Not keeping promises costs I’ve recently received an email looking like an attempt at email marketing, promising me some world renowned book for free. I was intrigued by a) the fact that the spam filter didn’t catch it and b) my not knowing anything about the book. So I took a second look at the content, thinking it might be some promotional ebook version sent out to bloggers by someone with way too little experience.

I saw the price for the book, big and shinny, along with a promotional discount image. I deleted it and moved on. But it got me thinking about all the promises marketers and PR people make in their emails and how not keeping them makes them lose potential customers, potential exposure on different channels, their reputation and more.

Why do people make promises they don’t keep in the email body? Simply because they’ve read somewhere that the subject line needs to be informative, but catchy. It needs to make the person seeing it want to read your email. And yes, you need to give it your best shot, but making up a big fat lie won’t help you! So if it’s a big fat discount, say so, if it’s a newsletter, make sure it’s not pure sales copy (see news in the name), if you’re offering something free, ok, you can say it with a clever phrase (not the capitalized FREE that triggers spam filters). But say what you mean, don’t hide behind false pretenses!

It’s like those articles who’s headline says one thing and they’re actually about something else. They disappoint you, get you a bit angry and no matter what, you won’t really give in to a second try. Once you’ve disappointed a potential customer, they won’t buy from you, unless they are forced to (company policies, an explicit request from someone). But they will do so only if their attempt at convincing the others to switch to a different product or service fails.

So why lose customers, get some bad reviews and damage your reputation just to increase the number of “read” emails. While we all want to know how many people have read our emails and how many of them clicked on the buy/more/visit us links and thoroughly keep an eye on these metrics, they are not really relevant. Clicks are a bit more relevant. But opening an email does not mean the user has read the copy, understood what you are saying and is just about to come buy what you’re selling. That you’ll get to measure by paying attention to who actually bought, the number of replies saying they’ve actually tried and loved your product or service, etc.

When it comes to blogging, email marketing and a bunch of other PR and Marketing tools, taking the metrics out of context and relying on them alone happens all too often. We lose sight of what’s really important and that is getting more people to buy by helping them solve a problem, increase productivity, making them happy or whatever it is that you do for your customers.

Photo credit: unknown apparently, I found it here.

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