As British business owners, we often struggle to put ourselves and our businesses ‘out there’.

It’s true that manners are important, but the classic British reserve can get in the way of marketing our businesses in the most effective way, and email marketing is no exception.

Here are the top 5 mistakes I see British businesses make with their email newsletters (and what you can do about each of them):

1. Not asking for the sign-up

In order to get sign-ups for your mailing list, you have to ask people to join it, and a ‘join my mailing list’ box or button is not going to cut it.

What you need to do is to ask people to join your list wherever and whenever you connect with them, offline (e.g. meetings, phone calls) and online (e.g. every page of your website, on your social profiles).

That doesn’t mean you need to be pushy. Simply tell them what is in your newsletter that they would find valuable and ask them if they’d like to receive it. They can always say ‘no’ and that’s okay too.

2. Forgetting to include a call to action

The whole point of marketing is to elicit a physical and measurable response from your audience, i.e. you need to get people to DO something as a result of your email. However, people won’t take the action that you want them to take unless you ask them to do it.

The key is to spell out clearly what you want them to do. This applies whether you are asking them to buy from you right now, or you want them to do something else (like read an article, attend an event, or call you to set up a meeting).

One of the best ways to achieve a good call to action (CTA) in an email newsletter is to write your CTA BEFORE the rest of your newsletter content. So, you start with your CTA and then write a tip or an article that encourages people to act on your CTA.

3. Using passive language

Look at the words you use in your newsletter. A common practice, particularly in the UK, is to use very passive language. Examples of passive language are: ‘we would like to…’, or ‘our aim is to…’.

There’s nothing wrong with passive language in itself, but be careful how you use it.

I don’t really care what you ‘would like to’ do. What I want to know is what you actually achieve for your customers – whether that’s making them happy, feeding them with great food, or increasing their bottom-line.

Use more of this ‘active’ language – it’s an easy fix, and will have an impact on how you are perceived.

4. Not promoting your products or services

Email newsletters shouldn’t be one big ‘sell, sell, sell!’, but you CAN talk about what you do or the products that you sell – after all, your subscribers have ASKED to receive communications from you, so they are interested in what you have to offer and say.

There are ways that you can talk about your products and services without making people cringe, and that’s what you want to look for. Maybe you include a ‘product of the month’, or offer a different fact about one of your services each issue. Or how about a customer-focus each issue, where you talk about an issue that a customer had, and how your products/services fixed that. Don’t forget to include a link for them to order or find out more.

5. Thinking you can’t blow your own trumpet

The truth is that you SHOULD think you are good at what you do. If you don’t think you’re good, then you shouldn’t be in business doing it, but that’s another story…

It’s okay to talk about your work with pride, and share your successes with your readers. It’s not about being big-headed, it’s about letting people know that you’re pleased with the responses that you get from your customers and the difference that you make to them.

The way to do this without seeming obnoxious is to use customer testimonials to highlight the great stuff that you do without you having to say it.

The likelihood is that you are guilty of one or more of these errors, but that’s okay, because now you know what to do about them!

Are there other common email marketing mistakes you think businesses should watch out for? Share them in the comments below!