eFail! Top email marketing mistakes (and how to fix them)

Any business with an online presence has received their fair share of bad marketing emails. And we’re no exception. You would not believe some of the shockers that have found their way into our inboxes. Sometimes we’re tempted to hit ‘reply’ and start typing “I think you may need a little help with your digital marketing...”


Well, in this blog, we’ll be doing just that. We’ll take some examples we’ve received, cast a critical eye over the email marketing mistakes that have been made and provide some constructive advice on how to fix them.


So, without further ado, and with their names and businesses disguised to protect the (not so) innocent – let’s take a look at some email fails:


1. Don’t just ‘phone it in’



It’s often said that being brief and getting straight to the point are big virtues in marketing – or in any kind of communications. Here, the spirit of Ernest Hemingway is alive and well. But this is taking that mantra a little too far. Not only aren’t they demonstrating any interest or insight into our business, but they’re also giving us no real information about theirs. Call me cynical, but this does not strike me as an email that was written with a great deal of effort and consideration.


What can we tell from this email?


  • They’re a company of some kind (well, that narrows it down).
  • They provide ‘business contacts’ for ‘marketing purposes’ – so far, so vague.
  • They’d like to send over a ‘sample’ for free. A sample of what? One list? One contact?


Okay, you don’t want to drown your recipients in an ocean of unnecessary text. That’s often a good way to end up in the ‘Deleted items’ folder. But you have to be clear about who you are, your product or service and the value you offer prospective customers.


Moral of the story: put some thought and craft into it. Think about your value proposition and your audience’s needs and goals. If you express those, you’ll be off to a good start.


2. Target and personalise



We just warned against the dangers of being too brief. Well, this is the opposite. The sender clearly hasn’t segmented their list of contacts or their offerings in any way – they’re just telling us about every single thing they provide. Which, by the looks of things, includes everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.


The only thing here that’s in any way personalised or targeted is the recipient’s name – ‘Hi, Martina’. That’s it. There’s no attempt to engage the reader in terms of their individual role/organisation or initiate a ‘conversation’ with them – just straight in with ‘Access to 250M contacts...’ This email feels like a lot like spam – one of the biggest email marketing mistakes you can make – and is likely to be treated accordingly.


If you don’t want to end up in the spam folder, don’t act like a spammer. On the other hand, if you give the impression that it’s a credible inquiry, speaking to the recipient’s particular company’s needs, they’ll be much more likely to give you the time of day.


3. Always, always, always do your homework




At first glance, this looks good, right? Personalised, targeting a specific business decision-maker, appealing to a business goal – growth. Except Barnaby isn’t the founder – he’s the Head of Creative. Which they can find out pretty easily via that LinkedIn profile they linked in the very same sentence. Or our website.


This was a good attempt at targeting and personalisation. But when those personalised details are completely (or even a little bit) wrong, it has the exact opposite effect to what was intended. So, here’s the lesson from this one: always do your homework. Or if you’re using details from a list of leads, make sure those details are correct – and if you aren’t sure, don’t take a gamble.


Our tips for winning email marketing


So, as we’ve covered, it’s easy to write an email. But it can be a lot trickier to write a good marketing email. To conclude, let’s look at some of the key points from the examples here well as some email marketing tips and tricks from our team.


  • Get your value across clearly. And show the recipient how it’s relevant to their specific role/organisation. Why is your offering a good thing for them? Why should they choose you instead of a competitor?
  • Personalise as much as you can so they don’t just feel like one of many people on a very long list. This will also help you with the first tip – targeting your messages/offering to the specific person you’re talking to.
  • Don’t be overly familiar if you don’t know the recipient. As our CEO Chris says, “You don’t get past my inbox just by pretending to know me.” Genuine and friendly is good. Trying to trick your audience definitely isn’t.
  • Think twice before starting with “I know you’re busy...” – it’s such a cliché. OK, you value the recipient’s time – that’s good. Demonstrate that – you don’t necessarily have to say it. Or maybe not in those exact words, anyway.
  • Proof-read everything before you click ‘send’. I’m sure you noticed a few typos in some of the examples we showed. Everyone makes mistakes, but they give the impression of a lack of diligence and professionalism. If you spot them first, your recipients won’t.


Well, that wraps it up. I hope you’ve found this article useful. And to all the senders featured in these email fails – no hard feelings. We just needed some real-life examples of email marketing mistakes for illustrative purposes. And if you’d like a little help with making sure you nail yours in future – drop us an email?


Want to start winning new customers and growing your existing business with better email marketing? Let’s talk. Get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.

Virtual team collaboration, Microsoft Viva and why organisation change doesn't have to suck

For the past year, businesses and workers everywhere have been facing a working situation that can most politely be described as ‘uncertain and fluid’. ‘Change’ has been one of the words that’s defined 2020 and 2021, often combined with the phrase ‘at relatively short notice’. Virtual team collaboration has been the hero of the hour, helping countless people and organisations to keep soldiering on and keep communication going – both externally and internally.

