 1 in 10 members of your audience.

So my hack for beating this punishing algorithm? Stop trying. Use Instagram if it’s working for you, but if you’re struggling to keep up with the changes, focus on email marketing. It’s more reliable, it’s easier, and has a far better return on your investment. You just need to avoid three little pitfalls for seamless lead generation through email marketing.

You may remember last week, I gave you my three “Dos” for email marketing. Today I’m sharing the “Don’ts.”

Don’t #1: Don’t change your voice

One of the main problems to avoid when email marketing is using the same kind of writing you would if you’re sending someone an invoice. We tend to switch into Bizlish (Business English) anytime we send an email, which isn’t very engaging to read. This is something you can avoid by really spending some time cultivating your brand voice before starting an email marketing program.

“Brand voice” is basically the vibe your company gives off. Are you funny? Formal? Friendly? Then, once you have an idea of the personality you’re trying to capture, you will know exactly how to craft the copywriting for your emails. Consistency is fundamental to your brand’s credibility.

For example, my brand voice is based on authenticity. So when you read an email from me, I want it to sound like you and I are actually having an informal chat. As in real life, you’re forced to tolerate my little jokes. I do try to cut back on the swearing, but I’m not always successful. That’s very much like talking to me in person as well.

If your brand is supposed to be authoritative, or soothing, or pumped up, take the time to craft copy that embodies those qualities.

Don’t #2: Don’t exaggerate

Last week in the “Dos” article, I talked about how to use a fact and a promise to promote what you’ll be talking about in the email. This sparks the reader’s curiosity.

This becomes problematic if you don’t actually keep that promise. If your subject line promises the best sale of the year, and the reader opens up the email to find out you’re offering 10% off, you’re training them to ignore your future emails.

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, watch me unsubscribe.

Don’t #3: Don’t ignore your data

One of the very best things about email marketing is you can learn so much about how your audience is interacting with your message. Who opens it, who clicks on which link, who forwards it to a friend, all of these data are very useful when you’re planning future emails and indeed when you’re planning many different parts of your business.

This empirical data can help you decide how to promote what you do. Don’t avoid the anecdotal results, though.

Listen to What the Audience is Telling You

I have a client with an absolutely phenomenal open rate. On a list of 900 people, they routinely get more than 60% open rates when their industry average hovers around 20%. They just know exactly what their clients want, which is fantastic. The problem was, the clients got a little too engaged with the emails.

After their first couple of newsletters my client asked me to tone the subject lines down. To make them less interesting, more direct. No one had ever asked me that before, but the client was right. (And not just in the “client is always right” sense.)

It turns out that the company was receiving many follow up requests for more information by phone. Their audience is predominantly seniors, so many prefer to call. Now, calls for service or calls about new business are great. However, too many calls just to react to the newsletter were creating extra work. The client simply did not have the resources to deal with an influx of non-sales inquiries. I made a couple of tweaks to how I craft the subject line, and their call volume dropped down to something more manageable.

Email Marketing in 2024 is Viable and Valuable

Email is now almost exclusively a business channel. That means people are comfortable, even expecting, to hear relevant, useful information about services they may need. As long as you keep your audience in mind always, it can be a far more cost effective way to bring in leads than social media.

picture of author bridget brown