Email marketing is one of the original forms of online marketing, making its way into households worldwide in the 1990s. Although it’s been around for decades, email marketing requires skill to be properly implement. It’s something that all business owners can do, but unfortunately, it’s not something that everyone can execute successfully.
Below are 5 of the most common mistakes made by email marketers - and recommendations to guarantee you equip yourself with the best practices and tools to make sure your efforts are intentional and driving the best results possible.
1. Not Mapping Out a PlanIt is common knowledge that email marketing is one of the most implemented marketing channels during the holiday season, but is so often put to the wayside throughout the rest of the year. If you struggle to decide what to cover in this month’s email and think to yourself “Um, let’s just do 15% off,” then you need to re-evaluate and reset your efforts.
Make sure to map out a plan of content for your emails over the entire year as a guide to ensure you stay on track and maintain consistency. This email calendar can always be changed based on the ebbs and flows of your market and your business needs, but is a great place to start and provide structure to your year of emails. Having a plan mapped out also means you can hit peaks in your season intentionally and aggressively to capitalize on potential high-revenue seasons. Depending on what your business needs are, this calendar can include content, product callouts, promotions or incentives, and seasonality.
2. Not Using Your DataOne of the biggest mistakes marketers make is not tracking their email marketing efforts. They spend hours designing and creating their emails, building their customer lists, and sending out their emails – but they don’t track their progress.
It’s imperative to track the statistics of your emails so you can determine whether or not it’s actually working. Make sure you have a Google Analytics tracking code installed both on your site and in each of your emails. This code allows you to measure how your emails perform compared to other types of traffic and which specific email campaigns pull the best metrics.
Drill down to get more granular by learning customer behavior within your specific campaigns. To achieve this, create unique tracking codes for each link in your email. Google provides a quick URL generator that we highly recommend, especially if you’re including many links within one email. This allows you to see which links are compelling the subscribers to click and if the landing page it’s linked to is appropriate for a smooth, valuable user experience.
3. Not ContextualizingIt’s frustrating to be a loyal customer and have a brand communicate with you as if you’ve never met. This has likely happened to all us at least once. What do you think to yourself when you’re in the subscriber's position? “Wow, get it together!” or perhaps even “That’s embarrassing…” So make sure you take measures so that your subscribers don’t think the same thing about your brand.
You can avoid these mistakes by making your emails personal. Address recipients using their first names to show you have a relationship with them. Or, if you capture your subscribers’ birthdays, send a birthday email to show your brand cares about its customers. This type of personalization helps build a community of loyal customers, as well as increases engagement.
If you have the resources and a large customer list, you can use segmentation to get more targeted with your customer list. For example, if you’re running a promotion on a specific product, send an email to those who purchased that product X months before to help build your retained customers. This is a nice way to keep them coming back for more.
Lastly, get personal by knowing what your customers want to read more about. Make sure your content is relevant and educational. This can be especially true in B2B models because other businesses are looking to your brand as the authority figure to help take their own business to the next level.
4. Not Considering DesignInternet trends are changing at lightning speed, so it can be difficult to stay current. However, using a design that was created 3 years ago is no longer acceptable. Old designs will look outdated, giving the impression that the site isn’t well-maintained or trustworthy. In addition, the coding of old desins is usually not supported on common devices used today, like mobile. Don’t compartmentalize design, coding, branding and marketing efforts – they are all one, cohesive experience.
In fact, according to Litmus, “[This] February ended with mobile representing 55% of opens, webmail with 26% of opens, and desktop with 19% of opens” If the email coding you’re using isn’t mobile friendly, it’s hurting a potentially large number, if not majority, of subscribers. Don’t alienate those subscribers; rather, welcome them with updated designs for all types of device.
In addition to usability, it’s important to keep subscribers guessing. Often, marketers use the same email template with the same hero graphic and may change just one or two items. This will become stale and cause subscribers to lose interest. Have fun with your emails by using captivating content and designs to reinforce your brand and the user experience.
5. Not A/B TestingSo many efforts are being made with intention and are being tracked diligently – but are they achieving the best results? A/B testing in the context of email marketing is sending an email to two separate, unbiased test segments of your subscriber list with one element changed in each email to see which is most successful. Whichever of the two is most successful is then sent to the remainder of the subscriber list. This type of testing is invaluable because efforts can continuously be improved and refined.
The subject lines for email marketing are how you sell yourself within the clutter of an inbox. It’s the first taste that a subscriber has to determine if they’re going to engage with your email or mindlessly throw it into the trash. Continuously test different subject lines to see which achieves the highest open rate.
Another great metric to test is the time of the day your email is sent to subscribers. If your customer base is B2C, then test sending it around noon, the typical time people take lunch breaks and browse their personal emails. Or maybe, on a Thursday at 2:00 pm because they need a quick afternoon break. This type of testing will help you learn your customer’s buying cycle and assist in other types of paid advertising as well.
The last great testing element to try are calls-to-action (CTAs), which are visuals that help guide viewers to the next step in your sales funnel. CTAs are typically hero graphics, buttons or content that encourage subscribers to click to your site and hopefully make a purchase. Have fun with different button colors or the content “Buy Now” versus “Start Shopping”. Those little elements might seem insignificant, but they can make a huge difference in the revenue gained or lost.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re just starting out with email marketing or you’ve been doing it for years. What other types of email marketing mistakes do you avoid? Share your ideas and questions in the comments below!