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7 Common Email Marketing Mistakes in the Professional Services Industry and How to Avoid Them

Email marketing is one of the most proven initiatives in the digital marketing landscape. It’s a great way for professional services firms to share thought-provoking content as well as demonstrate and validate their expertise in certain subject areas.

However, many professional services firms make common, yet simple, mistakes that can deter their target audience from engaging in their content and worse yet, result in being blacklisted from company email domains.

Below are seven of the most common email marketing mistakes, how to avoid them and tips for standing out from the crowd.

1. Sending Bulk Emails

Not all contacts are created equal, and for that reason, not all contacts want the same content. What’s relevant to a CFO, for example, might not be relevant to a CIO, CEO or Controller.  An email sent to a CEO of a small business might find something useful whereas a CEO of a larger business would consider it junk mail.

Best practices for email lists:

  • Segment, then segment again: Segment your contacts into specific lists based on specific needs or characteristics. This can include industry, job title, business size, geographical region or anything else that would make your contact’s pain point unique.  The more specific your lists, the better.
  • Utilize one-on-one emails: Sending personalized emails to clients based on where they are in the buyer’s journey is easier than you might think. Marketing automation platforms give you the power to send emails based on an action a user takes (or doesn’t take).
  • Don’t buy lists: While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, sending emails to purchased lists typically do not pay dividends, especially in today’s data privacy age. Sending emails to contacts who want to receive your emails and have communicated that is always a good rule of thumb.

2. Sending Emails Too Often

Timing and frequency is everything when it comes to email. One of the quickest ways for your email domain to be marked as spam is by, literally, spamming. Sending too many emails too often will only overwhelm your contacts. They eventually will either become numb to your email blasts or move you to the dreaded junk folder.  

Best practices for email frequency:

  • Find a cadence and stick to it: Whether you’re sending a monthly newsletter or an automated education content campaign, finding a consistent rhythm will increase the trust of your readers and, in turn, increase opens.
  • Automate whenever possible: For example, sending an email at the same time every Friday can be a difficult task to do manually. Either schedule your emails in advance or take the time to develop and implement email marketing campaigns to reach your audience at your preferred time.
  • Respect your audience’s time: Most prospects won’t appreciate receiving an email at 7:00 p.m. on a weekday or anytime on a weekend. For emails going to contacts spread out across the country, utilize time zone based sends to make sure the email arrives at optimal times.

3. Non-Valuable/Irrelevant Content

All it takes is one irrelevant or non-valuable email to lose the trust of a reader forever. Ensuring every piece of content a reader receives from you or your firm is tailored specifically to their wants or needs is crucial.

Best practices for email content:

  • Strategize: Make sure your email marketing strategy is crafted with your readers top of mind. Every email sent should serve a specific purpose, whether it’s a piece of educational content or an upcoming webinar.
  • Automate action-based emails: Sending emails based on specific actions a contact has taken is a great way to ensure your content is relevant. Did a contact recently download a whitepaper on cost takeout strategies? They’d probably be interested in your blog on “Tips for Reducing Supply Chain Costs.”
  • Align your call-to-action with your email content: Every email sent should include at least one call-to-action that encourages the reader to continue engaging. Oftentimes, this will be sending the recipient to a landing page. It’s important to make sure the landing page is relevant to the email content.

4. Sales-Heavy Language

It’s difficult to gain the trust of a reader when your emails are exclusively sales-driven.

Best practices for email language:

  • Include educational content: In the current content marketing landscape, being seen as a thought-leader in the eyes of your prospects is invaluable when comes time for them to consider talking to a professional services firm. As contacts begin their journey through the sales funnel, they may not be ready to speak with a sales associate right away. In fact, they may not even be fully aware they need your service. Provide readers with content that helps educate them on your industry or services to help facilitate their journey.
  • Keep it low pressure: Allow your readers to feel comfortable engaging with you and your company without the pressure to buy right away. “Learn more,” or “let me know how I can help,” are examples of good call-to-action options that make the reader feel less pressure.

5. Not Mobile-Optimized

With the always-connected society, users could be engaging with your content at any time of the day. Likely, this will take place on a mobile device. Ensuring your emails are optimized for both mobile devices and desktops will make the user experience easy for all readers.

Best practices for mobile-optimized emails:

  • Keep the copy simple and concise: Mobile readers are typically reading on the go and to keep their interest, time is of the essence. Emails should get right to the point and be transparent of their purpose from the beginning.
  • Keep the design simple and concise: Not all email platforms react the same to templates. Extravagant templates with an abundance of modules and columns will only make the mobile user experience more difficult. Using standard, normal-sized fonts will help ensure your email renders correctly, regardless of the device.
  • Be conscious of image sizes: Images that are too large will have a noticeably slower load time of mobile devices. Try to keep your images light and compact to avoid any issues.

6. Unengaging Subject Line

Have you ever wondered why that educational email you worked tirelessly on only received an 11% open rate? Your subject line is probably to blame. The average office worker receives between 100 and 150 emails every day. That puts a lot of pressure on your subject line to stick out from the pack and demand an open.

Best practices to make your subject line stick out:

  • Make it personalized: Try including your recipient's name or company in the subject line to draw their attention. Most marketing automation platforms have features that allow you to personalize emails, even for large send lists.
  • Be specific: Tell the recipient exactly what they can expect inside your email. If your content is tailored to the contact, there should be no reason why they wouldn’t open the email.
  • Keep it short: There’s no magic number of characters, but for subject lines, less is typically more. Mobile devices show even fewer characters than desktops.
  • Test!: Regardless of what marketing software you are using to send emails, make sure you are testing your email in as many email clients as you can. Apple Mail will react differently than Gmail on an Android will.

7. Not Data-Driven

Every industry is unique, and every audience is even more unique. Experimenting and using the data to make decisions will make your email marketing strategies as optimized as it can be. Luckily, measuring the success of an email can be relatively straightforward.

Best practices for making data-driven email marketing decisions:

  • Identify your KPIs and make educated decisions: When reviewing your email results, look at open rates, click rates and any other metrics that are important to the success of your campaign. If an email has a low open rate but a high click-through rate, change the subject line, not the content. Better yet, consider the list you are sending to. On the other hand, if your email is getting a high volume of opens, but no one is following your call-to-action, your content may not be aligned with what the reader expects it to be.
  • Multi-sample hypothesis test: Experiment with different send times, subject lines, call-to-actions, and email copy. Once you’ve conducted a few tests, choose the most successful strategy and implement that moving forward.

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