The 7 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing


It’s hard to believe, but email was invented 45 years ago in 1972. Upon the worldwide adoption of the internet in the 1990s, email’s popularity spread and is still widely in use today. Contrary to some predictions, email is not dead, and has become a pillar of modern communication. While younger generations are becoming more active on other messaging platforms, email still remains a viable and regularly used means of communication for lawn care, landscaping and tree service companies to prospects and customers of all ages.

Email marketing is used by many green industry companies to communicate with both prospective and current customers. Frustration and poor results are common because many companies view email like traditional advertising methods.

There are many assumptions and misjudgments that can kill email marketing results. Here are the seven deadliest mistakes your green industry company can make.

1. Ignoring context

There’s one magic formula in email marketing that you should hang over your computer as a constant reminder: Content + Context = Success. The “what” in emails often gets most of the attention, but the “who” and “why” is commonly ignored by green industry companies.

Sending email blasts to a mass list of customers, communicating the same messaging or boring e-newsletter without considering if that email makes sense for its recipient, is the biggest factor that influences email campaign success. Deliver irrelevant emails, and you’ll quickly have your treasured email contacts unsubscribing from all future emails. The more ultra-specific you can be with both your content and recipient’s context, the better chances you have of email opens and click-throughs.

2. Email templates that aren’t mobile responsive

Approximately half of all emails sent out by lawn care, landscaping and tree service companies are opened on a mobile device. Yet they are most commonly designed on a desktop or laptop computer. While they may appear perfect in your view, they may look terrible on mobile devices.

Email services like MailChimp, Constant Contact and HubSpot offer optional email templates that are mobile responsive. This is not always the default setting, so be sure the emails you send out resize text and move images for a user-friendly experience for half of your recipients. Otherwise, you won’t have much chance of jumbled, tiny text being read.

3. Poor subject lines

Think about how many emails someone gets during the course of a day. A staggering majority of these emails are deleted without even being opened. Their subject lines can be generic, repetitive and obnoxious. Approximately 33 percent of people use the subject line alone to determine if it’s being opened or trashed.

However, subject lines with the right combination of context and cleverness intrigue a recipient enough to open them. There are many resources online about writing great email subject lines, so brush up on some latest tips and test out some new formats.

4. Long, boring email content

Attention is earned piece by piece. If you think that someone is going to read more than 10 or 11 sentences in an email, you’re dead wrong. In fact, if they don’t see the bottom of an email quickly enough, they will start to scroll, looking for the end and hit the delete button if they see it’s a neverending monologue.

Email marketing messages should give a couple sentences to pull the reader in, clearly state the benefits to continue reading and then give only short teasers to more detailed content. A “Read More” link along with an attractive thumbnail image can link to content that is found on your website. Then, interested recipients can get the level of detail they want and consume more content and convert into qualified leads.

5. Being a promotion machine

While it may work for retail, if you continuously send lawn care, landscaping or tree service promotional offers to your email list, you’re going to see a lot of unsubscribes. A recipient’s need for service is more important than saving a little cash. Sure people love to save, but if it’s not for something that has already interested them, it comes off as desperate and self-serving.

Try to keep a good balance of promotions. If you send 25 email campaigns in a year, I recommend only four or five of them be outright promotional offers. Embrace a relationship that resembles a teacher/student rather than a salesperson/buyer. That builds trust and generates more email marketing leads.

6. Sending emails too often or too infrequently

So how often should I email my customers or prospects? That’s a very good question without a definite answer. Part of finding the right context for an email recipient requires great timing. A lot of the topics green industry companies write about are influenced by the time of year and what may be a relevant message. However, a lot happens in the spring and summer, leading companies to err on the side of too many emails.

From my experience with email marketing in lawn care, landscaping and tree services over the years, I would recommend sending no more than two emails per month to a given contact. Now keep in mind that if you’re doing a good job of segmenting your lists for optimum context, you could send more than two campaigns per month, just to separate groups. It’s always good to err on the side of not annoying your prospects and customers.

However, it’s also good to maintain some level of predictable frequency for your clients. If you’re being educational and helpful, many will actually look forward to your regular messages in their inbox.

7. Repetition without analysis

Most of us have heard the famous Albert Einstein quote, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.” Yet, year after year, we send the same emails and make the same mistakes, all while inaccurately concluding email marketing doesn’t work for our company.

Analyze the data from emails. Look at how certain subject line formats are performing versus others. Consider the best days and times to send emails for optimum opens and clicks. Test different images, font effects and more. Make decisions to change your strategy based on data, not gut feelings.

Get the message

Email marketing can be a powerful and extremely cost-effective marketing method for lawn care, landscaping and tree service companies. Spend time learning the best practices and craft a strategy for your company with your prospects’ and customers’ needs ahead of yours, and you will see email marketing successes.