Email Mistake Checklist

3 Biggest Email Newsletter Mistakes I See Everywhere + Checklist To Avoid Them

Emily Woodhouse Adventure Careers, Business and Marketing

I don’t talk about my job much on here. Heck, why would I? We’re all running around trying to spend less time doing things related to our jobs and more time having adventures (unless adventure is our job…).

My job is in Marketing. Predominantly online or digital marketing, but not in the way you might think. I’m not the person who gets to wave the airy-fairy marketing wand around and come up with exciting new schemes. I don’t spend my time making exciting new graphics or designs either. (What, you mean you noticed graphics aren’t my forte?)

Nope, I’m the numbers girl. I take the strategies that other people have started and pull them to pieces. I find out if the pretty pictures are working. I find out if people are clicking the buttons they’re meant to be or scrolling straight past. I guess you’d call it optimisation. By digging into the detail and the structure, I find out what’s working and what’s not – allowing us to ditch the losers and supercharge the winners. Hey, that sounded more glamorous than I thought!

The thing is, I’m starting to see more and more people in the adventure space who could do with some advice. Not in an “I know better than you” way, but after having dissected marketing funnel after marketing funnel, adjusted social media accounts, email broadcasts etc – I’ve started to see a pattern.

I’m going to start doing 1 post a month about the technical/marketing/business side of adventure. Not too much, but enough that it’ll hopefully be useful for you readers trying to escape the grind.

The Email List

Everyone seems to think they need one. Not many people tell you why you need one. You’re told to make one, so you do. Fact number 1: you need an email list if you want direct and reliable contact with your audience.

Let’s break this down:

  • Direct – means you’re putting the information straight into their hands.
  • Reliable – means you (roughly) know the information is going to reach them
  • With Your Audience – means your information gets to the people who want to read it and them only

It’s kind of like being able to put your information through a front door, instead of putting your information on a bus stop and hoping your audience walk past. People generally bang on about email lists as a better alternative to social media for these reasons. And what do all these reasons boil down to? Control.

Email Newsletter Mistakes

Hopefully some of you just read that and went, “Oooooooh…” Does that make more sense now? You only need an email list if you want direct, reliable contact with your audience. If you’re cool with a more scatter-gun approach on social media, that’s okay too.

People are often encouraged to start an email list asap. There is some merit in that – in the sense that an email address (with permission to send stuff to) is like a little nugget of gold. But, I would strongly recommend working out why you want a list and roughly what you want to send them. In fact, heck – decide exactly what you want to send them and commit to it. Most people start with a newsletter because it’s general enough to morph a bit as you work out what it is you really want to talk about.

So, without further ado, here are the top 3 email newsletter mistakes that make me cringe a little when I see them… and they are everywhere!

1.Nobody Signs Up For Updates

Nobody signs up to an email list for updates! Ok, wait – that’s not true. My Mum would sign up for updates from me. Your family members and close-ish friends? They’ll sign up for updates if they don’t see you too often but would quite like to keep a handle on your life. These people will sign up regardless of what you’re doing.

Updates on WHAT? That’s the first question I’d ask. We all get enough updates in our lives already. Hundreds of emails hit my inbox every day updating me about savings and deals, time sensitive offers and my old uni trying to persuade me to donate…

All that inspiration came out of my deleted emails folder. Never mind all the notifications we get from social media, the bings from messages and, of course, the computer updating you that it needs to update…

So, if I’m going to sign up for an update without knowing what I’ll be updated on, it needs to be something or someone I really care about. I think this idea of updates comes from a world when we used to get blog subscriptions via email. People still do this, I know, (more later) but there is far less incentive now when you’re informed about new posts over every social media channel, whilst inboxes are becoming increasingly fuller. Plus if you know I blog every Monday, why would you need an email reminder too?

The Exception That Breaks The Rule

When is it okay to ask people to sign up for updates? When it’s clear what they’ll be updated on. For example, on an expedition’s progress or how a project is progressing. If you have a dedicated website for your adventure and your audience know you’re going to be posting irregularly, then it makes sense to ask them to sign up for updates.

But remember this list has limited value, because you can’t use it after the expedition has finished.

2. Don’t Call It A Newsletter!

Wait, what? Isn’t this blog post about email newsletters? Well yes, but let’s think… what comes to mind when you think of a newsletter? Personally I think of the A4 sheets they hand out at church or school, telling you there’s a bake sale on this week and don’t forget it’s mufti on Friday. The sort of things that you fold in half and stuff into a pocket to give to your mum when you get home. Do you read it? No.

Alongside this, these newsletters have an association with being amateur. Ugly presentation, clip art or word art (remember that?!) and just a bit naff or boring. They’re something you get given just because and they’re often cobbled together with mundane, not particularly interesting information.

Okay, now that I’ve offended every newsletter printer in the country…

My advice would be to call it something else other than newsletter. Maybe even something else entirely. (Put down that thesaurus!) Try to think of something that summarises what each email does and  makes it sound interesting!!

Have you heard of “The Skimm“? It’s a daily news email that gives you a minute digest of what’s going on in the world, written in a tone as if your friend read the news and is summarising it for you. They could have called it a Daily World Headlines Newsletter. But they didn’t.

For more tips about how to name your email newsletter, scroll to the bottom for the Checklist.

3. Hiding the Subscribe Button So Well You Can’t Find it Even if You’re Looking For It!

True story. If you have an email newsletter weekly dose of adventure inspiration, you may as well make it easy for people to get on it. Okay, no one likes a pop up. But if someone in your audience has self-selected, don’t make it difficult. For example, would you look for a subscribe button inside a contact form?

email newsletter subscribe hidden

If you’re offering good stuff on your email newsletter (“good stuff” being the technical term for no spam and the specific thing the person signed up for) then there’s no need to hide it. Having an email list isn’t intrinsically embarrassing. Be proud of the good stuff you’re sharing and make it easy to get hold of – or your list will never get any bigger.

Was That Helpful? Want To Be 100% Sure You Avoid These Mistakes?

I really hope you’ve found that helpful. It’s turned into a waaay longer blog post than I was planning, so clearly I have a lot to say on the topic (rant…). If you read this and have recognised your email optin, please don’t take it personally! All examples are from the adventure community, some fairly famous, but there are hundreds more to choose from.

If you read this and are now thinking – how can I make sure I definitely don’t make these 3 mistakes on my email newsletter? You’re in luck! Instead of making this blog post eeeven longer, I’ve made a little checklist with prompts to help you pin down why you’re building an email list and how to describe it.

Email Mistake Checklist

To get it, pop your email address into the box below and I’ll send you the password to the free resources page.

Now available for everyone on the Resources Page.