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Your Email Marketing Is Not Working for All the Usual Reason…

Email marketing is tricky business. It can make or break your brand sooner than you’d imagine. However, most digital marketers find themselves in the soup when their sincere email marketing efforts fail to bear fruit.

Most probably, you’re making one of the many common mistakes. In this guide, I’ll help you figure out why your email marketing jet is not taking off like you want it to.

You’re sending way too many of them, or worse still, too few.

Whereas blitzing your subscribers’ mailbox with a marketing email every other day is a sure shot way to forcing them to unsubscribe, it’s equally bad if you just don’t send emails often enough. The marketer dilemma, then, becomes — how often is too much, how often is too few, and how often is just right?

In its report titled “The Ideal Email Frequency,” Campaign Monitor distils its analysis from two billion emails! The key findings:

  • Email sending frequency impacts the open and unsubscribe rates.

  • First email campaigns invariably attract highest open rates, and unique open rates increase to a certain extent with subsequent campaigns.

  • With subsequent campaigns, however, unsubscribe rates increase.

  • After the sixth campaign, almost 50 percent subscribers would have opened at least one email, and 13 percent people would have clicked.

Soon enough, it becomes a question of comparing the cost of subsequent email campaigning with the value of the incremental unique clicks you get.

Related: From Clicks to Customers: 5 Ways to Improve Website Sales

Once every two weeks is the sweet spot in terms of getting more unique clicks, without having subscribers unsubscribing because of excess. However, most marketers send emails twice or thrice every week. You know better now.

You’re saying too many things in too many words.

Take it from me; emails are not the equivalent of letters, so don’t word them so. Considering how most subscribers see emails on smartphones, the time a marketer has to make the email talk is not much at all. It can be a huge blunder to include too many messages in a single email, to use too many words to deliver the message, or not to have a clear action point for the user

Instead, focus on a crisp and concrete call to action, and say it aloud in the fewest possible words. Before you send out that email, evaluate as to whether it captures the user’s attention and gets the message across in two seconds or less.

Here’s a terrific example of an email campaign by Bonobos. It’s hard to get any crisper and clearer.


It’s super clear from their email — the user just needs to click on his size to save. Done.

You just don’t know your audience.

It’s tough to figure out how many email marketing campaigns fail just because the messages are not attuned to the target audiences. It’s critical for marketers to know their audience and appreciate its needs at different stages of interaction. Instead of continuing to shoot in the dark, use these tips to align your messaging with your audience.

Segmentation: Once you’re done with a couple of campaigns, run a survey to segregate audiences into groups based on the kind of information they say they want to receive (information on new products, promotional offers, etc). By sending targeted emails, you build trust, get more clicks, and get more conversions.

Create buyer personas: Detailed buyer personas help you maximize conversion rates from your email marketing campaigns. Use a buyer persona templates.

Personalization: A Litmus Software report suggested that big-data-powered, email personalization will be the second hottest trend in email marketing in 2017, just behind interactive emails.

So, personalize your emails. That task goes beyond just using your recipient’s name. It includes behavior triggered emails (for instance, Facebook reminds you when you don’t log in for five days), intelligent selection of timing of emails to different audience groups (based on your A/B tests), and customer personas.

Related: How Creating Buyer Personas will Double Your Marketing Results in 2017

Your emails are rotting in their spam folders.

You will never figure out what went wrong if your emails just don’t make to the inbox of your target recipients. Here are some of the pitfalls you need to avoid, along with some best practices to follow.

  • Don’t overuse words like free, buy, offer, promo, hurry, etc

  • Don’t make the emails size too bulky.

  • Test your email list with a list cleaning service like NeverBounce. This will stop you from being labeled as a spammer and getting banned by your email service provider.

  • Don’t purchase email lists; they’ll hurt you (mailbox providers can easily detect if you send emails to dead addresses, and that impacts your reputation as a sender).

  • Avoid attachments

  • Balance the image to text ratio

  • Make sure your images and other design assets are hosted with reliable service providers

  • If you’re linking to other websites, make sure they’re reliable

  • Avoid all caps and exclamation marks in your email subject line

Your email subject lines suck.

I’m sorry, but that might just be the truth. Here are some hard stats, to help you improve.

  • A study of poorly performing words studied across billions of emails’ subject lines found ‘whitepaper,’ ‘forecast,’ ‘training,’ and ‘journal’ among the worst performers. Dare not use them in your email subject lines.

  • Personalization in email subject lines was found to push email open rates by 37 percent, as explained by an Experian study.

  • Highest email open rates are associated with emails having subject lines less than 30 characters.

Remember, even the best of offers will not reach the audiences if the email subject line doesn’t draw them to open it. To make sure you do better, use one of the many email subject line analysis tools available for free online. Use power words, and break patterns, run A/B tests to figure out what works for your brand, and master the art of email subject lines as soon as you can.

You’re not measuring your email marketing results.

Email marketing data does not lie. Considering it’s much more structured than data generated on your social media profiles, it’s surprising how only a small percentage of email marketers actually measure what they do. Some of the most important stats you need to be on the top of are:  

  • Number of unique opens for a campaign

  • Number of click for a campaign

  • Percentage of conversions

  • Number of unsubscribes

  • Content styles and formats that attract most clicks

  • Subject line styles that get more email opens

With each campaign, your understanding of what works should improve, so that you can do more of the same.

Your emails are not mobile friendly.

If your email doesn’t load perfectly on all mobile screen sizes, you’re fighting a losing battle. To make sure you don’t commit this mistake ever, use one of the many online simulators that show how your emails will appear on a mobile screen.

In the same direction, also look to balance the text to visuals ratio for your emails. A traditional 80:20 text to image ratio is a pretty safe bet. Remember, very soon almost all emails will be read and responded to on smartphones, so be future-ready to ensure mobile responsiveness.

Your emails are plain boring.

If your emails don’t have a personality, you will not stick around on ‘subscribed’ lists for long. Now, best practices for better email copywriting are out of the scope of this guide, but always look for some curated lists of best email copywriting examples relevant to the campaign you have in mind. If you’re looking to get audience feedback with a survey, for example, try reviewing sites for showing the best email copywriting for surveys

Related: How to Ask Survey Questions for Maximum Marketing Benefit

Now I’ve not mince words here, you know there are things you have not done particularly well. I hope this guide gives you some starting point from which you can improve. Keep on improving, keep on experimenting, keep on measuring, and keep on grinding.

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