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4 Common Email Marketing Challenges and How to Beat Them

Email marketing is an undoubtedly powerful method of getting your name out there, but it’s not always the easiest. Granted, it’s not exactly the hardest either, but you’ve got to attract subscribers, consider the timing of your campaigns, get your copy and design right – and decide what you’re going to offer within each campaign.…

Email marketing is a powerful way for companies to get their name out there, but it’s not always the easiest! Let’s delve into 4 all too common problems...Email marketing is an undoubtedly powerful method of getting your name out there, but it’s not always the easiest.

Granted, it’s not exactly the hardest either, but you’ve got to attract subscribers, consider the timing of your campaigns, get your copy and design right – and decide what you’re going to offer within each campaign.

But y’know, no pressure.

In this article, we’ll be looking at 4 major stumbling blocks that businesses have with email marketing and how you can tackle them today!

1. “Some of our emails don’t reach their recipients or bounce consistently.”

When you work hard on an email campaign, it’s a bit of a kick in the pants if you find out that many of your emails haven’t actually made it through.

Firstly, we need to establish whether the domain part of your email address domain (the “” bit) is on any spam blacklists. These are databases that record sources of spam for the purposes of keeping our lives as spam free as possible. There are numerous spam blacklist checkers out there, but MXToolbox and UltraTools are great places to start. Most blacklist databases provide a removal process; as long as you know the name of the database you’re on, a quick Google search should show you how.

Secondly, always use a specially formulated email marketing tool like MailChimp or TinyLetter – never send email en masse through your regular email software. Emails sent through apps like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Apple Mail go directly through your company’s own mail server, meaning that any resulting spam complaints become associated with you as a sender. This can cause untold havoc for sending future email of any variety!

Email marketing tools shield your own server from spam complaints, provide handy design functions, analytical tools, and include unsubscribe links automatically.

After you’ve sent a campaign, always make a point of looking at how it performed and how your subscribers have responded. It may be worth removing email addresses that constantly bounce back or those who never open your mail because sending to those in particular can cause deliverability issues in the long term.

2. “We keep getting spam complaints!”

If spam complaints and email marketing seem to go hand in hand, you may need to reassess your relationship with your subscribers. Are you sure that everyone on your list has properly consented to receive mail from you? I don’t want to go on about GDPR, but if you’ve added people to your lists without their consent – remove them immediately!

And just because someone has opted in before doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still interested. Again, if they haven’t shown interest in a long while, let ‘em go.

All bulk email should feature an automatic “unsubscribe” option – many email marketing tools provide this as standard, with some disallowing you from sending a campaign without it. This should allow readers to unsubscribe in one click if possible; there’s no need to get people jumping through unnecessary hoops if they want to leave.

3. “Our conversion rates from email are low.”

From a copywriting perspective, remember what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Focus on what the customer needs, not what you want to sell. How does their need tie in to what you offer? What pain points does your service solve? How do you make your customers’ lives better?

Look closely at what you’re offering within each email campaign and make sure that matches the expectations set out in the subject line. Readers can easily feel duped when an email’s subject line promises the earth but the reality of the offer is far more mundane. Use market research to get to the root of your customer’s needs and motivations, and offer up something realistic but attractive that speaks to those requirements.

If you have a large amount of email subscribers, they may not have a lot in common. B2Bs may have subscribers from different industries, different sized companies, with very different roles. B2Cs may have people from very different walks of life, interested in different products for various reasons. Rather than sending a bland email designed to appeal to everybody on your list, split your subscribers into relevant subgroups (called “segments”) and create different mailouts that target each group’s specific situation.

And finally on the subject of conversion, don’t overdo it on the calls to action. Ideally, you want to encourage a single action you’d like the reader to complete. When you provide more than one CTA, you end up pulling your subscribers in different mental directions before they’ve even decided to click at all! I know in an ideal world you’d like the reader to do X, Y and Z, but in reality you should focus on pushing a single action per email.

4. “Our open rates and engagement are low.”

In terms of open rates, the main thing you need to look at is your subject line. Does it tempt the reader to click through? Or is it something totally bland and generic like “Latest Newsletter from Thingybob Ltd”. Read up on marketing concepts like AIDA and the curiosity gap to pique people’s interest and get them wanting to read more. Again – remember how your offer ties in to what your customer needs!

Also, look at the content within the email – is that similarly bland? People crave a human connection, so don’t be afraid to inject personality into your emails – even humour where appropriate. Imagine you’re writing to a single person who embodies your ideal client (or the ideal person for that segment) rather than trying to appeal to everybody.

Many marketing email packages allow you to edit the “preheader” of an email which is a piece of text that serves as a preview of the email content (examples shown below, underlined in red). Use the preheader to add something enticing to encourage a click through without simply parroting the sentiment of the subject line.

Example of preheaders shown in the GMail Android App.

Always offer value in your emails. Even if the main call to action is to make a purchase, give the reader a useful tip or refer them to a valuable resource. This way, even if they don’t take you up on your main CTA, they’ll still have something to take away and use – hopefully keeping you top of mind when they do!

Before you send any bulk email, always send a test email to yourself to see how it looks on various devices – your images and text should be legible and presentable on mobiles, tablets, and PCs. You don’t know what weird and wonderful devices your subscribers use to view their email, so test as thoroughly as you can.

And lastly, look at the analytics for previous campaigns to identify any patterns. Do subscribers appear to prefer it when you send campaigns in the morning or afternoon? Do they open your sales emails less readily than your blog update emails? What are your average click through or conversion rates from email and does any specific kind of campaign achieve a better result than others? Don’t be afraid to try things out and note what each experiment has taught you.

[bctt tweet=”Low email open rates? Shaky conversion rates? Bid farewell to these 4 common #emailmarketing issues!” username=”yellbusiness”]

What email marketing problems have you come up against in your business? How did you overcome them? Do you feel there are any other common email marketing problems that we’ve overlooked here? Let’s have a chat down in the comments!

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