As a marketer, author and speaker, I have a professional life that pretty much revolves around email, social media and content marketing. If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll already know that I am more than passionate about what I consider to be the three most important pillars of successful small business marketing.
This doesn’t mean I love everything about email, social media and content marketing. In fact, there are a number of issues I come across every day that really grinds my gears.
Here’s a list of my top pet peeves.
Don’t Read Me Subject Lines: Why would I open a newsletter with the subject line “newsletter”? Listen, I get a lot of emails every day. Do you think I have the time to waste on reading something that might not have any relevance to me? Your subject lines need to scream benefits or highlight the topics covered in your newsletter. Despite this, many marketers insist on hiding their campaigns behind subject lines that are the opposite of “clickbait.”
The No-Reply Email Address: You spend time and money attempting to engage me via email, so why do you slam the door in my face with a no-reply email address when you finally spark my interest? If I have a question about a product or service you are promoting via email, the easiest thing for me to do is hit the reply button.
The Apologetic Pitch: If you believe that your product or service offers real value to a connection, why apologize for pitching? I never read emails or direct messages that start with an apology like “Sorry for bothering you…” or “I’m just emailing you…” If you want to sell something to me, you’ve got to believe in your product and present yourself with confidence.
Remember Me Emails: Email addresses do not age well. The most productive email addresses you possess are the ones that you have most recently collected (via a purchase, registration or subscription). Sitting on a email address for months before making contact is foolish and more than likely a wasted opportunity.
No Photo: Networking via social media is all about human engagement. People don’t socialize with brands or corporations, so never hide behind a corporate logo. Avatars are equally off-putting. If I cannot look you in the eyes on your profile, I’m not going to connect with you.
The Automatic Direct Message (DM): Relationships take time to build. Automatic DMs that pitch products or invite people to download product information packs or try to elicit follows on other social media platforms are trying to bypass the “getting to know you” stage of building relationships. These “friendships” are doomed from the start.
Mixing Business with Pleasure: Could your love for a certain sports team turn off potential customers with other affiliations? Religion, politics and even sports are best left off the list of conversation topics at a dinner party. The same is true for social media (unless you are in the business of religion, politics or sports).
Pouring Fuel on Competitive Thought Leadership: Too many marketers spend time and effort sending traffic to competitive thought leadership instead of investing in and promoting their own content.
Farmed Content: If you are an expert in your particular industry vertical, why do you farm out content production to freelancers or inexperienced interns? While there is nothing wrong with employing additional help to add polish to your content (in terms of proofreading, editing and design), the best, most useful content comes from an organic source — meaning you should produce it yourself.
The Irregular Pulse: Sporadic updates to your corporate blog will do little to encourage repeat visits. Publishing regularly will show your business is in good health and provide useful content for you (and the wider community around your business) to share via social media and email.
Useless Content: Great content should solve a particular problem for your target market. If you are not solving problems (and a problem could be as simple as what to wear on a Saturday night if you are a fashion retailer) you are not creating value, and therefore your content will ultimately fail.
Tech. Spec. Jargon: Every business has its own jargon, but just because you use this language every day doesn’t mean your customers understand it. You are not marketing your services to your competitors and industry peers. You are marketing your services to people who will buy your product or service because they trust you. Trust is best built when you present your organization in plain English.
My pet peeves aren’t limited to the digital environment. Sometimes, when salespeople get involved in the process, it gets just as messy. Here are three bonus sales-related pet peeves.
Rapid Contact: I downloaded a white paper five minutes ago, and you’re on the phone already, asking me if I’m interested in buying your product. Give me the time to read the thing first or I’ll just think you are desperate, and this will not inspire me to buy.
The Nagging Salesperson: If I haven’t opened your emails, clicked on your social media posts or taken your phone calls, take the hint — I don’t want to speak to you. Smart salespeople focus on spending time with warm prospects while relying on relevant, engaging and timely content to nurture cooler leads. Technology like iContact Pro will help you decide quickly and accurately who is hot and who is not.
The End-of-Quarter Panic: I couldn’t care less about your targets. The moment you call me with the offer of a discount at the end of the quarter is the moment you completely devalue your product. Regardless of whether I take the bait or not, I will never buy at full price again (despite your threats that the price will go back up).
Do you recognize any of these qualities in your business? Share your pet peeves in the comments box below.
This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.