5 Common Mistakes Email Marketers Make Before Reading This
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to directly and immediately reach your target audience. While email campaigns are, for the most part, easy to implement with the help of software like HubSpot, Klaviyo, and MailChimp, there are a lot of simple and common mistakes email marketers make.
In this article, we're highlighting the top five email marketing pitfalls that we see our clients needing our help to navigate the most. Continue reading for best practices to send optimized emails to your audience and avoid learning the dos and don’ts of email marketing the hard way.
1. Neglecting to Optimize for Mobile
Emails ensure your messages reach your audience where they spend most of their time — even on their smartphones. In 2021, it’s projected that the average daily time people will spend on their smartphones is 3 hours and 54 minutes. However, it’s not enough to send out emails and hope your customers will open them on their phones. To maximize exposure, the material you’re sending needs to be optimized for smartphone and tablet consumption.
So what happens when your email isn’t optimized for mobile?
Improperly formatted graphics may show up too large, too small, or not show up at all on mobile screens. Viewers may need to scroll sideways or zoom in/out to see all the information — what’s the likelihood that you yourself would do all that to read one email? We’re going to bet those odds are slim. Most people will just delete the email altogether.
Oftentimes, the basics of mobile optimization simply go unchecked. Be sure to keep your mobile users top-of-mind with each and every email build.
Check off each of the following before sending out your email:
- The subject line should be short enough to fit on a mobile screen (60 characters or less)
- Use a layout with one column & keep the width between 500-600 pixels
- Use a font size no smaller than 13 pt for the body, and a minimum font size of 22 pt for the header
- Always add alt text to the images
- Some operating systems like Android hide images in emails unless the user agrees for the images to be shown from a specific sender. Alt text ensures that even if an image doesn’t show up, text describes the content in place of the image.
Remember this: Mobile responsiveness is what you're optimizing for, not scalability. Scalable emails make the content smaller to fit on a smartphone screen. Whereas, responsive emails alter the entire layout to visually optimize for mobile devices. For example, if your email has two columns, making it responsive will transform the layout into one column when viewed on mobile screens. This automatic change makes the mobile users’ view more concise, easy to read, and user-friendly.
2. Failing to Utilize Email Analytics
Most email marketing software includes analytics with their plans so marketers can gain insights into the habits of their customers. Email marketers can use these analytics to make data-driven decisions to further advance their email marketing strategy.
Analytics help marketers see which content, subject line, time of day, or day of the week their contact list is most likely to engage. Open-rates inform you of the percentage of people who successfully opened the email out of the entire list of contacts the email was sent to. Within this data, email software usually includes the percentage of opens on smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. On average, the most optimal open-rates are between 20-30 percent. The best way to measure your open-rate progress is by checking your average open-rate each quarter — if your open-rate was 16 percent in Q1 and then 18 percent in Q2, you’re doing something right!
Another helpful analytical tool marketers use is the click-through rate of emails. This gives marketers insight into which links people are clicking on within the email. You can even create segmented lists for those contacts that click on specific links. Typically, a click-through rate of around or above 10 percent is considered average. One way to improve your click-through rate is to use actionable buttons instead of text links.
Additionally, you’ll want to be sure to keep an eye on the bounce rate of your emails. There are two subcategories of bounce rates — hard and soft bounces. A hard bounce is when an email fails to deliver for reasons such as the email address no longer exists or the domain name is incorrect. A soft bounce, on the other hand, can occur for many reasons. It’s possible that the email didn’t meet the recipient’s spam requirements, or the email may have been too large of a file to send to their inbox, or possibly that the email cannot be relayed between email servers. Soft bounces are usually temporary hiccups whereas hard bounces are permanent.
Finally, be proactive in checking your unsubscribe rate. People unsubscribe for several reasons — maybe the content isn’t relevant to them anymore or they were receiving too many emails. Whatever the reason, you can track why people unsubscribe through surveys conducted during the unsubscribe process. Once a recipient clicks unsubscribe, their browser will automatically open up to the survey (that they must complete in order to unsubscribe) and ask for the reason they’re removing themselves from your listserv. Use these metrics to better understand your customers and evolve your strategy to better meet their expectations and standards.
3. Not Creating Segmented Customer Lists
Depending on your data hygiene, you can create customer lists based on demographics like gender, occupation, industry, and more. Keep in mind, the options are limited to the data you've collected within your database.
Segmentation is a critical step to solidifying your ability to send targeted messages to different subsets of your audience based on significant buyer characteristics. For example, building buyer personas based on your ideal customer profile and then segmenting your database based on persona will help organize your efforts and allow for personalized targeting. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data about your existing customers.
An example of a buyer persona is something like “Millennial Millie.” She is around 30-35 years of age, is independent, single, and career-oriented. You can create emails specifically targeted to “Millennial Millie”(those customers that fit the persona) to more effectively warrant interaction from them throughout the buyer's journey.
