Take a second. Look at your phone. That little white envelope that houses some of the most important communication you have…What’s the little number next to it?

If you’re like me, it’s low. Very low. I can’t handle having thousands of emails sitting in an email box that I haven’t looked at. That said, I delete an awful lot of emails too – unless it’s a person or company I really care about that I want to see what they’re trying to tell me.

I also open ones that I think will have an entertainment value of some kind – or even a really great offer. For example, Kohls gets me every time they have a sale on Nike apparel or kids’ clothes, because there’s a strong chance I will find value in their emails. I will receive a coupon, Kohls cash or some other value. They also conveniently link to their website and app for a frictionless mobile shopping experience. On the other hand, Wayfair seems to struggle with targeting emails correctly. Today’s email tried to sell me a toilet seat. No kidding.

So here are the three biggest mistakes we see people making with email marketing:

Your emails are not targeting the right people.

If I have a 10 year old son, I’m not interested in a Mommy & Me gymnastics class. Frankly, he’s not either. I would, however, be interested in a Nerf tournament! Now, could you argue that I likely know moms who have 2 year olds, or I maybe even have a younger sibling who is eligible? I could. But here’s where it’s important that you offer an opt-in list specific to your client. If I have a wine of the month club, but I use the same opt-in list for every single client in my store, I’m likely to send emails soliciting to a 20-year-old at one point. Likewise, if I sell large farm equipment as well as gardening tools, I am going to have a broad audience. The 60 year old woman who is starting an herb garden is likely to be annoyed with an email for a backhoe.

By targeting the right person through specific opt-in offers and smart list-distributions, your open and click-through rates are guaranteed to be higher. Not to mention you’ll see far fewer unsubscribes (yeah…those hurt my feelings sometimes too.)

Your emails are basic.

Our society is very socially and aesthetically driven today. The ease of programs like

Canva, PicMonkey, Photoshop and Postermywall have led a lack of value in written word alone. People want something visual that will capture their attention. They want something different. They’re also looking for a relationship rather than a product. You have to focus on selling the result versus the product – and you have to do that in an innovative way. In order to get someone to even open your email, you’ll have to have a catchy, clever or notable subject line. Letting someone know you have a sale on toilet season just isn’t enough, but confirming that someone will receive value when they open the email might do the trick. Focus on graphics, clever text and a special offer that will encourage them to open your email and care about the message. The bummer: This will likely require a professional email marketing program and a little bit of background in graphics and copywriting. (Don’t worry, if that’s not your forte, we can help.)

Your emails lack a clear call to action.

Sometimes you need to sell your prospect on something. Other times, you’re just wanting to keep them engaged with your business and remind them you exist. There is an appropriate email strategy for both of these times. Rarely is the right strategy to just send them an email and never offer a call to action. The most effective emails offer the option to easily click a button and complete a task (register for a webinar, purchase a product, shop your store, book a reservation, etc.) A professional email marketing program will not only be able to help you create attractive buttons that have clear usability features, but also will provide reports on Click Through Rates. People are often amazed when I tell them my favorite email marketing programs not only tell you how many opens you had (and who opened the email) but it also tells you what they clicked on (and who clicked on it.) Further, it tells you what parts of your email were most effective and most desirable.

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways you can catch an audience and keep them engaged. They may delete their emails, yes. But if you can capture and keep their attention, you’ll be on their mind a few additional times per month. Even a billboard can’t promise you that.

So what is our favorite email marketing system? Personally, I prefer Active Campaign. It allows you all the features listed above as well as automations, campaigns, templates and choose-your-own path deviations based on the nature of your clients. I feel that I can best engage through that platform and find it very user-friendly while still offering a professional, branded product.