Email marketing mistakes leading to low ROI

Email marketing is the most cost-effective way of building a better relationship with your prospects and customers. It has proven its worth over time by providing the highest ROI among all the marketing methods.

The email practices and user preferences keep changing with time, which demands constant innovation and adaptation from a marketer. Failure to adapt to these changes can lead to numerous mistakes bringing irrevocable damage to your campaigns.

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    Unfortunately, many businesses are unaware of such mistakes so we are going to discuss the most common email marketing mistakes and what you can do to fix them. These are the biggest email marketing mistakes that people make:

    • Using Outdated Email Lists
    • Using Purchased Email Lists
    • Sending Inconsistent Emails
    • Not Segmenting Your Email List
    • Non Personalized Emails
    • Irrelevant or No Value Emails
    • Lengthy Messages
    • Unclear CTAs
    • Not Asking for the Sale

    Read on to understand how mastering the above pitfalls is the best way to solving your email marketing issues!

    Using Outdated Email Lists

    Email Service Providers have pre-decided criteria for ascertaining the mailing list quality. They have a pre-decided limit on the acceptable bounce rate and spam complaints.

    When you keep using the same email list for a long time without updating it regularly, the list loses its credibility and is considered outdated. It might get filled with dozens of emails that are no longer existing, invalid, or have unsubscribed to you.

    As a result, the emails will have nowhere to reach and the number of bounced emails will increase. Once your email bounce rate exceeds the set limit, the ESP in use will block your emails.

    What you should do

    If you chose to use an old email list the first thing you should do is to ensure that you use an email verification service to filter out any problematic email addresses. Running a verification test before sending out your email campaign will help you remove unknown users, invalid or suspicious accounts, and also help you to understand the quality of your list.

    Regular email validation can lower the email bounce rate, save you from spam traps, maintain a good reputation, and increase the efficiency of your email marketing campaigns.

    Another wise thing to do is to send out the emails in segments and keep a close eye on the performance of your email campaign. This way you will be able to understand what response you are getting, how you should proceed next, or if it is worth using the list at all.

    Using Purchased Email Lists

    Purchasing an email list may seem like a perfect solution, but it is not. On the contrary, it can be a blunder!

    Purchased lists are costly, have a limited number of resources, and can be inaccurate as well. When you use a purchased list, most of the people from that list did not opt-in for your emails and might be not interested in or unfamiliar with your brand or products. Emailing unfamiliar people is a waste of resources and can get you marked as spam or blocked by your ISP.

    Moreover, by using a purchased list you risk alienating people who might have got interested in your offers sometime in the future.

    What you should do

    Do not buy email lists from unreliable sources. Instead, focus on building your email list by yourself from scratch.

    You can ask people visiting your sites & your followers to subscribe to you. For example:

    • Pitch your email newsletter on your social media accounts. You may promote your email newsletter on your company’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn sites. Individuals who follow you on those sites already like you, but they may or may not be the same people who receive your newsletter. Allow them to choose.
    • Create a signup box on your home page. Your views start at the homepage then why not grab the chance to capture email addresses while they are curious.

    Also, you can offer people access to some content in exchange for their email addresses. For example:

    • Create a unique call to action for each landing page or blog post. Personalized CTAs can be great in gaining email subscribers. As visitors to your blog post or website are looking for something specific, thus your CTA must cater to their demands. For example, if you’re receiving traffic on a blog about SEO strategy, you can pique people’s interest by having a CTA that says “Best tools for SEO.”
    • Give a discount or free trial in exchange for an email address. This has always been ethical bribery and really effective.

    Sending Inconsistent Emails

    Burdening the users with too many emails or barely communicating with them, both are equally dangerous situations that can make you lose a customer/subscriber/prospect.

    The most common industry known for overburdening through emails is – Banks. This image describes my own experience of how one single bank fills my inbox with emails I am not even interested in. So now such emails are just ignored or deleted in bulk but never opened.

    The other side of the coin is rarely sending any emails. This decreases your credibility and with time you may phase out from the minds of the subscribers/customers/prospects.
    Remember, people have opted in to receive communications from you so don’t disappoint them. Use the email campaigns wisely to avoid missing out on valuable opportunities for the growth of your business.