Segmented lists help marketers keep track of their customer base and more effectively propel buyers through their purchase journey. Sending high-value content that inspires prospects to interact with the email leads to conversion. Continuing to nurture the recipient through quality content and top-notch user experiences will encourage positive brand recognition and even perhaps lead to that person becoming a brand promoter.
Let’s break down the email marketing channel step-by-step:
1. Generate Leads Through Content Marketing
Email opt-ins don’t just happen because you wish them to. It’s content marketing like blogs, downloadable resources, and social media that initially attract potential customers. If the content is of value and sparks their interest in your company, prospects are more likely to sign up to receive your emails. One way to execute this well is to use an email sign-up call-to-action in meaningful spots across your website.
2. Nurture Leads Based on Buyer Personas
After a prospect opts-in, you have the opportunity to segment contact lists based on the content that brought a prospect to your website in the first place. For example, let’s say a new contact signed up to receive your emails by downloading your PDF guide on the best sales technologies of 2020. Odds are, they are interested in learning more about effective sales techniques. Now that you know their interests, you can use that information to retarget them with relevant content that keeps them engaged in your brand.
3. Convert Customers with Visual and Helpful Content
Here is where the fun really begins. To convert prospects into customers, visually show them what your company offers and how much value your brand brings to the table. Introduce tutorials, use cases, and more product-related content through email marketing to move prospects along to the final purchase point.
4. Activate Customers and Keep in Touch
Yay! Your prospect made a purchase. Now what? Keep that customer loyal to your brand by continuing to stay in touch with them and providing valuable content. The continuous interactions will foster the relationship between the buyer and seller and allow the seller to inform the buyer of new products, special promotions, and extra quality content to keep customers engaged throughout their lifecycle.
Read 5 Fails to Avoid in Digital Lead Nurturing: A Checklist for Success here.
4. Failing to Meet Subscriber Expectations
Buyer expectations are absolutely critical to safeguard through your email marketing program. Not only do you want to ensure you're sending valuable information (never spam!) but frequency, relevancy, and meaning are of the utmost importance in meeting and exceeding buyer expectations as well. Spamming is the most common cause of a customer unsubscribing from an email list. Oftentimes, companies make promises they won’t keep like, “we don’t spam!” Only to then end up emailing their entire customer list every single day.
Set expectations early on when customers sign up for your emails. Do you send out a monthly newsletter? A weekly recap? Whichever works best for your company (based on data-driven decisions) is completely fine, just be sure to inform your customers before they sign up about what they can expect from subscribing to your email list.
Sometimes, less is more. The number one thing you want to avoid is database saturation. What you don't want to do is overload your contacts with too many emails. In March of last year, a survey was conducted to see how often emails were marked as spam and the global spam percentage was 53.95 percent! Another mistake to avoid is data fatigue — don’t sacrifice creativity just for the sake of getting content out to your subscribers.
Focus on email marketing campaigns that inform, intrigue, and are actionable versus generating an email every day just to remind your customers that you exist.
5. Creating Pushy or Boring Subject Lines
Subject lines are a super important aspect of email marketing. If the subject line doesn’t entice the reader, there’s a solid chance they won’t even open the email at all. On the other hand, you also don’t want your subject line to be salesy or at all click-baity. Keep the subject line fresh and keep it genuine.
Here’s an example of a boring email subject line:
“March E-Newsletter — Read More”
This subject line gives zero indication of what the content in the e-newsletter is about. It lacks liveliness and is a poor excuse for trying to get a customer to read more.
Now, here’s an example of a pushy subject line:
“Why haven’t you opened our emails?”
If you want to annoy your customers, you’ll be sure to do it with the subject line above! Pushy emails make your brand seem needy and desperate for business.
Finally, here is an example of an interesting and catchy subject line via TechCrunch:
“Google sees smartphone heroics in Oreo. It's The Daily Crunch.”
This subject line reflects the main story that is featured in the email. Readers fascinated with the subject line will know exactly what to expect when opening the email. Setting expectations leaves little room for customer dissatisfaction.
Take note, the messages in a subject line that resonate with one persona may not resonate with another. A great way to combat this discrepancy is through A/B testing subject lines. To understand how particular audiences engage, try different phrasing or sales offers to see what gets the most attention. Once you have your results, modify the wording to reflect the subject line that performed better. The results should also be able to tell you what types of phrases work best for your audience: long or short, questions or statements, serious or funny.
Including a question in your subject line draws the reader in and is likely to increase your open-rate. Asking a question you know is relevant to your recipients' buyer persona such as “Are you making these email marketing mistakes?” is sure to catch the attention of a digital marketer.
And remember, always write the subject line in a way that promises the reader the very thing you deliver on in the email itself.