Five Email Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Technology Marketing Insights from Ivan Levison

As any technology marketing pro know that email can be an extremely affordable and targetable communications tool. What’s more, it can give you answers to important marketing questions super fast. Want to test a new White Paper title or other lead-generation offer? No sweat. Send out a split-test email blast and in no time the marketplace will tell you what to do. Another thing I really like about email is that it’s very flexible. You can use it to meet all kinds of marketing challenges. For example, you can use email to:

* Get prospects to request a White Paper
* Attempt to close the sale
* Cross-sell your product
* Upsell to higher-priced products
* Generate sign-ups for a Webinar
* Garner customer testimonials

And that’s just for starters. Of course, there’s a catch . . . You have to write your email right. That means avoiding the pitfalls that await the unwary. Here’s a list of five mistakes that I urge you to avoid making. Get all the details right and you can make emails make money for you!

Mistake #1: Using a weak “Subject” line
It doesn’t matter how compelling your email offer is or how brilliantly your message is written. If your subject line isn’t working right, your email will never get opened and your campaign will be a failure.

Subject lines should be kept short. (Never exceed forty characters including spaces.) This means that every subject line must communicate extremely quickly and have a little punch. Flat or cute is bad. Examples:

BAD SUBJECT LINE:   Who’s minding the store? Security info.

GOOD SUBJECT LINE:   Five ways to prevent store theft

GOOD SUBJECT LINE:   Stop store thieves in their tracks

GOOD SUBJECT LINE:   Don’t let thieves steal you blind

Mistake #2: Burying your Web address.
This mistake is pretty obvious but people make it all the time. They stick their hot-linked URL (to the landing page) at the end of the email and don’t include one near the top of their message. Wrong. Some folks don’t want to plow through all your copy. They’re ready to click through right to your site. Make it easy for them to do so!

Mistake #3: Failing to identify the reader’s pain quickly.
Don’t start your email by enumerating every feature and benefit of your product. (You’re not writing a data sheet!) One effective way to roll into your message is to prove to your prospects immediately that you understand exactly what they’re up against — that you have the perfect answer to their problem.

Mistake #4: Keeping the email too short.
Some technology marketers have a terrible fear that their email won’t get read so they write two short paragraphs and run for the hills. Don’t be so afraid! Prospects will read your email if it’s got valuable information for them. The typical emails I write run a good seven or eight paragraphs in length . . . often with bullets too. They work just fine.

Don’t forget, if as I mentioned above, you drop a URL in early, prospects can click through without reading every single word. Some people, though, like to read what you’ve got to say and you shouldn’t shortchange them.

Mistake #5: Writing in a boring, flat style.
This is a big no-no. As I often say, you have to write with a little energy and sense of fun. Example: Take a look at this email I wrote for Shockwave. When I sat down to write this email, I imagined that I was sending a note to a 21-year-old sitting in his messy dorm room.

SUBJECT: Shockmachine is FREE and it’s AWESOME!

Hey, have we got something for YOU.  Shockmachine. Free. Now. It’s dynamite, and it’s waiting for you at:

Why does Shockmachine deserve a place on YOUR hard drive? Well, first of all Shockmachine is free so it will cost you absolutely nada. (Not a bad selling point!)  ETC.

Fun to write! Sometimes, when you add a little attitude, you can cut through the clutter and get the reader on your side. Then you’re halfway home!

About the Author
Ivan Levison is a freelance copywriter who works for tech companies like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Citrix, and many others. Ivan writes sales letters, emails, web pages and more. For a free subscription to his monthly enewsletter for technology marketers, visit Ivan can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at