    What you should do

    The frequency of your emails largely depends on your industry, your subscribers, and how long have you been with them.

    If your mailing list is new you have the opportunity to set your receiver’s expectation that can work well both for you and them. Let’s say you can start with one email a month and slowly increase it without annoying your users, like to once a week and then to 2-3 times a week based on the interest and the information you want to give away, it could be a mixture of informational and promotional emails.

    Some brands even tend to email daily, as already said your industry plays a role in this as well. For instance, if you are in the fashion industry a frequency of around 6 times a week is considered best.

    In the above example of banks, the limit should be decided based on facts like

    • Is the recipient an existing user or a prospect? Existing users will not unsubscribe as they will always be interested in receiving updates from the bank. On the other hand, a non-user can mark the emails as spam if over-burdened.
    • Deliverability rate: A low deliverability rate indicates that the email lists may include multiple invalid email addresses. In such cases the email campaigns should be sent out on verifying the email lists, removing invalid email addresses.
    • Open rate: A low open rate indicates that the users are not opening the emails or they are landing in spam. In such cases, it is advised to segment the list based on the duration of subscription, new or old user, past interactions, etc.

    However, make sure to keep an eye on your campaign and the response you get since there is a very thin line between being informational and being annoying.

    You can also try out automating your email programs. Automation will enhance your campaign performance by helping you to be consistent and on schedule with your emails.

    Your ultimate goal should be to neither bore them with too many emails nor remain aloof for too long that they forget you.

    Not Segmenting Your Email List

    Segmenting can increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and can influence people into responding to you.

    The splitting of email subscribers into smaller subgroups based on predetermined criteria is known as segmentation. Segmentation is mostly used as a personalization strategy to offer more relevant email marketing to subscribers based on their geographic location, interests, purchase history, and other factors.

    An increase of 760% in revenue is noted from segmented campaigns. – Campaign Monitor

    58% of total revenue is generated by segmented and targeted emails – DMA

    Hence, if you are sending out the same messages to all your subscribers then you need to change your strategy, especially when you have a variety of users.

    What you should do

    Instead of sending out a single bulk message to all of the email lists, develop segments to cater to each list’s unique interests. For example:

    • Send your emails at different times to accommodate clients in different time zones.
    • Regional promotions by sending targeted emails for specific events at specific store locations.
    • To capture attention and provide a personalized experience, use a location in your headlines or content.
    • Segment based on previous purchases. Send email recommendations for similar things or accessories that might complement their previous purchase.
    • Segment your audience based on where they are in the sales funnel. For example, for a group of brand-new subscribers, their emails should be broader, including information on a variety of items or services – such as a series of welcome emails introducing them to the company.

    Non Personalized Emails

    Personalization helps you to connect better with your subscribers than using a generic message for all. It allows you to deliver more relevant emails based on personal information that customers voluntarily supply when they sign up for a newsletter.

    Customized emails can be used in a variety of ways, from mass emails with personalized subject lines to behavior-based trigger emails such as an abandoned cart, reactivation, and birthday emails.

    By not personalizing your emails you can miss out on opportunities to engage your users and establish a better relationship with them.

    What you should do

    You can add a touch of personalization in subject lines. Salutations, content, images, offers, etc. Use all the data you have from their name, preferences, buying history, search history on your site, etc for personalizing. For example:

    • Show your subscribers that you know them by addressing them by their first names in salutation.
    • Including a subscriber’s name in an image is a novel method to get their attention.
    • People are drawn to their own images, which can cause them to pay attention to your email if you personalize it by including their profile image.
    • Writing personalized emails and getting a response can be as simple as addressing someone’s specific pain areas. Bring up the challenges that your prospect is having, and then give a more immediate solution than new hiring to strike a chord.
    • Use the information you’ve gathered to customize and develop email messages that are relevant to your subscribers’ interests.

    Irrelevant or No Value Emails

    Irrelevant or repeated messages make room for customer intolerance and annoyance.

    A person receives too many messages in a day and they do not have time to go through every single one of them. As a subscriber they would always look forward to more information, updates, what’s new, etc.

    If your emails are constantly irrelevant or do not provide any value to the users they would be of no use to them. As a result, they might ignore, and delete the irrelevant emails to shrink the unwanted email clutter or may unsubscribe to anything unuseful.

