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How to fail at email marketing (or not)

By Dave Bowers on 10/27/16 10:00 AM



You know email can be an effective marketing tool. Email marketing averages an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. (DMA National Client Email Report 2015) And you've heard auto-response and other marketing automation tools can make email marketing easier and increase success. Then again, you see a lot of lousy email messages in your inbox. Successful email campaigns require strategy and consistent planning. (Lousy email campaigns don't.) Let's look at the differences.

Five ways companies fail at email marketing

  1. Don’t send any. The first failure for many companies is not recognizing the value of email, and not putting sufficient resources into email nurturing and marketing. 80% of marketers use email, and 42% of businesses say email is one of their most effective lead generation channels.
  2. Sending too many. Almost as bad as not sending any email is sending too many. While there is no magic number of emails, keeping them relevant and timely is best. Grocery stores and convenience stores usually send weekly (hey, you shop or get gas almost every week), while the Red Cross sends an update every time I’m eligible to give blood again (about 9 weeks). Too many will cause recipients to ignore your emails or unsubscribe.
  3. Send the wrong email. Match your email to your audience. Be sure you are sending content in line with your audience’s desires. (Think dog toys to a cat owner.)
  4. No personalization. A lack of personalization reduces the likelihood of your email getting opened. Use your data to personalize messages. Personalized email subject lines increase open rates for consumer products and services companies by 41.8 percent. (MarketingSherpa)
  5. No call to action. Be sure your email requests an action by the reader. If you don’t have a call to action (like visit our store for a special or download a whitepaper), then don’t send that email. 

How to succeed at email Marketing

  • Plan a schedule of nurturing emails. Whether it’s an annual schedule of updates or nurturing emails for new inquires, plan a schedule to create and send emails. 55% of people prefer to communicate for business purposes via email. (State of Inbound 2016)
  • Use automation software. Automation software will save you lots of time and headaches. It should also allow your contacts to manage their email preferences and meet Federal CAN-SPAM requirements for business.
  • Optimize for mobile. 75% of people check their email accounts on mobile devices. (TechCrunch)
  • Segment your lists. Sending the appropriate message to the correct audience will improve conversion rates. Don’t just send everyone everything. Email list segmentation increases click-through rates by 5 percent. (Mailigen)
  • One last email to re-engage. Keep your lists current. If a contact has not opened an email in a while (four or five emails), try sending them a re-engagement email with a simple action to keep receiving emails.
    re-engagement email
  • Don’t forget to clean. Remove bad addresses and stop sending to people who haven’t opened email in a while. (see above)
  • What’s in it for me? Always, answer WIIFM for the recipient. Deliver useful content or value. You’re asking for a person’s time to read your email and perform an action.

Once you get your email marketing going, be sure to keep consistently refining your messages, lists, and content. You will always lose some contacts, but how you engage the rest and bring in new contacts is the difference between failure and your reward.

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Related links

How to clean up your email list & engage your subscribers

Email Marketing for Professional Service Firms 

5 Email Rules You Absolutely Have to Break 


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