Making These 4 Email Marketing Mistakes Will Keep You From Success

Why Your Email Marketing Engagement Fails (And How to Fix it)

When I started learning about Internet marketing many years ago, the first thing that I heard over and over again was “the money is in your list.” This wisdom still holds true today, despite the growing number of digital media platforms that marketers can use to reach their audience, the average ROI of email marketing is 3700 percent.

Unfortunately, too many marketers go about email marketing all wrong.

Marketers often believe that email marketing begins and ends with building a list. The value of your list isn’t correlated with the number of subscribers. You can build a list of a million subscribers, but if you don’t engage with them well, your marketing efforts will fail miserably.

Email Marketing Engagement Mistakes to Avoid

If your open rates, click-through-rates and conversion rates are very low, then you are probably not engaging with your list well. Here are some common email marketing engagement mistakes you may be making and some tips to turn things around.

Not Offering Incentives to Keep Them Interested

Are you using your list primarily to educate customers about your brand? This is one of the biggest reasons engagement is faltering.

Few of your subscribers joined your email list simply to hear you talk. Most joined because they expect you to give them something of value, which can include deals on future services, exclusive content or freebies. You need to keep offering them things to maintain their interest.

You don’t have to give them the next winning lottery ticket to keep them interested. Small incentives can work wonders. UncommonGoods has kept customers engaged by offering discounts on premium shipping. They have found that customers are thrilled to save a few dollars on shipping, which is enough to keep them subscribed.

Making These 4 Email Marketing Mistakes Will Keep You From Success

Failing to Initiate Engagement by Making the Customer Participate in the Process

Email marketing for small business is usually very passive. The marketer sends an email and customers read it. It is very easy to begin tuning out emails that don’t require the readers to participate in any meaningful way.

A lot of brands have started changing things up. Bonobos has one of the best email marketing strategies of any brand. One of the biggest reasons their strategy surpasses competitors is that they prompt customers to take action. They often have emails that ask customers to fill out surveys about their clothing choices or answer questions to help them come up with their dream wardrobe.

Avoid Sending Messages for the Sake of It

One of my old roommates used to have an email list to promote his video transcribing business. The problem was he used his list as a soapbox for completely unrelated things. He talked about animal rights activism, vegan recipes and political developments overseas. I stopped reading his emails after a while. Apparently, a lot of his other subscribers did as well, because he noticed his engagement rate plummeted after he started sending irrelevant messages to his readers.

This is an extreme example of a mistake most email marketers make. You need to engage with your subscribers on a regular basis. However, you should only send messages when you have something meaningful to say.

Make sure your emails are relevant to the interests of your subscribers.

Making These 4 Email Marketing Mistakes Will Keep You From Success

Personalize, But Don’t Be Creepy

Personalization is a good thing. Email automation tools, such as Campaign Monitor, give marketers the ability to aggregate customer information. By connecting disparate systems like Salesforce CRM and Shopify eCommerce, marketers can personalize email messages based on information such as geo-location, age, gender and transactional history. For example, let’s say you’re an online jewelry retailer and want to send a discount offer to customers for a female bracelet product line. Segmenting your list by all customer who are female and have purchased a bracelet over the past 12 months, you can send more targeted offers that increase your email engagement and conversion rates.

It is a good idea to begin every email by using your subscriber’s name. You may want to use it one other time in the body of your content if it makes sense. However, many marketers have started using their subscribers’ names too much, which makes their messages seem less natural.

Email Marketing Engagement MistakesTips to Improve Engagement
Not Offering Incentives to Keep Them InterestedProvide value with deals, exclusive content, or freebies. Small incentives can go a long way.
Failing to Initiate Engagement by Making the Customer Participate in the ProcessPrompt customers to take action, such as filling out surveys or answering questions. Encourage participation.
Avoid Sending Messages for the Sake of ItSend messages only when you have meaningful content to share. Ensure relevance to subscribers' interests.
Personalize, But Don’t Be CreepyUse personalization wisely without overusing subscribers' names. Ensure a natural tone in your messages.

Mastering Email Marketing Engagement: Proven Strategies

Boosting email marketing engagement requires more than just avoiding mistakes; it demands a proactive approach. Here are strategies to elevate your email campaigns and keep your subscribers highly engaged:

1. Segment Your Audience Effectively

  • Divide your subscribers into smaller, targeted segments based on demographics, behavior, or preferences.
  • Tailor your content and offers to each segment’s specific interests, ensuring more relevant and engaging emails.

2. Craft Compelling Subject Lines

  • Create attention-grabbing subject lines that pique curiosity or offer a clear benefit.
  • Experiment with emojis, personalization, and A/B testing to find the most effective subject lines for your audience.

3. Deliver Valuable Content

  • Provide content that solves problems, educates, entertains, or offers exclusive benefits.
  • Share useful tips, industry insights, and engaging stories to keep subscribers looking forward to your emails.

4. Maintain Consistency

  • Stick to a consistent email schedule, so subscribers know when to expect your messages.
  • Whether it’s weekly newsletters, monthly updates, or daily deals, reliability fosters trust and engagement.

5. Encourage User-Generated Content

  • Prompt subscribers to share their experiences, reviews, or photos related to your products or services.
  • Showcase user-generated content in your emails to build community and boost engagement.

6. Optimize for Mobile Devices

  • Given the prevalence of mobile usage, ensure your emails are mobile-responsive.
  • Test your emails on various devices to guarantee they display correctly and are easy to interact with.