    What you should do

    Avoid bulking up the user with monotonous and similar emails.

    For an effective email marketing campaign, you must know your customer’s tastes. And give them what they might like, not just the specifications of your products. Your emails can be about discounts, sales day information, some expert advice, recommendations.

    Try to be creative and useful enough so they would want to go through the full email and might also share it.

    Think about your readers’ fears or doubts about a product and try to clear them out in your emails. Choose the right words and tone to convey your messages.

    Lengthy Messages

    People receive too many emails in a day with limited time to go through them. Lengthy emails can be a problem, especially when used for relaying too important messages that should be done in person or over a call, or in cases when they are used for non-effective things that become hard to understand such as a difficult conversation. If the subscribers get too annoyed or confused they might end up unsubscribing you.

    What you should do

    Always aim to avoid too lengthy emails. Create short, crisp, and to-the-point messages.
    Be clear with the options you give to your readers. 

    You can always add a “Read more” link when you have more to say giving your readers the option to continue reading on your website or any other page.

    You can also give your readers the option of a follow-up phone call or a real-time conversation on any other platform if they are interested in further details, have queries, etc.

    Unclear CTAs

    Not adding proper call to action (CTA) buttons in your emails means leaving your subscribers mid-way as they don’t know what to do next.

    CTAs are important because they direct people in what steps to take for moving forward.

    For example, you may ask subscribers to follow you, sign up, or buy something. Without proper CTAs, your interested customers might not understand how to proceed. This can cause you to lose your potential customers.

    What you should do

    Ensure to place CTAs to guide the subscribers with the right way to proceed. Do not go overboard with them. Avoid any unnecessary elements so that your CTAs are easy to find. Make them interactive, use contrasting colors, add directional cues to make people notice them.

    Look at the example of the Spotify homepage. They have kept their design simple and focused on one major CTA button only.

    Vague “From” Lines

    In email marketing, “from” lines are as important as subject lines. They are also responsible for grabbing the reader’s attention. Yet, people often miss out on this point and end up creating not up to the mark from lines.

    Subscribers are less likely to open a message when they don’t know or the sender or the from lines seem suspicious.

    What you should do

    You should use your brand’s name or the name of the people associated with it.

    For example, when you are sending an email as an employee, write ’employee name’ from ‘company name’. Or you can use the ‘company name’ while representing your organization. Anything else can appear unprofessional and unknown to the receiver.

    Also, it’s best to use a branded email address, as it makes the content seem more official and trustable.

    Not Asking for the Sale

    One of the most common mistakes is not asking for a sale. The sole purpose of a marketing campaign is to increase sales. Not asking for it can cut down your chances of converting your audience into your customer. By not telling them what to do, you’re missing out on sales and ROI.

    Many times, people think they would seem too pushy and are going to push the customers away. But all your time and efforts in crafting a wonderful and compelling message may go in vain if you don’t ask them to buy.

    If you want your hard work to pay off, ask for a sale subtly, and include proper details and guidance leading them to buy from you.

    What you should do

    Provide value in your email by linking your business to your prospect. Avoid adding generic content or only claiming what your business can do and directly offering them your products/ services. Instead, ask questions that might align with your prospects’ goals or address the problems they might have been facing. Such as:

    Do you have any unanswered [topic] questions?
    Are you looking for a lifestyle business or global dominance?
    Is this how it’s always been?
    Do you want to get better at […]?

    And provide clear solutions to them. This will make them more interested in listening to you. After explaining your solution, give a clear, concise offer so that your users know what you want them to do next.

    By doing this you will be able to put forward your sales proposal without sounding too pushy.

    Final Thoughts

    An unverified email list is the most damaging of all email marketing mistakes. Never forget that the success of your email campaigns depends on the quality of your email lists. Make sure to use an email validation service else you will end up throwing away all your hard work.

    Now with a clear idea of what to do and what not to, you can ensure that your emails end up in the right place and not in spam.  This will save your business from unsuccessful campaigns and a low ROI.

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      Author Bio

      Aastha Shaw is immersed in creating & developing content at Clearout & ClearoutPhone, Saas products used for email verification and phone validation respectively. She has been creating content for websites, blogs, and videos for marketing. You can reach out and connect with Aastha on LinkedIn.

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