With all this in mind, we’ve been thinking about change and how businesses can best communicate it to employees – from mergers and acquisitions to internal restructuring – as well as how they’re getting it wrong. And (because we’re a tech company as well as a marketing agency) we’ve been mulling over the role technology can play in ensuring organizational change doesn’t, for want of a better word, suck.

Changing the channels

We conducted a survey recently that asked this question: “How has your company communicated organisational change during the pandemic?” Here’s how people responded:

  • Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.): 29%
  • Group video meeting: 29%
  • One-to-one video call: 18%
  • Email: 24%

As you can see, in total more than three quarters of the people we polled said that their organisations communicated change via platforms like Teams and Slack or via video meetings/calls, rather than by email. This is encouraging – it indicates that businesses are taking advantage of the new channels open to them today, not just sticking with email, that overly formal old stalwart of internal comms that’s not too many rungs above a letter.

Organisations – and the creators of the tech they use – are clearly giving some consideration to how remote employee communication can do the job it needs to. That means helping to maintain company culture and unity and ensure change is conveyed and handled well.

Nurturing the life and soul of your business

The release of Microsoft Viva earlier this year shows that Microsoft, for one, has been thinking about how customers can do a better job of employee comms, engagement and support. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, maybe a year earlier, but they’re not Nostradamus, are they?

Microsoft says that Viva is designed to help organizations to amplify culture and communications, balance productivity and wellbeing, harness knowledge and expertise, and accelerate skilling and growth. It does this via a series of modules:

  • Connections – curated, company-branded gateway for news, talk and resources
  • Insights – a data-driven, privacy-protected view into productivity and wellbeing
  • Learning – encouraging and empowering employee education and development
  • Topics – organising organizations’ content and expertise and facilitating access

Sounds good, right? We’ll be sure to let you know our verdict when we’ve had a chance to test out this new set of tools over a proper period of time, but right now we can say that Viva looks extremely promising. And if you want to try Viva for yourself, you can learn more about it here.

Our CEO’s advice for internal communications

Like most organizations out there, Fifty Five and Five has handled its own fair share of organisational change during the last twelve months – you’d be surprised if we said we hadn’t, right?

As he captained our ship through the strange and stormy seas of the COVID-19 pandemic, our founder and CEO Chris Wright has his own insights into how best to communicate change. Take it away, Skipper:

  • “Communicating change only via chat messages is 100% the worst idea. Even if it’s harder to do it (nobody likes delivering bad news) change should always be shared face-to-face first or at least video.”
  • “Re-enforcing important messages in posts is fine, but that isn't how people should find out in this kind of information the first place. I think you owe it to people to explain it properly, in your own voice.”
  • “Company-wide change is hard to communicate in one go. I often think it’s best to share news about change with the people who it will have the most impact on first of all. Then tell the wider group.”
  • “Giving people a forum to ask questions is important. People need time to collect their thoughts after the initial announcement, and if you provide more Q&A opportunities, they’ll always think of new questions or remember thing they missed.”

There you have it – while making posts or sending messages via virtual team collaboration tools may be perfect for keeping business going during times of widespread remote working, it’s not the best channel for conveying organization change. For those purposes, there’s no substitute for talking face-to-face – even if those faces might be appearing in video feeds, rather than directly facing each other.

Toba’s tips for communicating organization change

Toba Shahabi is Fifty Five and Five’s Head of Project Management. And as a member of the Leadership Team as well as the Employee Representative, she also plays a central role in communication between management and the rest of the agency.

So, who better to consult on a topic like this? Toba shared her own thoughts on communicating organization change:

  • "Adaptable and fluidity are key. Change should be up for discussion if possible. The idea that the people in your organisation won't have an opinion on a particular change could be a huge oversight. And you as a company should strive to be able to take on feedback about change in a responsive way. Things should be able to adapt towards a more practical and hopefully more efficient future after employees voice their feedback."
  • "Keep it frequent. Adopt a variety of styles of comms to suit different people's preferences. More importantly, provide consistent and frequent touchpoints to check in with employees. This allows leaders to have a pulse on the feelings of the company at any given time. That allow them to either continue or change track depending on positive or negative feedback."
  • "Don’t be a dictatorship. Being rigid in terms of policy and not asking for feedback is a sure way to find your colleagues and employees frustrated and looking for other companies to work for, especially, ones who will listen."

Good advice, I think you’ll agree. Transparency and opportunities for open dialogue are always appreciated – after all, communication is a two-way street. Remembering that is sure to set organisations in good stead – whatever changes they need to communicate, and via whichever methods they choose to communicate it.

How’s your B2B marketing? Introducing our Top Movers and Shakers blog series

Welcome to our new monthly series of blogs celebrating the very best B2B marketing in the Microsoft Partner Network. Fifty Five and Five’s Top 50 Report, first launched in 2014, ranks the digital marketing efforts of Microsoft partners, analysing and assessing four key criteria: content, website, technology, and SEO.

Now existing in digital form, the Top 50 runs in real time, updated on a weekly basis, to give you a better, more accurate picture of how effective your B2B marketing is. This provides a great way to measure your success and to benchmark against other Microsoft partners, including competitors.

