Let's cut to the chase. Mailers can be fiddly to put together, and they're more time-consuming to construct than people imagine.

However, there are a number of basic things you can make sure you've nailed - right from the off.

Here are some of the most common mailer fails I see on a weekly basis (as mail recipient).

Let's start at the top of a typical mailer draft template, and move down...

1. Typo in subject line

Many of us have done it; we're not robots. However, this is obviously one of the first things your mailer recipient will see on receiving your email, so spelling every word correctly - using the right punctuation and grammar - is going to be important.

Why? Because it doesn't make a good impression to miss out a letter or a word; particularly if it means that 'Do you need an online assistant?' becomes 'Do you need an online ass?'.

That's a drastic example, but you get the point. 

Check your subject line just before sending to double-check everything's as it should be!

2. No preview text INCLUDED

I have seen this happen just last week, when I received a mailer from none other than a digital agency. They totally forgot about filling in the preview text part of their mailer. It's not the end of the world, but it's a missed opportunity in terms of enticing your mailer recipient to open your campaign.  

I'm always pretty surprised about the amount of errors made by digital agencies - surely if digital marketers can't even get things right - who else is going to?

Always fill in the mailer preview part of the draft - it's tedious, but particularly with ambiguous / cryptic subject lines, this can mean the difference between an 'open' or a 'delete'.

3. MISSING personalisation and / OR wrong tone in copy

Now we come to the main body of copy. These are the words which are going to inform / convince / begin a conversion of some sort.

Is that personalisation token in there, and is it working? Or am I about to send mailers out to thousands saying 'Hi NAME'? It's a fear I always have whenever I send a mailer out.

I've seen this happen in a previous role - made my heart sink. It doesn't happen that often, but when others make this error, and you see it - sometimes big companies too - my heart sinks. Because you know that it was totally avoidable with a bit more checking

Also - tone. Most of the time, people seem to get this right, but there are occasions when getting the tone wrong can confuse people - or worse, rub them up the wrong way.

The latter happened to me earlier this year when I received an invitation to get involved in a (pretty established) content marketing agency's new initiative. Here's the line from their mailer which really annoyed me:

"From marketing influencers like x and LinkedIn's x to scrappy B2B marketers just like you, speakers will be...."

Erm. Sorry, what.

To this day, I'm unsure as to whether something was lost in translation across the Atlantic Ocean, but to me - the tone was a little off.

I actually got a bit annoyed by it, and I contacted them with a one-liner to make my point. I didn't hear back. Good one. *Hits unsubscribe*

Don't have a heart-sink moment - double check that any personalisation tokens you add to your mailer - whether it's in the subject line and / or in the main body of text - are all present and working perfectly. Try and remove yourself from any internal language and assumptions made of your audience, and write your mailer copy so it's pitched correctly and really resonates with the reader. 

4. No Call-To-Action (cta)

You go to all that trouble to draft the mailer copy, build it, do all the admin associated with pulling out your mailing list, test it, and you forget to put in the instruction of what you want your mailing list targets to do when they open your mailer. 

There's not really much point of a campaign without some kind of call to action in there. You need to include at least one clear CTA link (whether it's a big button, a block, a banner...), and many would say just one CTA link is perfect.

I say: try and keep to one CTA instruction message, but you can repeat it via hyperlinking appropriate accompanying images and body text too. Multiple CTAs which differ from each other are more appropriate in, for example, a newsletter type of mailer, where it's fair enough that you're giving your audience a choice of what to click on next.

5. Poor visibility of 'UNSubscribe' option... or no 'unsubscribe' option

I'm sure many of us are being spammed on a daily basis by someone or other - in my case, some connections on LinkedIn seem to like to send me uninvited mailers which either talk about something which is pretty irrelevant to me, or they harp on about how great their company is and which new joiners they've hired (why do I care?).

I think I unsubscribe from 2-3 of these types of mailer each day, but there have been times when I have been unable to even find the link. This smacks of a company or organisation who do not have a clue what they're doing. 

Then, occasionally, there'll be the 'hidden' unsubscribe link - which kind of irritates me even more. Look at this company's line below. They think they're trying to be clever, but they're actually being unhelpful, unprofessional and sneaky: 

I mean, this is just bad practice. 

As I've said in previous blogs about mailer stuff: if you're using a reputable mailer platform, they'll factor in the whole 'unsubscribe' shizzle by default. You won't even have to think about it. Giving your audience the clear choice to unsubscribe is a must, and with GDPR coming in May 2018, this is going to be more important to include than ever.