Email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective ways to reach your target audience. In fact, the ROI on these types of campaigns is 4,200 percent. It’s also one of the most popular ways for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) grow their business.
However, sending out the right message requires a lot of strategizing. You also have to take into account some of the most common challenges email marketers face on a daily basis — such as low open or clickthrough rates.
How Email Marketing Still Drives Results
Email marketing is still very much relevant and effective for several reasons, including:
It Influences Purchasing Decisions
Email marketing drives results by improving sales. Your email content can actually influence how customers decide to buy a product or service.
In fact, HubSpot recently conducted a survey and found that 59 percent of respondents reported that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions. This is because email marketing campaigns can introduce products and services, deliver unique offers, and encourage customers to go back to your site to purchase something they left in the cart.
It Generates Website Traffic
Every time you send out a marketing email, make sure to add links to other content on your website, and include calls to action (CTAs) that incentivize readers to visit a specific landing page. This helps you gain more traffic to your site.
You also want to make sure that each email is visually appealing and provides interesting information. This will yield higher click-throughs from your targeted audience.
Even if they don't purchase anything the first time, they will be more likely to recognize your brand in the future — especially if you remain consistent with your branding (logos, colors, and tone). The more emails you send them through drip campaigns, the more likely they will be to keep you top of mind and purchase from you in the future.
It’s Cost Effective and Yields a High Return
Email marketing gets you the marketing results you want without taking up too much of your time and eating through your budget. You don't need to pay for pricey photo or video shoots, location fees, placement, or mailing. All you need is a good copywriter and a graphic designer or access to stock photos.
To streamline your emailing process, you should take advantage of email marketing tools, especially those provided in all-in-one platforms, like HubSpot, which already comes with templates and drag-and-drop capabilities that make it a lot easier to design your emails. Bonus points for features that allow you to segment your contacts and automatically sends them relevant content.
And thanks to the low cost of email marketing, you have a chance to create an excellent ROI percentage. For instance, in a HubSpot survey, 59 percent of marketers mentioned that email marketing is their top performing channel with the best ROI.
It Increases Leads
Email marketing enables you to increase leads by applying inbound marketing methods, such as lead nurturing. It can even help you qualify leads so your sales team members aren't wasting time on individuals who aren’t likely to ever make a purchase from you.
The 15 Top Challenges + the Best Email Marketing Tips to Overcome Them
First things first, however. If you want to take advantage of email marketing benefits, you must figure out a way to overcome some of the common challenges.
1. Integrating Email Data With Other Data Systems
Every marketer wants access to as much data as they can possibly get in order to create the best marketing strategies. This is why integrating data from various sources allows them to optimize their email content. As a result, they provide more value to their target audience, and increase the likelihood of turning them into customers.
There are several steps to to this:
Acquire Useful Data-Integration Tools
Having the right data integration tools allows you to easily collect and collate your results data from your email marketing, blog posts, and lead management efforts — better positioning you to make data-driven decisions.
Experiment With Segmentation
Compiling all of your marketing databases allows you to identify different consumer segments so that you can create content that specifically speaks to them. For example, you want to send first-time blog subscribers different types of marketing emails than to repeat customers.
Creating buyer personas to address each of your customer segments can help you create the ideal marketing message for each person, making them feel understood.
Develop Impactful Content
The goal of compiling all of your marketing results data is to create better content.
Once you know what it is that your customers are actually looking for, you can draft messages that address their specific needs. This will keep them opening future emails and clicking through to your website.
2. Improving Deliverability
The issue of deliverability is a matter of acquiring and maintaining accurate information for contacts.
Your deliverability rate is the number of the emails you have sent versus how many messages that actually make it into the inboxes of your intended recipients. While one might assume that any email that is sent will make it into the recipient's inbox, this is not always the case.
When an email fails to go to an inbox, this event is called a bounce. There are two kinds of bounces:
- Soft bounces: These are temporary and usually the result of a full inbox or a server that’s currently out of service.
- Hard bounces: These result from a more permanent error, such as the email in question not existing (often due to typos or deactivated accounts).
Bounces are a problem for two reasons. Internet service providers may block you if you have a low deliverability rate. Also, a very low deliverability rate represents wasted time, money, and effort trying to reach nonexistent contacts.
The solution to this challenge? Adopting these great email hygiene tips:
Update and Maintain Your Email List Regularly.
