Are you making any of these email marketing mistakes?

By Matt Sellhorst

Getting the most out of your email marketing is like getting the best performance from your boat. It requires more than just having lots of horsepower. Little tweaks like getting it propped just right, adjusting the trim or ballast, or even weight distribution all combine to deliver the best performance.

A single mistake in one of the areas could result in a catastrophic failure. The same goes for your email marketing. 

Here are five email marketing mistakes that are likely costing you maximum performance and money.

1. Poor subject lines

The first step to a successful email campaign is to get the email opened. If the email is not opened, there is no chance of achieving the action your email is crafted to elicit. Research has shown that 35% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.

So, take a few extra minutes to craft your email subject line to something that will capture your recipient’s attention and drive them to open it. One of our best performing subject lines includes the words ‘your boat.’

2. Pretty pictures

Example of image failing to load

Once the email is opened, the next goal is to get your email read by the recipient, right?

This can become a challenge if sending an HTML email that is mostly an image. It may look great when it shows up properly however many of your recipients will only see the dreaded red “X” (see example) when an image is not able to be shown properly. Although each email service and anti-virus program has different settings when it comes to the privacy and image blocking, there is a percentage (10% to 35%) of your subscribers that only see an error instead of your beautiful image-based email.

The email best practice — which is more work but will deliver better results over time — is to incorporate both image and text. Now, your message still has an opportunity and your campaign will be a bigger success.

3. No clear call to action

With our work so far, you’ve used a great subject line to get the email open. You’ve designed and crafted a message to be readable regardless of how images are handled by privacy and spam filters. Now its time to get your subscribers to take action.

Be 100% crystal clear with the action you’d like them to take. And, make it easy as possible to take that action. Your effort will be rewarded.

4. One email will not always do

In today’s digital world, we get lots of emails every day. That means your email could easily get lost and in some cases may never be found.

The solution?

If something is important enough to send one email, it’s likely important enough to send multiple emails.

When working with our clients, we’ll create a three- to five-step email series for an on-site event. And sometimes even resend a newsletter or boat preview to those subscribers that have not opened the email after a week. This practice has dramatically increased open and click-thru rates for our clients and ultimately increased their sales.

5. Not collecting everyone’s email address

There’s another way all the insights above won’t have any impact. And that’s if you don’t have someone’s best address to send them an email. This is so simple, yet so powerful that I had to include it in this article, because I’ve seen the impact it had on many dealers.

Instill a culture of placing value on accurate information of everyone that comes in contact with your boat business. Meet someone at a boat show, collect their best email address. Sell a part, collect their email address. Talk to someone on the phone, collet their email address.

These contacts are all future sales for your boat business. This single shift in focus for some dealers could be the difference between eeeking thru a slowdown or thriving.

This month’s challenge: Review your past five email campaigns and rate them on a scale of 1-5 using this article as a checklist. Then, re-write them and send them to me at I’ll send you the audio version of my book; Boat Dealer Profits for taking action. 

Matt Sellhorst is the founder of Boat Dealer Profits Marketing Agency and author of the only business building book for the retail boating industry, “Boat Dealer Profits; How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun.” Claim your free copy at  

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