Is email dying? Just a few years ago, many tech experts thought so. It wasn’t hard to find predictions that email would soon be obsolete before the end of the decade.
For the past five years, however, email use has steadily increased worldwide with 320 billion emails sent in 2021. And there is no sign of it slowing down. Research suggests that the number will grow to 376 billion by 2025.
But what about for business? Is using email an effective tactic in your overall marketing strategy? According to Forbes, email is still the most powerful tool to take your business to the next level.
The issue isn’t whether or not to do email marketing. You’re going to do it. You must do it. The real issue is how. And that’s why you’re reading this article. You want to maximize the return on your investment for email and that means eliminating some glaring mistakes is vital.
This guide will discuss some of the most common email marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them to make email great again for your business.
1. Underestimating the Importance of Segmenting Your Audience
Not everyone on your list has the same interests or is in the same demographic. Segmenting your email subscribers allows you to send them only the content that’s most relevant to them.
Trying to create content that is relevant to everyone actually produces generic content that doesn’t add value to most of your readers. And that leaves you with mediocre results.
So prioritize segmenting to get the biggest bang for your email list buck.
You can do this easily in whatever email marketing platform you use. You’ll just create a targeted list based on their demographics, interests, where they are in the buying process, behavior, what device they’re using, or any number of other variables that may be particular to your particular audience.
You can combine these elements to create a very specific niche to offer the best content possible. For example, you may send an email in the fall to coffee house owners (demographics) who buy pumpkin spice flavoring from you on a regular basis (behavior).
The best way to do this is by creating opt-ins based on the blog post it is being included in. For example, each night includes an opt-in form related to sleep tips within their best mattresses post.
Odds are readers are going to find this post relevant since they are already interested in reading about mattresses to get the best sleep possible.
2. Failing to Create Multiple Opt-ins
Multiple opt-in (also known as “double opt-in”) means you collect an email address through a signup form and then send a confirmation email to validate the initial signup. This weeds out fake emails and people who aren’t interested in being on your list.
Some argue this creates an unnecessary barrier at the beginning of the signup process. We think it means you’ll get more qualified users who really want what you offer.
This will be a simple setting in your email platform you can change at any time.
Where you put your initial sign-up form on your website or other communication is also important, so think through the placement. You can put it at the end of blog articles, on your email signature, or, if you sell products online, at checkout.
The only time you might not want to put in a multiple opt-in is if you own a high-value service-based business. In this case, you might be offering a free consultation to visitors via an opt-in form.
It would be better to include multiple entry fields (such as zip code, phone number, and area of interest) to weed out potential spammers.
This is because you want to make it as easy as possible for new businesses to reach you. Anderson Injury Lawyers does this well on their homepage:
3. Leaving No Way for Subscribers to Engage with the Emails
Just like with any other type of communication, emails should never be a one-way conversation–even when used as a marketing tactic. Emails ought to be the beginning of a connection point between you and your audience.
To increase engagement, ask good questions and encourage them to get in touch with you or fill out a survey. Never, ever send an email from a “do not reply” account. Nothing will frustrate an engaged reader more than that! They want to get in touch. So make it easy for them.
Finally, keep in mind that you will likely get more regular interaction from your subscribers if they follow you on social media. Be sure to include your social links in the header or footer of your email template.
4. Sending Too Much Promotional Content
The majority of your emails shouldn’t promote something, but rather engage with your audience and provide them with value.
The average person receives between 100-120 emails per day! Still, it’s not unheard of for companies to send two or three emails per week to a subscriber. That’s overwhelming and why so many users unsubscribe–even from a list they signed up for.
Resist the urge to keep sending emails that don’t add value. Keep it to one a week or two a month. (Remember that you have social media to communicate on a daily basis!) If you are in an industry that has a lot of time-sensitive content (real estate, for example), you may get away with sending out emails more often.
The best option? Create a system where subscribers can choose their email frequency preference.
5. Turning an Email into a Novel
The overwhelming majority of people don’t want to take even five minutes to read your emails. The good news is that you can still keep your emails engaging while being short, simple, and to the point.
