THE BLOG
11/01/2013 01:24 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Don't Be an Email Marketing Horror Victim

For many marketing professionals, email marketing is just one component of a successful integrated campaign. This often leads to many marketers running their email marketing campaigns in a formulaic way -- this predictability, like that of many horror movie remakes (Carrie, Amityville Horror, Texas Chain Saw Massacre), causes boredom, turning people off and away from your business.

Today's social media environment demands more creative ways of attracting attention in this competitive market. Customers are smart - they know all the tricks and are able to predict what's around the corner based on the same formula that is used time and again. Now is the time to reinvent your marketing tactics, creating "sequels" that are interesting and compelling, as customers demand powerful and relevant content.

If you feel like that sad, third rate movie director making Jason XXVIII with your email marketing tactics, here are a few tips that can help bring excitement to your audiences and make them scream...with delight:

Pay Attention to your Audience
Create segmented lists so your customers receive messages that interest them the most. You wouldn't send an email about the new Exorcist movie to a Jennifer Anniston fan. Think about what's really compelling to the various demographics within your customer list. Segmentation applies to your web content as well; don't send a CEO to a landing page that is meant for marketing managers--unless you want to lose that CEO.

Follow the 80/20 Rule
Business is kind of like a horror movie: In horror movies, 80 percent of the characters live while 20 percent die. In most organizations, 20 percent of customers drive 80 percent of the revenue. Know who these customers are, prioritize them and remove any dead weight. Offer your targeted 20 percent a reprieve from the Internet remakes and provide them with great content and a warm, safe website to always visit.

Change your Customers' Behavior - Get them to Take Action
In horror movies, the same things keep happening and no one seems to change their behavior. We all know that in a horror movie, if you say, "I'll be right back"...you won't. In the real world, customers are smarter but sometimes we need to remind them to use their brains when reading email. Include a call-to-action in your email campaigns to keep those brains engaged. You may have an amazing newsletter filled with great content but if your readers aren't asked to take action, the content may be ignored or unsubscribed from all together. Compel and entertain your readers so it becomes second nature for customers to "click" or "sign up here."

Don't be a Jason, Create a Distinct Email Personality
Jason has to the most one-dimensional horror character ever created. If he was an email, Jason would be why spam blockers were created. Spam filters examine a large list of criteria when determining an email's "spam score." If your email campaign's total spam score is greater than a certain threshold, then it may be sent to the dreaded spam folder. Here are a few common mistakes you should avoid when planning your email campaigns:
• ALL CAPS - Seems like a "no brainer" but it's not nice to yell at your customers
• Spam words - "FREE", "Mortgage", "Once in a life opportunity", "Namibia", etc.
• Symbols - ***$#@!!$^" -- This is zombie speak for "I am a really lazy marketer"
• Poorly designed HTML

Study Your "Kills"
Analytics, or "kills," are critical to successful email marketing campaigns. It's important to watch email campaign performance metrics as closely as you can. Of the emails sent, how many were opened? Which links were the most popular? How many times was your content shared within the users' social network? Which offers resulted in the most conversions? All of this information is very useful when planning your next campaign. You can then build segments and email campaigns based on opens or clicks to target your customers more.

Sleep with One Eye on Your Audience
In horror movies, you ever notice that the people who go off to have sex in the dark woods are always the first to die? One reason is that they can't see anything! The same applies for your email marketing campaigns. Understand what makes your targets engaged--this is the key to survival. Ask for feedback so you can deliver more relevant offers and keep them from frothing at the mouth.

These suggestions should help to improve existing and new marketing campaigns. But remember, they all have one thing in common: Content is king (no remakes or formulaic sequels)! Make sure your customers are engaged with relevant, impactful content that keeps them screaming for more.

Seamas Egan is the revenue operations manager for Campaigner, an email marketing services provider. Seamas can be reached at seamas.egan@j2.com.