Are there contacts in your email list who never open your emails or engage your website? You should have metrics for such information in your marketing software. If a contact has been inactive for a long time, remove that contact from your email list.
Redesign Your Email Opt-In Process.
Consider adding an extra step to your email opt-in process, such as entering email information twice, using an emailed confirmation, or both. This helps to eliminate the honest mistakes that can happen with any form of data entry.
Sometimes, a customer is not intentionally giving your company the wrong data, but just mistyped their email address.
Give Contacts the Ability to Update Their Information.
From time to time, a customer might have to change their email address. Either they lose access to an old work email, or they just need to switch addresses to reduce the amount of spam they receive.
Whatever the case, if you make it easy for them to keep their contact info up to date, they are much more likely to self-report an address change.
Also, consider asking them to indicate their preferences for email communications — such as the frequency and content of their emails. This allows you to send them information that’s more meaningful to them, and as frequently as they want.
3. Growing Your Email List
This can be a tricky process for many email marketers.
While pruning inactive subscribers to lower your undeliverable email rate is a good practice, it’s also important to add and retain as many active subscribers as possible.
To this end, many marketers resort to buying email lists and sending unsolicited messages.
This is problematic, because you end up sending messages to people who are uninterested in what you have to offer. And since they didn’t sign up to receive communications from you, they will likely unsubscribe or report you as spam.
A better strategy is to use good inbound marketing practices to gain email subscribers. There are a few ways to do this effectively, including:
Provide a Clear Value Proposition When They Opt In.
When a customer asks, "Why should I subscribe to your email?," you should have a clear answer. What is it that they will get out of being in your email list?
Create a value proposition that answers the concerns of your key buyer personas — whether it is tips and advice for common issues in your industry, meaningful product updates, or even special offers they cannot get elsewhere.
Align Email Content With Your Buyer Personas.
Create emails that give customers a message that addresses their pain points.
Segmenting your email lists based on the information you have about them — such as where they are in the sales funnel and what their interests are — can help you create a targeted message that appeals to them.
Test, Optimize, and Repeat.
Optimizing content to earn subscribers is an ongoing process. Check your metrics regularly. Learn which messages are working and which ones are counter-productive, and constantly evolve and refine your process to make it better and respond to new trends. And if you’re unsure of what would work best, try A/B testing.
4. Improving Personalization Strategies
Improving your personalization will set the stage to develop deeper relationships with your prospects. You don’t just want to know their name and contact information. You want to know exactly what their pain points are. What are their hesitations. What incentivizes them to remain engaged with a business.
Doing this will make them feel understood and can significantly shorten the sales cycle.
5. Retaining Subscribers
Marketing emails can help you retain subscribers if you do it right. By providing personalized content, you keep them interested. By offering interactive content, they remain engaged. And by sending them re-engagement emails when they haven’t reacted to anything in a while, you remind them that you’re alive, willing, and able to improve their lives (or giving them whatever it is they need).
6. Increasing Customer Acquisition
Following the point above, retaining subscribers will eventually lead to increasing your number of customers. Think about it for a minute. Whenever you need to make a purchase, you do research. And if it’s a large purchase, it’s pretty extensive. So they’re going to keep entering queries on search engines, watching videos, and anything else that may help them reach a well-informed decision. And if you’re regularly sending them emails that answer a lot of their questions and provide educational information, they will be more likely to choose you over competitors.
This is precisely why it’s essential to tailor your content to who the recipient is.
7. Increasing Brand Awareness
Brand awareness refers to when your target audience immediately recognizes anything relating to your company. This can include seeing the actual product, associating your brand colors with your business, knowing your jingle song, and/or thinking about what you have to offer as soon as they or someone they know needs it.
The best way to increase brand awareness through email marketing is to be consistent in everything you do — the frequency at which you send messages, their format, their colors, their tone of voice. For example, newsletter subscribers should know where to go to look for specific information. Also, if you’re typically humorous, sarcastic, or scholarly, keep the same voice across all messages. Changing it will only confuse people or make you seem inauthentic.
8. Achieving a Measurable ROI
To track the progress of each email marketing campaign, you’ll want to know specific metrics, such as how many website visitors they generate, how many people are reaching out for additional information, and how many are eventually making purchases.
