You’re boring your audience

OK, so you’ve convinced your users to visit your landing page. Or even better — they’ve signed up for your mailing list. That’s great! Now that you have their attention, the last thing you want is to bore their pants off and lose their interest. Instead, provide valuable content in a way that strikes the right tone.

Things to do:

  • Find out which content formats your audience prefers.
  • Search topic ideas on discussion groups such as Quora, LinkedIn, Google Trends and in your blog comments.
  • Use surveys to ask your audience for feedback.
  • Analyze your most engaging content and replicate its success.
  • Get ideas for other useful content based on what readers download.

You’re confusing your audience

The one question you don’t want your audience to ask themselves is, “What do I do now?” Whether visitors come to your website from a PPC ad, email, or social media message, the next step has to be obvious. They can’t waste their time wondering what you want them to do. You have to point them toward your desired action.

Things to do:

  • Direct clicks from a specific offer to a dedicated landing page instead of your homepage.
  • Continue the conversation on your landing page. Don’t repeat what you’ve already said and don’t treat visitors like you’ve never seen them before.
  • Don’t make readers guess. Tell them what you want them to do: sign up, download, log in, place an order. Be specific!
  • Be creative with your CTA, not just “Download” or “Submit.” Describe what they get and the benefits. “Become a VIP member.” “Get on the A-list.”
  • Make sure the designs match between the channels.

You’re making your visitor’s life harder

You want to reach the biggest audience possible, right? That includes when you send emails, write blog posts, collect sign-ups, sell products — pretty much everything. So why send newsletters that look terrible on mobile devices? Or show videos using Flash? Or create lengthy forms to collect data you’ll probably never use? See what I’m getting at?

Make your user’s experience as pleasurable and seamless as possible. There’s no time for hesitation, for pinching and resizing, for changing devices to access content. If you make your content easy to digest, your audience will love you forever.

Things to do:

  • Provide content that is accessible on all devices and systems. If that’s not possible, find out what most of them use and then adapt!
  • Repurpose the content to reach a wider audience. Provide transcripts of your videos. Add subtitles. Make a slide deck. And a blog post. Everybody wins.
  • Don’t use outdated technology. Focus on what’s current. Go mobile-first if possible.

You’re not mobile friendly

Today more emails are read on mobile devices than on desktop computers. And if subscribers can’t read and click on their phone, they are unlikely to return to an email or web page on a desktop computer. That means you’ve lost a potential customer. In short, responsive design is a must.

  • Place your main offer at the top to catch the attention of readers who skim.
  • Instead of forcing readers to scroll, prepare a design that’s concise and to-the-point: narrow, single-column email designs work best.
  • Make sure calls-to-action are easy to click. The clickable area should be approximately 44 x 44 px. Add extra space around them to avoid misclicks.
  • Use larger fonts. Try 14 px for regular text and 22 px for headlines.
  • Take your subscribers to a mobile friendly landing page or checkout. Go for mobile friendly web pages instead of downloadable PDFs.
  • Always check how your emails and landing pages display on mobile devices (including images!)

You're neglecting visual hierarchy

Have you identified the single most important element in your email, landing page or website? Will your audience recognize it readily? Will they follow your line of thought when they see the offer for the first time? These are the questions to ask yourself before launching your next campaign. If you haven’t considered them, you risk having low conversions.

Things to do:

  • Plan your messages and landing pages carefully. Remove unnecessary elements and make sure the important elements stand out.
  • Use bullet points, bold fonts, and images to strengthen specific elements.
  • If the reader can’t understand your message in less than 8 seconds, it’s probably too complicated.
  • Analyze heat maps to see how your visitors behave. Then place your content with those findings in mind.

You’re sending the same content to everyone

According to a study we did with SmartInsights late last year, an overwhelming 42% of marketers don’t segment their email list.

There are a lot of possibilities. Start with a simple segmentation based on location, gender, or interest. Then experiment with more complicated automated processes based on subscriber actions: what they bought; how much they spent in your online store; the last time they opened an email from you or clicked through to your site.

Things to do:

  • When designing your email program, start with a targeting strategy
  • Use progressive profiling. Don’t try to get all the data at once — too many fields in an opt-in form are bound to lower your conversions. Instead, make your sign-up forms simple and then send surveys to ask for more information. Complete the subscriber profiles with behavioral data.
  • Don’t start with too many segments. Send a promo dedicated to a specific group and analyze the results.

You don’t know how to say “Thank you.”

Got a new subscriber on your list? Don’t forget to say “thank you” at the very beginning. Thanking your subscriber lets you create a positive first impression to help you build a meaningful relationship.

Things to do:

  • Direct new subscribers to a thank you page after they sign up. Could you offer something in return for the sign-up to start off on the right foot?
  • Send a welcome email after sign-up.
  • Create a follow-up autoresponder sequence to nurture the relationship and make sure the subscriber doesn’t forget they signed up to your list. Provide valuable content so they remember why they signed up in the first place.

You’re not trustworthy

Your products are the best in the market. Your customer service is the most knowledgeable and helpful in the industry. If Guns N’ Roses got back together, they would buy from you. These examples are slightly exaggerated, but if you ask me, they aren’t far from what marketing teams often put in their promotional messages.

The real question is: Will anyone believe you? Chances are, they won’t — unless someone backs you up with an objective opinion. That’s why you need social proof and elements that signal trust.

Things to do:

  • If you’re part of an organization or alliance that ensures top-quality service, add their logo to your website!
  • Have you been featured on a popular website or magazine? Mention it!
  • Did customers give you favorable feedback proving what you’ve been communicating? Quote it!

You ignore numbers and only trust gut

We all love our own ideas. They must be great — otherwise, the business wouldn’t be running, right? Perhaps that’s partially true. But often, your ideas will be just good enough. Your intuition points you in the right direction. But are you achieving the best possible results?

Things to do:

  • Run frequent A/B tests, even small tests on subject lines or header images.
  • Test your gut feeling and compare it with data to see whether your audience feels the same way you do.
  • Start simple and then move forward. Don’t overwhelm yourself with data you probably won’t use.
  • If you’re not optimizing, you’re compromising. Don’t rest on your laurels. Challenge yourself now and then.
  • If you’re unsure whether your intuition is right, start with a sample of your audience. If the results confirm your thesis, roll it out to everyone.

You’re faceless

Isn’t it nicer to communicate with a human being rather than an anonymous brand? Let your audience get to know you. A strong relationship with your audience means strong conversions — it’s that simple. But for that, you need to show your face.

Things to do:

  • Create a strategy that includes frequent webinars. Demonstrate your product or service. Provide educational content that’s relevant to your existing and potential customers.
  • Place your webinar recordings and other videos featuring real people from your company on your website.
  • Use an email From name people can easily recognize.
  • Create online communities for your brand. Perhaps more important, tap into existing communities that already have strong connections. (But be helpful, not pushy!)
  • Add the face of a team member to your emails, chat messages, etc.