If email is currently part of your overall marketing strategy—congratulations—you’ve made a very wise choice. Despite newer, more shiny kinds of marketing tactics, email has continued to do what it’s always done: be one of the most reliable, efficient, and cost-effective marketing tools available.
When It Comes to Email, Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes
While email marketing is becoming a critical part of many B2B or B2C acquisition strategies, it’s easy to make mistakes. With that in mind, here are 7 common mistakes to avoid when developing your email marketing program:
1. Holding off on a Holistic Promotional Calendar
Email promotions or offers should mirror those on your website, in-store, and other marketing channels in order to create more synergy and avoid unhappy customers or frustrated employees. Imagine if a customer receives an email promotion, walks into a store to inquire about it, but the store employee doesn’t know about the offer or it’s not available in the store. Well, needless to say, you are going to have some pretty upset customers and confused employees on your hands. A holistic approach to promotions avoids this friction and creates a more seamless customer experience across channels. A holistic promotional calendar is a simple way to do this.
2. Ceasing to Segment Your Messages
Not all customers are the same. Simple things like their age, marital status, household income, and location could have a major impact on the products a customer is interested in and ultimately purchases. In more complex B2B businesses, customers will have different roles within their organization, as well as different pain points and levels of influence. Without taking this into account, you will have a much more difficult time finding a message that resonates with particular segments of your audience. By introducing segmentation into your email marketing approach, you’re increasing the likelihood of relevant, open rates, and ultimately conversion. Simple ways to include segmentation include:
Brand Engagement – Customers who have made a purchase within the last 90 days. Emailing these customers more frequently is more likely to turn into a conversion.
Past Purchase Behavior – Customers who make purchases fairly frequently and consistently have a high average order value (AOV). Emails to these customers may showcase higher-value items or groups of items.
Industry – Some companies sell their products or services to a variety of industries. For example, one technology-based product company that we work with sells its product to both healthcare companies and educational institutions. Our email marketing is vastly different to each of these industries.
3. Avoiding A/B Testing What Works for You
While best practices are helpful, you don’t want to rely solely on them to guide your email efforts. You should also A/B test various aspects of your program to see what works best for your business and most importantly, your audience. It may be common to rely on best practices when determining things like the cadence or frequency to send an email. However, this could vary a lot depending on your business and customers. For example, let’s say you’re selling expensive consumer goods, which are typically only purchased a few times during the course of someone’s life, and your primary audience is older with a higher income. On the other hand, perhaps you’re selling an inexpensive item that can be purchased multiple times a month, and your customer is a younger, less affluent audience. How will these factors affect your approach to email marketing? The only real way to know is to test it. A/B tests should inform email cadence, timing, and frequency, as well as more creative areas, such as subject lines, messages, visuals, and offers. By doing so, you’ll gain the learnings needed to increase your open, click, and conversion rates.
4. Going Cold on Warm-up Emails
After switching email service providers (ESPs), many companies will simply transfer their email list over to the new ESP. The problem with this approach is that the IP address that you are now sending from is different and unknown to your recipients. As a result, your emails may get flagged as spam and end up in people’s junk folders. To avoid this, we suggest starting slowly by sending emails only to your most engaged customers, and picking message types that have historically performed well. In doing so, the ESPs will “learn” that your emails are not spam, your new IP address is legitimate, and that you have an active audience who regularly opens and clicks through from your emails. Once the ESP is “warmed up,” you can begin to expand your email program to your full contact list again.
5. Forgoing A Third-Party Tool for Q/A Testing
Ironically, the most challenging part for email marketers is not developing the content of the email, but rather rendering images properly across devices, browsers, and ESPs. It highlights the importance of quality assurance testing (Q/A), especially if using HTML blocks, dynamic content blocks, table cells, or anything that is not part of the out-of-the-box template builder within your ESP. We recommend using a third-party tool, such as Litmus or Email on Acid, to test each email across the major ESPs and devices that your audience uses most frequently. By taking a proactive approach to quality assurance, your emails are guaranteed to be more effective.
6. Opting Out of an Opt-out Section
No marketer wants their email list to shrink. However, emailing customers who did not opt-in or making the “unsubscribe” process too difficult can have negative consequences on both your brand and business. Angry email recipients have been known to turn to social media to publicly vent, or even worse, turn to a competitor for future sales. Of course, we want your email lists to grow, but not if it means damaging your brand’s reputation or losing a customer. Having a clear, simple way for customers to opt-out of emails is a much better option than having them opt out of your brand all together.
7. Abstaining from Automation
While email campaigns are justifiably a critical part of any retailer’s acquisition strategy, automated emails have many benefits as well. In addition to making the process of nurturing customers and prospects more effective, automated emails also improve workflow efficiency, and allow you to deliver more personalized, tailored content to your target audience segments. Generally, email automations should include:
“Welcome” Series – 3-5 emails welcoming a new customer and incentivizing their first purchase. This series will play a big role in establishing the kind of relationships you will have with your customers.
Abandon Cart – 1-3 emails that urge visitors to complete their purchase, using a tone that injects a sense of urgency, such as “Did you forget something” or “Hurry back.”
Browse and Abandon – 1-3 emails that are meant to entice that visitor to revisit the site and continue their browsing.
Post-Purchase – 1-3 emails for anyone who recently purchased on a website or in-store. The messaging should encourage additional actions and brand engagement, such as buying related products, leaving a product review, or joining a loyalty program.
Win Back – 1-3 emails urging users with low engagement or open rates to either come back to the site or opt-out of receiving further emails. Ultimately, it’s better to have a smaller list of more engaged users than a bigger list of low-engaged users.
Every Marketer's Favorite Marketing Tool
When you consider its effectiveness and low cost, it’s little wonder why email consistently ranks as one of the top marketing tools. Provided you avoid committing any of the mistakes cited above, you’ll find that email will continue to be your marketing plan’s best friend and a distinct competitive advantage. So, treat it well.
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