If you want to verify what your ROI is from your email marketing, you will need to set up a closed-loop marketing system. This means having a system in place to track a contact from their first touchpoint with your business, through all of their interactions with your website and email marketing, to their final conversion into a customer.
9. Using Email for Funnel Optimization
Using email is only one part of a larger strategy for optimizing your sales funnel. However, it is still a key piece of your overall sales strategy.
While some marketers might only send one email blast and leave their email marketing at that, you can set up lead nurturing emails to automate the process of qualifying a new sales lead. This includes sending them valuable free content that alleviates some of their pain points. You can also include checklists, tutorials, guides, and anything else that will help them with their day-to-day. This keeps them engaged and keeps you top of mind for them when they’re ready to make a purchase.
10. Leveraging Personalization Effectively
Generic messages will never help you establish relationships with your leads. Treat them like cookie-cutter, fungible goods, and they will see your marketing emails the same way in the sea of other messages in their inbox.
To be more effective, personalize messages as much as possible. Address them by their name, and tailor content to their preferences. Send them information that’s relevant to them based on where they are on their buyer’s journey. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated and don’t waste their time.
Beyond creating a relationship with your audience, personalizing emails can help you to increase your open rate by about 26 percent.
11. Reducing Spam Complaints
Do you like to be annoyed? Neither do your prospects. The best way to avoid being reported as spam is to exclusively send them content that’s relevant to them. And even then, do so regularly; not constantly. Once or twice a week should be enough.
Also, provide them with options to modify the frequency at which they receive emails, or the type of content they want to receive (promotions, newsletters, or only information pertaining to purchases). And as required by the CAN-SPAM Act, provide them with an unsubscribe option at the end of each email.
12. Figuring Out the Perfect Timing to Send Them
Email marketing service provider Moosend conducted a study in which it was determined that Thursdays have the highest open rate, followed closely by Tuesdays — with mornings being the optimal time to send them. On the other hand, anything sent during weekends or after 6:00PM tend to be ignored. People need off time. Take that into account to maximize your email marketing efforts.
Now, keep in mind that this is not set in stone. Other factors to consider are whether you're B2B, B2C, your industry, and buyer personas.
13. Increasing Open Rates
Low open rates can be caused by a number of things, but most often it has to do with your subject line, preview text, and sender name.
If the subject line and preview text isn't interesting or relevant to your consumers, they aren't going to open your email.
To fix this, limit subject lines to 60 characters, keep the preview text short, and do A/B testing to see what they prefer. Send half of your email list one email with your standard subject line. Send the other half an email with a creative or interesting subject line. See how many open rates you get from each portion, and then tailor your methods accordingly.
You may also test different "from" names. A good option is to use a persona for your company or attach the president's name to each email. For instance, Trello uses Taco, the Trello dog as a persona. Each time they send emails, it says the sender is Taco from Trello. This can have a big impact because it seems more personalized and fun.
14. Improving Click Through Rates (CTR)
Your clickthrough rate is the number of people who are clicking on the CTA buttons in your marketing emails. If your CTR rate is low, it’s time to take a closer look at your calls to action. Do you have too many of them? Are they easy to spot? Does clicking your logo in the email take people to your homepage?
Make sure they are appealing and include action-oriented words, such as Enroll in Webinar, Download eBook, Request a Demo, and similar language. Readers should know exactly what will happen when they click on the buttons.
15. Achieving Mobile Optimization
Most people access email messages from their mobile devices. This means that for your email marketing to be successful, you must optimize your emails for mobile devices.
Your audience should be able to see every image in the email with proper text formatting and functioning links.
Here are some tips to make your emails mobile friendly:
- Watch your subject line length.
- Keep your copy short and sweet.
- Keep CTAs visible from the beginning and end of emails.
- Use pre-header text.
- Test your emails across multiple devices.
Executing effective email marketing campaigns relies heavily on your ability to collect reliable data about your customers, their buyer's journey, and your sales process.
The more you know about your target audience, the better equipped you are to increase the quality of your leads, shorten your sales cycle, and gain new customers.
Alejandra Zilak is a content writer, ghostwriter, blogger, and editor. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor. She's licensed to practice law in four jurisdictions and worked as an attorney for almost a decade before switching careers to write full time. She loves being part of the Bluleadz team and implementing SEO best practices with her content. When not working, she loves to read, write fiction, and long distance running.