Even if your company's email marketing campaigns have been sailing along smoothly for years, you've probably noticed things getting rocky lately. Between increasingly debilitating spam filters and automatic sorting of message types (a la Gmail), staying up-to-date on evolving best practices and getting the results you're used to isn't easy. But don't worry, that's what we're here for. Our digital strategy team at Audacity has identified three common reasons most email campaigns aren't working, plus key solutions to fix them.
1. You're not speaking their language.
In a recent article released by marketing automation experts Marketo, 77% of consumers said they prefer to receive marketing information via email. So why are your customers still ignoring you? It's simple: you're saying it wrong. Here's how to make your company's messaging matter:
Segment your list: Even if you have the most experienced, most talented group of creatives fine-tuning each email campaign, unless your team is sending the right message to the right audience, they're shouting in the wind. Instead of sending one generic message to the entire client list, the database should be segmented into logical categories based on job title and/or industry needs (researchers, lab directors, physicians, hospital administrators, patients, etc.). Then, when your company announces a groundbreaking new technology or you hire a key opinion leader, mailing the appropriate segments will ensure the exciting news is sent to customers who care.
Conduct A/B tests: Eliminate the guesswork. Everything from subject lines to design direction to delivery times can be evaluated and fine-tuned with proper testing. Email marketer Constant Contact encourages manually pretesting campaigns by taking a random sampling of 100 of your email addresses, dividing that in half and sending out a test email. For example, if you use email marketing clients like MailChimp to send out emails, you can access an even easier test methodology by utilizing a proprietary optimizer allowing you to select what part of an email to test. Regardless of how you do it, identifying a winning message/design/etc. will improve overall email campaign results. Honestly, there's no good reason not to test so we strongly encourage incorporating this technique regularly.
Avoid spam filters: The spam folder is the Siberia of email. Try these tips to improve email delivery.
- Authenticate your messages: This proves an email is a legitimate communication from a real company. The good news is viable email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact do this automatically. If you're not using a similar platform, your team can either create an identification file that lives on your server that a receiving email server can cross-reference, or an authentication code can be embedded in the email itself.
- Get added to a customers' address book: A manual add to a customer's approved email address list can go a long way. Don't be afraid to send a polite request to remind them how much they like your company and they don't want to miss any messages. This tactic also helps with Gmail's tabbed inbox structure, allowing customers to choose where your company's messages will land.
- Avoid spammy language: Stay away from excessive use of exclamation points, all caps, and overly salesy lingo like “Win"or “Free" or “Once in a lifetime opportunity!" Keep it simple and honest.
2. Your template isn't mobile-friendly.
Earlier this year Experian Marketing Services analyzed the email/mobile interactions of nearly 1,500 consumers and found that 50% of unique email opens occur on mobile devices. This in mind, it is imperative email templates are created with a mobile-first design approach, but one that allows for beautiful rendering across all platforms.
Unlike our advice in a previous article on essential web technologies, taking a mobile approach doesn't mean completely erasing the old formatting style. Our research has found that responsive design — the scalable format that allows emails or web pages to adapt to a viewer's screen size — is not widely supported by all email clients, including popular providers such as Gmail, Yahoo! and Outlook.
The following tactics will guarantee all emails look good and work well across multiple platforms:
- Use a single-column layout
- Avoid left-to-right scrolling
- Include a legible font that can be read on a large or small screen
- Place buttons high on the page and large enough to work on a touch screen
- Remember many email clients hide images by default, so messages should be clear when images are turned off
One other note on utilizing a responsive design direction, email providers MailChimp and Campaign Monitorrecommend developing templates that utilize responsive techniques but focus on a scalable approach as a “fallback" for email clients that do not recognize media queries. To get this right will require a significant amount of testing in various email clients by your team, but it will result in the most elegant presentation across all device platforms.
3. You're not following their trends.
There is a lot more to analyze than just open rates and click throughs — valuable statistics that can help assess successful email campaigns. While we're not affiliated with any of these companies, we encourage utilizing one of the most popular email delivery systems such as MailChimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor for delivering your emails. These companies are regularly researching best practices and updating their programs to help marketers make smarter campaign choices.
As stated earlier, testing is a great way to understand what customers respond to. But once an email campaign is complete, review data on everything from what time of day customers opened your emails, to how many times they opened it, to where they clicked on the page. Geographic information is also available to better analyze how messages are resonating nationally or internationally.
If your company's emails include promotions, you can discern which of your customers are wholesalers, or extract product preferences by analyzing their purchasing patterns. You can also evaluate what customers don't like, particularly through unsubscribe rates. The metrics available are the best way to get a read on your customers' pulse.
The time to change is now.
Whether you incorporate one or all of the suggestions outlined above, we strongly encourage regular review of your company's email plan. Identify what's working and what can be improved. Email is an easy way to track market trends and build lasting relationships with customers, so stay nimble and make calculated adjustments to your email marketing strategy to get the most out of this valuable touchpoint.