7 Deadly Sins of Marketing
Takeaway notes from Bronto webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data
Sally Lowery of Bronto Software takes you through
the seven deadly sins made in marketing in this
1. Sloth (auto-piloted campaigns)
It’s not laziness that prevents marketers from
testing and optimizing email marketing programs—it’s
band-width. You need to be conscientious about how
that impacts your program and testing should be part
of your game plan.
Questions you should be asking yourself:
• Do I want to re-engage with inactive
It’s easy for us, as marketers, to put things on
auto-pilot and focus on the fire, but there are some
nice, Quick Wins, that you can do to optimize your
• Am I satisfied with my KPI’s (Keeper Performance
Indicators); my open rate; my click-through rate?
• Are people taking the path I intended? (Are they
going where you’re trying to direct them to?)
• Have my overall stats declined? (If they have,
it’s important you start thinking of an alternative
to an auto-pilot campaign).
Auto-piloted campaigns Quick Wins:
You can impact your open (the start). So if you’re
not getting great opens, you’re not going to get as
many people clicking through or converting. You can
do this through the subject line, the from line, the
best day to send, and best time to send. For the
subject line, you can do an A vs B; winner takes
all. The results could be an increase in open rates,
and in turn, an increase in click through rates, and
conversion rates. Branded awareness is important.
Your subscribers won’t open email they don’t
recognize. Most likely, they’ll hit the spam or
Don’t make it difficult. Start with something easy
like an A/B split test to 30 percent of your list
and see what subject line gets the better open rate.
Which ever one gets the better open rate, send the
rest of your list that campaign, with that subject
If you want to impact your click-throughs, you can
do that through creative layout, copy, or
calls-to-action. Are your calls-to-action a button
or a text? How are you trying to get them to
2. Gluttony (Over-sending)
There are do’s and don’ts to over-sending: Don’t
abuse your subscriber list; Do develop a frequency
strategy; Do set expectations with subscribers—or
you risk losing them, thereby impacting your brand
and impacting your deliverability.
In today’s society, subscribers can hit the spam
button even if you’re sending them relevant
information. They can still view it as spam. So,
high frequency with low relevance depresses the
inbox placement due to higher complaints. In an
untargeted approach, it reduces your response rates
and lowers your lifetime value.
So what do you do? You decide what your frequency is
going to be and be sensitive to what your
subscribers’ needs are. If you promise a specific
frequency then you deliver on that frequency,
because you’re building trust with your subscribers.
Any frequency that is outside what your subscriber
base is used to experiencing is going to be
perceived as over-sending.
One way of solving over-sending is by segmenting
your audience. Not every subscriber has the same
needs. You want to identify segments or groups with
common interests and build the offer around those.
In addition, in an Email Marketing Benchmark survey
by Marketing Profs, half of the marketers say they
segment their file to boost response. Of course,
that means that half do not take advantage of this
There are three different ways to segment:
1) Behavioral Offer free trials; study browser
behavior; past purchases; average customer order; recency; etc.
2) Demographic Regionally segment your audience;
customize in-store promos; man vs woman; etc.
3) Preference Put the decision in the hands of your
subscribers—when they receive, what they receive,
3. Lust (Asking for too much, too quickly)
We, as marketers, have a habit of asking for too
much consumer information up front. So, it’s
important not to ask for too much, too quickly.
Review the following questions:
• How many fields are you requiring at sign up?
A customer needs to trust the company they interact
with. A good tactic you can consider is nurturing
the data collection throughout the customer
• Have you considered building data over time?
• What is essential to beginning an engaging
dialogue with the subscriber and what can hold off
First, begin by asking for permission to send email
marketing to your customers and then start to build
upon that: first name; last name; state; email
address. These are critical for regional campaigns.
Then you start building data based on their
behavior: preferences; purchase history; etc.
Next, create a preference center and then
consistently promote it. Allow subscribers to
customize the content they’re going to receive from
you. Practice what we just preached! Don’t ask for
too much information too quickly from your
subscribers. Start off with only two required
fields: name and email address.
Follow up with an email asking your new subscriber
what they want to receive.
It’s important to find what their industry interests
are (are they a B-2-B or B-2-C?) because the content
delivered is going to be very different. Ask if they
want to receive targeted campaign promotions, tips
and tricks, alerts, white papers and webinars, etc.
4. Wrath (CAN-SPAM compliance)
Sending email to those that don’t subscribe can
impact your deliverability and your brand. Even
subscribers can mark irrelevant email campaigns from
you as spam.
Send an email to someone who hasn’t opted in to
receive your message and risk the wrath of their
mouse click delegating you to spam, or
Worse, they could tell their friends. So now, not
only have you damaged your reputation with that
person by sending them content they never requested,
you’ve damaged your reputation with all the people
The benefits of an opt-in list are more engaged
respondents that have intentionally begun a
relationship with your organization and brand.
5. Greed (Don’t just go promotional)
In marketing, greed is only seeing dollar signs and
not people. We are all guilty of it, because we have
a bottom line we have to meet. But the reality is,
it doesn’t always have to be promotional.
Too much emphasis on sales may turn off subscribers.
Not every message has to be a sales pitch. Start a
conversation and don’t just speak—listen to what
your customer is saying. Assess their wants and
needs. If you do these things, sales will come.
You need to have a really integrated strategy, one
that isn’t just promotional or sales-geared, but one
that also leverages content that your subscriber is
going to enjoy. Sending things to your subscriber
that enables them to do their job better or enables
them to just enjoy what they’re reading—that’s going
to be something huge in the minds of your
Conversations are needed, they’re critical in a
B-2-B and B-2-C world. You can create content and
conversations through blogs, Twitter, Facebook,
product reviews, surveys, white papers, case
Not enough people are leveraging their blog from an
email marketing perspective. They’re putting out
great blog posts, but their not really promoting
their blog posts, so they’re not getting nearly
enough traffic. And this is where your subscribers
can really engage with you.
6. Pride (Ignoring your subscribers’ interests)
We would all love to say we don’t do it, but the
reality is, we’re wearing multiple hats. We have
sales we have to meet and sometimes we’re not
listening to where our subscribers are at in the
customer lifecycle. Instead, we’re thinking about
what we have to sell to make this month’s sales
Look at the customer lifecycle. Identify where you
are currently at in communicating with your
customers, subscribers, and prospects. Ask yourself:
Where are the holes? How can I achieve success here?
Trigger-based messaging is one way you can really
focus on the customer lifecycle, and it’s because of
that automation that’s focused on how your
customers, subscribers, and prospects are engaging
with your brand online.
You can leverage a trigger-based email program to
create relevant and timely campaigns. From this, you
can learn to relate to them instantly.
Keys to success
To be successful, you really need to define business
rules. A well-defined trigger-based program can
create significant return. Creating a business rule
that sends a transactional message that includes
optimum opportunity only makes sense if that product
promoted actually matches your customer’s interest.
So, what are your business objectives? Is it
important to have trigger-based campaigns all over
the place, or are there maybe four or five places
you think are really important?
7. Envy (Competitive stats)
We all wish we had our neighbors email stats, but
you can’t compare apples to oranges. Industry to
industry, business needs may be very different. What
people are doing with their email marketing program
may be different.
Set your own goals and objectives. Apply today’s
lessons, optimize your campaigns, and you will get
there. It’s more important for you and your
organization to find out what works for you, than
contemplating what your neighbors are doing.
---Source: Bronto Software webinar
Dec. 10, 2009 (www.bronto.com). Sally Lowery is the
Director of Online Marketing for Bronto Software.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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