What’s the best length for a newsletter? The answer might surprise you. Just 20 lines of text or about 200 words is the max length for an email campaign. The average adult can read and process that in under one minute. If you can go shorter than that, even better.
Communicating with that kind of brevity means you can’t mess around. You need to know exactly what to say and then say it succinctly. Your customers will thank you and be more likely to read that next email. This short email from Starbucks is a fantastic example of getting to the point quickly and making their CTA very clear (more on that in a bit).
6. Ignoring Email Marketing KPIs
It’s tempting to send out your email campaign and then forget it. But after you hit send, the important work begins analysis. You won’t ever improve your email marketing skills–or your campaigns–without paying attention to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The five most important KPIs to track are:
- Open rate. This tells you the percentage of subscribers who opened your email. The average open rate is about 21%. A good subject line, segmenting your list, and perfecting your timing will help you increase your open rate.
- Click-through rate. The CTR measures the number of users who click a link or image in your email. Your goal here is to average around 3%. This shows that people are reading and taking an interest in your content. It is a good way of seeing if your content.
- Conversion rate. This is the percentage of subscribers who complete your desired action after reading your email. It may be clicking the CTA button. A good conversion rate is anywhere between 1.3-1.5%.
- Unsubscribe rate. This is obviously the percentage of subscribers who opt out of your list. Sometimes it’s actually beneficial for your readers to unsubscribe, so make sure you create a simple unsubscribing process for them they can access from the email.
- Open time. This is a necessary but overlooked KPI. Since so many emails are read on smartphones, consider the short windows of time people in your industry may be checking their phones. Pay attention to the analytics to find that sweet spot.
Depending on the type of business you run, you also need to make sure you are using the right email marketing service for your company. For example, Klaviyo is an email marketing service that is catered directly to companies that have DTC (Direct To Consumer) products and are eCommerce related. They actually heavily focus on being able to integrate with eCommerce platforms easily.
This might be perfect for someone who owns an eCommerce company but for a blogger or a SaaS business looking at Klaviyo alternatives would be what makes the most sense.
7. Writing Pointless and Boring Subject Lines
Your subject lines have an incredible effect on open rates. Subject lines using up to 50 characters result in 12% higher open rates and 75% higher clickthrough rates. More than that, crafting simple, professional, and enticing subject lines catch the eye and make people want to find out what’s inside.
Personalize subject lines when you can, avoid all caps, and never use more than three emojis. You should also be aware that there are hundreds of trigger words that send many well-meaning emails to the junk folder. Some include “buy,” “order,” “affordable,” and many others you wouldn’t expect. Avoid these like the plague.
8. Not Including a Call-to-Action (CTA)
Every time you send an email, there should be some CTA so your customers take action in your favor. If there’s no CTA, your readers may wonder why you sent an email in the first place. Your CTA makes clear what you want the reader to do.
Your CTAs may range from “read more” to “buy now” or from “get this free demo” to “download this e-book.” Whatever it is, place the CTA button in the most logical place in the progression of our email and be sure it stands outs out (use a contrasting color, font should be simple and readable, etc.).
It’s clear what 1-800-Contacts wants from you. In fact, for the most part, this email is oriented around the CTA–from color, placement, and even emotion (“I am about to embark on the adventure of finding MY contacts!”).
If you want to learn more about optimizing your CTAs and converting more readers, you could also consider taking a digital marketing course.
9. Optimizing Emails Only for Desktop, and Not Mobile
If your email is only optimized for a desktop computer, you will frustrate a good portion of your audience. There are almost 800 million more mobile email users than desktop users.
Because most of your subscribers are reading on their smartphones, you want your content to be optimized (i.e. formatted for mobile screens) so your email is a pleasure, not a pain, to read.
If you don’t optimize, don’t be surprised if you start to see high unsubscription rates.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it. Nine big email marketing mistakes to avoid this year. You may already not be doing these things. Good! If you are, these are all issues you can easily fix today. Put these nine tips into practice and, over time, the subscribers on your list will become more intrigued and engaged and, most importantly, loyal customers.