Email marketing remains one of the most popular, most successful forms of content marketing practised by businesses selling B2C and B2B.
That’s despite all the doom mongers out there who claim email has had its day, who say customers don’t like receiving emails anymore, who claim social media followers have taken over email lists as the most important thing a marketer can earn.
Well, some email marketing campaigns might support those statements.
There are some truly awful emails being sent to customers today.
Incredibly poorly executed email marketing campaigns that leave marketers crying at the number of junk folders they’re now lying in.
But, if you get it right, email can still earn you money and bring in a better ROI than Facebook or LinkedIn ever could.
So why do email marketing campaigns fall flat?
Here’s a few reasons.
Not understanding your audience
The biggest in any marketing, is not understanding the people you’re talking to.
Especially with email marketing – because not knowing who you’re sending emails to will get you a full unsubscribe list.
You have tonnes of information on the people you have in your email list.
And you need to take the time to figure out who they, what they like, what their problems are, what information they need, and give it to them.
Segmenting your email list is a key to this.
You might have 1,000 on your email list. But they may have all come from different places.
If you’re bigger business, they have come to you through different departmental content.
Not all your customers have the same needs.
Use the information you got during your buyer persona workshops, and segment your email list based on those buyer personas.
Now you can instantly start to send more targeted, relevant emails to your customers and convince them to engage with you.
You’re not being personal
People don’t want relationships with brands. That’s something people in marketing tell themselves to make themselves feel better.
But you can create connections with your audience when your brand personality comes through, and you show them that you understand their problems, concerns and needs.
Not a major reason email campaigns fail, is because brands aren’t personal in their connections.
We all love personalised emails – even if we say we don’t.
An email from a brand with our name on it, creates a bigger connection with that brand with an email that says “dear customer”.
Six, time, higher.
And yet 70% of brands still don’t use personalised emails.
If you’ve gone to the trouble of segmenting your lists and creating targeted emails, there really is no excuse for letting the campaign fall at the first hurdle because you haven’t personalised the email.
Personalisation doesn’t just have to include your customer’s name in the email, although it does help and there are loads of email tools that let you do it.
The subject line is boring or not relevant
This is where it helps to think a bit like a journalist when it comes to your emails.
Remember, the first thing your customer is going to see is the subject line of your email.
If it’s boring, not relevant and not of interest you’ve got no chance.
So treat the subject like a headline.
What’s the thing that is going to make your customer stop scrolling and take notice?
Your subject line needs to be clear, and it needs to give the reader an excuse to open it.
Using humour can be a good way to get your users to engage with your emails, but you need to make they get the humour and it fits in with the rest of your brand.
Your email list is out of date
This is a particular problem with businesses that used to collect emails pretty regularly, or still does, but hasn’t used their list for a while.
Email lists decay naturally at a rate of 22.5% a year in B2B.
In B2C it’s a slower rate but you still get natural decay in emails as people stop using them, move to a different email provider etc.
If you haven’t kept your list up to date, the reason you have low engagement, could be that a lot of your list isn’t using the email you have on file anymore.
A good practice is to run an analysis of your list every year, you could even try and purge your list of emails which consistently don’t engage with your content, so you can at least have a more engaged and targeted list.
Even an email saying “we’ve noticed you haven’t engaged with our last three emails, do you want us to remove you from our list” could be enough.
Your email design is terrible
Have you ever received an email and it looked like a jigsaw you hadn’t put together yet.
There were text and image boxes scattered around, headings and bold numbers everywhere, and you just didn’t know where to look?
I have. Or did, I unsubscribed from them.
The best emails or simple.
Everyone gets carried away with designing emails that have motion, graphics and all kinds of things.
Often, a simple plain text email get the best results, especially if it’s something like an email newsletter.
If you’re sending emails with offers for products, you can get away with including product images, but on the whole, the simpler the better for emails.
Most emails are now opened on a smartphone or tablet, so the space you have to work with is at a premium.
Give your reader the offer, provide them the information you want them to have, and give them a button CTA to click to get on your website.
Once they’re there, then you can start to dazzle them with your media.
You don’t measure your results
Is there a best time to send an email?
Is there a best number of emails to send in a week?
What kind of subject lines work best?
What designs got the best engagement from your email?
Can you answer these questions?
You should be able to, but many can’t because they just don’t analyse the results from their email campaigns.
You should, like all your marketing, be reviewing the open rates of your emails on a regular basis and having a full analysis of them every month to see which messages are working, which types of emails are bringing in the most traffic, and which emails are leading to the highest rates of conversion.
If you’re not monitoring the results of your emails, you’ll never know if they’re doing what you need them to do, and you’ll never know how to make them better.
Be personal, be targeted, be useful
Those are essentially the three things you need to do to be better at email marketing.
Target different emails based on your segmented list and based on the needs and requirements of the people in that list.
Be personal. Talk to the one, not the many. If your reader gets through your email and feels like you’ve been speaking directly to them, you’ll have a much better engagement rate than if you just send blanket emails out.
Be useful. Your email list is a precious thing and the people who’ve signed up are expecting you to give them information, or tell them about products that they actually care about.
It’s not an excuse to blanket sell everyone.
The best thing you can is keep providing useful information to your email lists and then, when they’re ready to buy from you, you’ll find they’re more likely to.