7. Leverage Interactive Elements

  • Incorporate interactive elements like polls, surveys, quizzes, and clickable content to make emails more engaging.
  • Encourage subscribers to actively participate, providing valuable data and feedback.

8. Monitor and Analyze Metrics

  • Continually track email metrics, including open rates, CTR, and conversion rates.
  • Analyze data to identify trends and adjust your email strategy accordingly, focusing on what works best.
Strategies for Email Marketing EngagementDescription
Segment Your Audience EffectivelyDivide subscribers into smaller, targeted segments based on demographics, behavior, or preferences. Tailor content and offers for relevance.
Craft Compelling Subject LinesCreate attention-grabbing subject lines using emojis, personalization, and A/B testing to find what resonates with your audience.
Deliver Valuable ContentProvide content that solves problems, educates, entertains, or offers exclusive benefits. Share useful tips, insights, and engaging stories.
Maintain ConsistencyStick to a consistent email schedule, fostering trust and engagement by delivering messages reliably.
Encourage User-Generated ContentPrompt subscribers to share experiences, reviews, or photos related to your products or services. Showcase user-generated content in emails.
Optimize for Mobile DevicesEnsure emails are mobile-responsive and tested on various devices for correct display and ease of interaction.
Leverage Interactive ElementsIncorporate polls, surveys, quizzes, and clickable content to make emails interactive and encourage active participation.
Monitor and Analyze MetricsContinually track email metrics, including open rates, CTR, and conversion rates. Analyze data to adjust your email strategy effectively.

Making These 4 Email Marketing Mistakes Will Keep You From Success

Enhancing Email Marketing Engagement: Advanced Tactics

Achieving outstanding email marketing engagement goes beyond the basics. Employ these advanced tactics to take your email campaigns to the next level:

1. Behavioral Triggers

  • Implement automated behavioral triggers based on subscriber actions (e.g., website visits, abandoned carts, or previous purchases).
  • Send personalized, timely emails triggered by specific behaviors, increasing relevancy and engagement.

2. Dynamic Content

  • Create dynamic email content that adapts based on user data, such as location, past interactions, or preferences.
  • Deliver hyper-personalized emails that resonate with each subscriber, driving higher engagement.

3. Predictive Analytics

  • Utilize predictive analytics to anticipate subscriber preferences and behavior.
  • Send tailored content and recommendations before subscribers even realize they want it, boosting engagement.

4. AI-Powered Personalization

  • Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze subscriber data and predict individual preferences.
  • Generate personalized product recommendations, subject lines, and content to enhance engagement.

5. Interactive Email Experiences

  • Explore advanced interactive elements like image carousels, scratch-off cards, or gamified content.
  • Encourage subscribers to actively engage with your emails, leading to higher click-through rates.

6. Progressive Profiling

  • Implement progressive profiling to gradually collect more data about your subscribers over time.
  • Use this data to refine your targeting and deliver more personalized content as you learn more about each subscriber.

7. Predictive A/B Testing

  • Employ predictive A/B testing algorithms to optimize email elements automatically.
  • Let the AI choose the best-performing subject lines, send times, or content variations for maximum engagement.

8. Advanced Segmentation Algorithms

  • Utilize advanced segmentation algorithms to create micro-segments within your audience.
  • Tailor emails to highly specific groups based on intricate criteria, increasing relevancy and engagement.

Making These 4 Email Marketing Mistakes Will Keep You From Success

Email Marketing Compliance: Legal and Ethical Guidelines

While it’s essential to focus on engagement, it’s equally crucial to adhere to legal and ethical standards in your email marketing campaigns. Failing to comply with regulations can lead to penalties, damage your reputation, and reduce engagement. Here’s a checklist to ensure your email marketing complies with legal and ethical guidelines:

1. Permission-Based Marketing

  • Only send emails to individuals who have explicitly opted in to receive your messages.
  • Implement a double opt-in process to confirm subscribers’ consent.

2. Unsubscribe Mechanism

  • Include a visible and easy-to-use unsubscribe link in every email.
  • Honor unsubscribe requests promptly, typically within ten business days.

3. Accurate Sender Information

  • Use a recognizable sender name and email address.
  • Clearly identify your organization in the “From” field.

4. Physical Address

  • Include a valid physical mailing address in your emails, as required by the CAN-SPAM Act (US) and similar laws worldwide.

5. Subject Line Transparency

  • Ensure subject lines accurately represent the content of the email.
  • Avoid misleading or deceptive subject lines.

6. Content Transparency

  • Clearly identify the sender and purpose of the email in the content.
  • Use a consistent “Reply-To” address for recipient inquiries.

7. Privacy and Data Security

  • Safeguard subscriber data and protect it from unauthorized access.
  • Clearly communicate your data handling practices in your privacy policy.

8. Compliance with Anti-Spam Laws

  • Familiarize yourself with anti-spam laws like CAN-SPAM (US), CASL (Canada), and GDPR (EU).
  • Comply with regulations regarding email consent, data protection, and sender identification.

9. Mobile Responsiveness

  • Ensure your emails are mobile-responsive for subscribers reading on smartphones and tablets.
  • Test email layouts on various devices and email clients.

10. Regular Auditing and Updates

  • Periodically review your email marketing practices to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Stay informed about changes in email marketing regulations and adjust your strategy accordingly.

11. Ethical Content

  • Avoid sending offensive, discriminatory, or harmful content.
  • Maintain high ethical standards in your email campaigns.

Photo via Shutterstock

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Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.