Email marketing seems easy enough, right? Perhaps sending a bunch of emails to a bunch of people will work and you can sit back and watch the magic happen.
Unfortunately, it doesn't. Email marketing is an effective way to market for great returns, but it does come with its own set of unique challenges.
These challenges can be overcome easily if you understand your audience and take the necessary steps to fix the challenges you face with analysis, testing, and other methods.
How Email Marketing Still Drives Results
It still remains one of the best ways to connect with consumers to provide you with an excellent return on investment (ROI). Here are a few more benefits of email marketing:
It Influences People's 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 Traffic to Your Website.
In your email content, make sure you add links to other content on your site and include CTAs that drive recipients to a specific landing page.
This helps you gain more traffic to your site. Visually appealing and interesting information usually warrants click-throughs from your targeted audience.
Even if they don't purchase anything the first time, they are more likely to recognize your brand in the future. The more emails you send them through drip campaigns, the more likely they will be to purchase in the future.
When you use email marketing tools to track things like click-through-rate and opens, you can identify the highest performing content. This way, you can create a great email marketing strategy that drives even more results.
It's Low Cost While Yielding a High Return.
Who doesn't want to save money while driving revenue? Email marketing gets you the marketing results you want without taking up too much of your time and eating through your budget.
With email marketing, you don't need to pay for pricey photo or video shoots, location fees, placement, or mailing. All you need is a copywriter and a graphic designer or access to stock photos. To streamline your emailing process, you should take advantage of email marketing tools.
Because of the low cost of email marketing, you have a chance to create an excellent ROI percentage. For instance, HubSpot recently conducted a survey, and 59 percent of marketers mentioned that email marketing is their top performing channel with the best ROI.
It Increases Leads.
Along with improving sales and receiving a generous return on investment with email marketing, you can also increase leads by applying inbound marketing methods. These methods help you to nurture leads to improve conversions.
Email marketing can even help you qualify leads so your sales team members aren't wasting time on poor leads.
If you want to take advantage of email marketing to reap all the great benefits it has, you must overcome some of the common challenges associated with email marketing.
Top 10 Email Marketing Challenges
Here are the top 10 email marketing challenges you may face with tips on how you can overcome them.
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 message that will draw more customers to their company. Integrating data from various sources allows marketers to optimize the content of their emails to create better sales leads and provide customers a positive buying experience.
There are several steps to properly integrating your data systems, including:
Acquire Useful Data-Integration Tools.
Having the right data integration tool can allow you to easily collect and collate your results data from your email marketing, blog posts, lead management efforts, and more.
These tools give you a clear, understandable report to base your future marketing decisions on.
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.
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 make new content to addresses that need, which will lead to more sales success with those customers in the future.
2. Improving Deliverability
The issue of deliverability is a matter of acquiring and maintaining accurate information for contacts.
Basically, your deliverability rate is the ratio 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, not every message that is sent will make it into an inbox.
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.
- Hard bounces: These result from a more permanent error, such as the email in question not existing.
Bounces are a problem for two reasons. One, internet service providers may block you if you have an especially low deliverability rate. Two, 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 or click 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 the email list.
Rethink Your Email Opt-In Process.
Try adding an extra step or two 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 missed a digit in their 26+ character long 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 are getting.
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 self-report their preferences for email communication, such as the frequency and content of their emails. This allows you to give them content that is more meaningful to them as frequently as they want.
Another benefit is that this can help with the next challenge.
3. Growing and Retaining Subscribers
This can be a tricky process for many email marketers, which would explain why it is in the list of top 10 email marketing challenges.
While pruning inactive subscribers to lower your undeliverable email rate is a good thing, it is also important to add and retain as many active subscribers as possible in order to make sure your marketing is reaching enough people to generate business.
To this end, many marketers go to the extreme of buying email lists and using those to send unsolicited messages (also called "spam") to people who may have no interest in the products that their company offers.
This is a problematic practice at the best of times, and a viciously self-destructive one at the worst of times. Even if the emails that you purchase are viable, it is unlikely that these random people will engage with your company's marketing message, causing them to unsubscribe or list your emails as spam.
Instead, a better strategy is to use good inbound marketing practices to earn your email subscribers rather than buying them.
There are a few things that you can do to earn subscribers, such as:
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 that they cannot get elsewhere.
If the customer does not have a reason to open your emails, then your emails will be ignored.
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, learn what 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.
4. Achieving Measurable ROI
This particular challenge can actually be closely related to the first challenge on this list. Knowing your ROI for your marketing efforts depends on your ability to collect and collate all of your data from your email marketing.
If you do not know how your email marketing efforts are influencing your sales process, how many website visits they generate, and how many sales occur as a result, you'll never know just how worthwhile your email marketing efforts are.
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 the point where they first visit your site and become a contact, through all of their interactions with your website and email marketing, to their final conversion into a customer.
It's important your marketing and sales team are aligned with their goals as well. You can get everyone on the same page by creating a service level agreement (SLA), which is a document that describes proper lead qualifications.
A strong closed-loop marketing system will not only help you track your ROI from email marketing, but it will also give you a sense of the ROI from all of your other marketing efforts, such as your blogs, website optimization, and even social media marketing.
This can even help you with your efforts to integrate your email data with your other marketing data systems.
5. 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, there are better practices for using email to optimize a sales funnel.
For example, you can set up a system of lead nurturing emails to automate the process of qualifying a new sales lead. Instead of having to wait for a contact from a representative, your new sales lead can be engaged right away with an email that will create an opportunity for them to give your company more information.
This customer information should be used to identify their place in your marketing segmentation. Such automation reduces the time a new lead has to wait for contact, which improves your close rate for deals.
6. Leveraging Personalization Effectively
Many marketers think that personalization isn't needed for the emails sent to their customers' inboxes. They send brand appropriate generic emails to everyone on their send list, which causes them to miss out on creating a real relationship between them and their target audience.
Beyond creating a relationship with your audience, personalizing emails can help you to increase your open rate by about 26 percent.
You can personalize your emails by:
- Adding your recipient's name to the subject line.
- Sending them an email or special discount on their birthday.
- Making recommendations based on past engagement.
We mentioned segmentation earlier on in this list, but segmentation can help you to personalize your emails to appeal to each customer. This can increase loyalty and will help you to maintain your subscribers.
7. Reducing Spam Complaints
Loading your customers' inboxes with content that is not relevant to them is the quickest way for your unsubscribe rates to increase. Even if the content is relevant, they may not want to be spammed by your emails.
Consumers like to know what to expect by choosing the subscription options they want. Check your subscription process to see if people can select what they will receive from you and how often they will receive it.
Also, try to change your email marketing messaging voice from pushy salesperson to helpful friend who just wants to help out. This appears less spammy even if they do sign up to get emails from you three times a day.
8. 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, test out different subject lines and preview text. 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 and less corporate.
9. Improving Click-Through Rates
The links in your email aren't getting enough clicks. This means the emails aren't helping you reach your goals because your audience isn't actually going to your website.
You at least got them to open the email, but now you must tackle the challenge of getting them to check out your products or services.
The best way to do this is to assess your call to action (CTA) buttons. Do you have too many CTAs? Are your CTAs easy to spot? Does clicking your logo in the email take people to your homepage?
Make sure you let your audience know what they should do with this email. You must guide them, rather than letting them guide themselves to your website.
10. Achieving Mobile Optimization
Most people access email messages from their mobile devices. This means 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.
- Leave clicking room.
- Keep CTAs in the front.
- 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 fast.