Use our site as a stepping stone to success
Social: Looking for ideas on how to improve your social content? Why not see who has got the best social score this week and check out what’s lighting up LinkedIn right now.

Shout about success: Have you run a recent rebranding campaign that you’re really proud of? See if it has bumped up your score.

Measure your outcomes: Looking for another way to measure success for the next board meeting? You can point to your standing in our Top 50. We won’t mind. It’s what it’s there for.

Are you a mover? A shaker? ...a candlestick-maker?

Obviously, B2B marketing success is ultimately determined by leads and conversion rates. But rising to the top of our league table is an extra accolade. Just ask Bizagi, who currently sit in the number one spot. But it’s not only about who’s at the top. As we rank up to 250,000 Microsoft partners in our weekly updates, everyone who gets into the Top 50 is doing something special to get there. And these partners deserve to be recognised and celebrated.

This new blog series will focus on the movers and shakers within the Top 50, a dynamic look at what is going on in the world of Microsoft partner marketing.

Each blog will have a slightly different focus, and we won’t stick to a formula. Sometimes we might highlight the top 10 biggest movers or the top 10 overall scores for the month, but other times we might simply want to highlight amazing campaigns that have caught our eye.

Why benchmarking is so important for B2B marketing

It’s never been more important to strategically plan your marketing – and benchmarking has a vital role to play in this. You need a clear overview of your strengths and weaknesses, alongside those of your competitors. With data-driven insights, sourced from our digital Top 50, you’ll be able to track your marketing progress and keep an eye on the latest marketing trends as they develop. We can help you to stay ahead of the curve and realise your ambitions.

May’s Top Movers and Shakers

We’re going to kick this series off by highlighting the great work of the three partners who have enjoyed the greatest rise in this month’s Top 50. They are:

  • TechQuarters
    TechQuarters had hovered just outside the Top 100 for a while, but finally earned their place in the Top 50 at the end of March. Now they’re in the Top 10 – what a great achievement.

TechQuarters are a Microsoft Cloud Partner who work with forward-thinking organisations who are looking for reliable IT Support and want to modernise their systems.

  • CMIT Solutions
    It’s a similar story for CMIT Solutions who had been hovering around the Top 50 and now sit in 38th place, after a few months of solid, consistent marketing. Nice one.

CMIT Solutions provide essential IT services such as remote work support, cybersecurity and IT support.

  • Enhansoft
    Not quite as much of a meteoric rise as the other two, but still an impressive jump. Enhansoft have moved up from near 90th place and have become a regular in the Top 50 this month. As of writing, they are currently standing strong in 39th place.

Enhansoft give organisations the tools to take control your IT asset inventory, helping customers in the Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager community.

TechQuarters on “fresh content constantly”: an interview

In this blog series, we hope to provide value-adding insight and analysis directly from the Movers and Shakers themselves. This month, Fifty Five and Five’s James Woods sat down with Elly Smith, Marketing Manager at TechQuarters, to discuss how TechQuarters approach B2B marketing.

Hi Elly, congratulations on your current Top 10 position. What is the key to your marketing success?

“At TechQuarters, our key channels and focus areas for marketing are organic SEO and paid ads. We approach both with the mantra, ‘‘fresh content constantly’. For us, this means weekly blogs, videos across social media almost every day and updating content and advertising on a continual basis. The way we got to this place is by sticking to a plan in terms of quantity, analysing the results and learning from our mistakes.”

What have you found works best for you?

“We’ve found that short, sharp snippets of relevant information are what works; especially in an industry with new developments and information being released all the time. One of our goals is to be a source of continual education for both the partner and customer networks on our social channels. This was affirmed by our win of ‘Cloud Visionary of the Year’ at the last UK Cloud Awards. Spending a week crafting an article or video may mean you miss the opportunity to be one of the first to report on the latest trends, so speed is of the essence.”

How important are benchmarking and data-driven insights in developing your marketing strategy?

“Our process is definitely based on good groundwork and analysis over the years – knowing our audience, knowing what converts and also knowing our in-house capabilities. Now that we have these mastered, we‘re not afraid to try new things, as we know we have a good basis to jump off from.”

Until next time…

That’s all for the first of our Top 10 Movers and Shakers blogs. We hope to see you here next month for another celebration of Microsoft Partner marketing. Or perhaps you’ll feature as one of our Movers and Shakers next time around. We’ll have to wait and see.

At Fifty Five and Five, we help technology companies grow their business, drive brand awareness and achieve their marketing goals. To learn more about B2B marketing best practices for Microsoft partners, get in touch with the team today.

Podcast image - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

Our latest podcast - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

COVID-19 has accelerated the move to hybrid working for many businesses. As lockdowns were imposed and offices closed, the cloud became essential for accommodating remote employees. However, now that life—and business—is beginning to get back to normal, what does this mean for hybrid working? Is it here to stay? We called Rebecca Zaagman and Adam Devereaux, IT specialists at Worksighted and asked them if hybrid working may be the key to success for growing businesses now and in the future.