Email & SMS

Experts Share 9 Email Marketing Mistakes You Can't Afford To Make

By Tinuiti Team

Despite the sheer number of marketing platforms available, email is still one of the most effective mediums out there today.

But just because email marketing has been around for a while, doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed. Just like the very consumers we’re trying to reach, email marketing has evolved over the years — and as such, so have email marketing best practices.

If we pare email down to its main function, it’s retention marketing – a way to keep people coming back. But businesses who get too comfortable with their strategy are likely to fail.  Why? Because email marketers must always be thinking ahead.

We spoke with 9 of the leading email experts at Elite SEM to find out exactly why some email marketing programs fail.

Let’s dive in.

Expert Roundtable: Why do email marketing programs fail?

1. Poor site traffic


When trying to build your email program, it’s imperative to have a healthy volume of good quality leads coming to your website so they can sign up to receive marketing emails (via forms, checkout flow, pop-ups, etc).

If traffic is light or the leads are low intent, list growth will be slow-going and it will be tough to see a return on investment from email marketing efforts. Investing in strategies to drive traffic to the site – SEO, paid search, paid social – can breathe new life into your list growth efforts, and drive incremental revenue from your email program over time.

– Mandi Moshay, Associate Director, CRM+Email


2. Lack of relevancy


Warning sign #1: you call your emails “blasts”.  If you’re sending the same content to the same audience in every email, you’re likely causing fatigue and showing your subscribers you don’t really care how they’re interacting with you. Targeted, relevant content based on subscriber behavior and preferences is the key to success in every email program.

Ensure you’re segmenting marketing emails based on previous purchase, engagement, or preferences for type of content and that your lifecycle strategies are buttoned up to provide the most relevant content at the each of the appropriate stages.

– Stacy Strom, Sr. Strategist, CRM+Email

3. Being overly promotional


If every email has a promotion as the main focus, you could be training subscribers not to buy outside of a promotion. You may also start to see longer-term fatigue in your metrics as subscribers won’t have a reason to look at your emails unless they want to use your coupon.

If you do have to push a lot of promotions, make sure to mix it up with content to keep subscribers interested, especially those that may have just purchased. Consider also suppressing out recent purchasers or serving them up different content outside of the promotions, like how to use your product, cross-sell, asking for a review, etc.

– Christine Watson, Director, CRM+Email

4. Mailing too often


Brands get addicted to email and want more more more so they send, resend, and blast everyone everything. Once quick revenue is prioritized over the long-term health of their list and program, it can be easy to spiral out of control.

While this can show gains in the beginning, the risk of deterioration via unsubscribes, spam complaints, and generally unhappy subscribers grows.

– Abby Siciliano, Sr. Strategist, CRM+Email

5. Refusing to let go of unengaged subscribers


Healthy email lists experience natural attrition, but it’s important to know when to let go of unengaged contacts. Push non-opening, non-converting contacts through a re-engagement series and if they don’t engage, it’s time to cut the cord.

Mailing to unengaged contacts regularly means opening yourself up to a spike of complaints and unsubs that can lead to deliverability issues. Focus your efforts on acquiring new contacts and those that are already interested.

– Kellie Collins, Sr. Strategist, CRM+ Email


6. Not testing enough


Testing is not optional. Email behavior has steadily changed, in line with the massive shift to mobile devices over the past few years and the overall growth of the medium in general.

A perfect email in a perfect world would be the culmination of learnings from dozens (or hundreds) of tests:  From name, time of day, subject line, preheader text, navigatub, layout, creative, content, calls-to-action, landing page, segments…the list goes on. And that’s just for a regular marketing send!

There are innumerable improvements you can make to workflows and other triggers by testing every element (trigger, logic, timing, touch points, offer etc).

– Amy Slater, Sr. Strategist, CRM+Email

7. Not investing in high-quality assets


Strong visual content is key to the development of great creative and can easily make or break your email program. Set your creative team up for success by spending the extra money up front on high-quality photography and assets.

The right set of photographs and typography choices will define your brand identity and provide strong brand awareness among your clientele. While it is still possible to implement creative solutions without, your creative will quickly become fatigued and repetitive.

– Whitney Mortimer, Associate Director, Creative Services

8. Underestimating the power of great copy


With so much of today’s communication being read-only, it should come as no surprise that accurately conveying your brand’s voice is as vital to the success of your email program as great design.

Investing in copywriting talent not only helps to properly align your brand’s tone of voice with your marketing objectives, it also provides you the opportunity to receive professional help with creative ideation, campaign concepts, and product stories that will catch your consumers’ eyes and leave a lasting impression.

Without a consistent, clear-cut execution of your brand’s voice, email communications can become diluted and your brand forgettable or misunderstood in the eyes of your audience.

– Lindsey Newman Segura, Senior Manager, Creative Services

9. Failing to take the long view of your email program


Often decisions are made in the vacuum of “impact today” and the “impacts of tomorrow” aren’t considered.

Every decision will have an effect down the road” Increasing cadence today will negatively impact your ability to comp the next; adding more promotions or coupons to hit this week’s sales target will have an impact on next week, next month, or next year; setting unreasonable growth expectations for this year will likely drive to decisions that will affect next year or the year after.

Building sustainable strategies and making sustainable decisions will give your program the foundation to be successful not only this year, but also for years to come.

– Eric Miller, Associate Director, CRM+Email

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