Email marketing is a fantastic tool for keeping your audience informed, transforming interested subscribers into repeat buyers, and making your most loyal customers even happier.
But while it provides all of these benefits, the truth is that email marketing isn’t easy—especially when you want it done right.
To help curb some of the frustrations we often see during email marketing campaigns, we’ve compiled a list of common issues and ways to fix them.
“No one’s opening my emails!”
Improve your Subject, Preview, and From fields.
These three fields are the very first impressions readers get when they receive your email, so they need to be flawless.
- Your Subject line should be clear and direct—and, most of all, not clickbait-y. Clickbait breeds mistrust. Trust breeds conversions. Which would you prefer to have?
- Add your subscriber’s name to the Subject line. This increases the chances of your emails being opened—by 26%, according to Campaign Monitor—because it grabs attention and makes people feel special.
- When crafting your Subject line, remember the classic CURVE formula:
- Curiosity. Pique their interest. Don’t give away all the info in the subject line; rather, make subscribers want to open your email to find out more.
- Urgency. This doesn’t mean screaming at your readers to ACT NOW. Think of it more as letting them know why they should read this email now rather than save it for later: are you running out of the product? Does the sale end soon? Just don’t create urgency where there isn’t any (if that’s the case, maybe you should rethink sending an email).
- Relevancy. If you’re sending the same email to every one of your subscribers, you’d better hope that they’re all interested in what you’re saying…all the time. If your subscriber base is too varied for this to work, you need to divide your subscriber list into different segments based on their demographics and interests and only send them emails that fit those parameters. (Fair warning: you’ll be hearing this particular advice a lot in this post!)
- Value. Why should someone bother to read your email? What are you offering them in exchange for their time? Think beyond discounts and sales—how can you solve a problem the reader has?
- Emotion. Buying decisions are primarily based in emotion (as opposed to logic). In your subject line, try mentioning how your product will make the reader feel rather than simply stating a fact about it.
The Preview field is the place to let your subscribers know a bit more about what they can expect to see when they open your email. However, it shouldn’t reveal everything—then your subscribers have no reason to open what you’ve sent.
Still not sure what to write? Consider using the Preview line to further display your brand’s personality. The Subject line is also a great place for that, but sometimes you need that vital space to drive home your offer. A 2015 study by ReturnPath found that the most effective Subject line length was only five words—not a whole lot of room to communicate your brand’s voice and convince them to click.
A/B test your Subject and Preview lines to see exactly what works best for your needs. When does humor work better: when you’re advertising a clearance sale, or when you’re teasing a new release? Which customer segments respond better to prices and percentages, and which seem to prefer flowery prose? These are all things you can only learn by segmenting and testing.
The From field makes a huge impact on a reader’s decision to delete or open your email. Ideally, this field should make it very clear at a glance where your email is coming from.
One of the most effective formulas for business-to-business emails includes a person’s name as well as the company name: Monica at Kirkpatrick Creative instead of Kirkpatrick Creative or just Monica, for example. Business-to-consumer emails don’t always need a person’s name in the From field, but if that works for your brand, go for it!
Keep character limits in mind, though: if your From info is too long, it get cut off in a subscriber’s inbox. If you’re concerned yours is too long, try to put the most telling info at the beginning. Character limits vary based on browser and platform, so it’s a good idea to A/B test to figure out an optimal character length (for all your fields, not just this one).
Segment for greater relevance.
Maybe your emails just aren’t that interesting to your subscribers. This is where segmentation comes in: separating your subscribers into sections based on their various interests. When you start sending specific, interesting emails to specific, interested customers, your open rates are likely to be far higher than when you just send everything to everyone.
“No one’s clicking anything in my emails!”
Segment for greater relevance (again!).
Like I said above, email marketing should never be a shotgun approach: pulling the trigger and hoping something hits. Instead, you should be sending specific emails to specific subscribers, based on their:
- Demographics. Your Hawaiian readers will likely just delete the “COAT SALE!” email you send in November. Likewise, it’s doubtful that teens will be too interested in your anti-aging skincare campaign. There are always exceptions to the rule, but it’s more valuable to have several pleased readers with a few anomalies who missed out (the Hawaiian resident who would love to buy a coat for her mom in Wisconsin, for example) than to send a wide array of possibly-pointless emails to your entire subscriber list.
- Habits. It’s a great idea to make your loyal customers feel loved with exclusive offers and benefits, but that doesn’t mean you should send those offers to everyone. Instead, keep readers who are still in the “considering” phase (i.e., those who have subscribed to you but haven’t bought anything yet) on the hook by informing them about your best products and sharing the rave reviews other customers have written.
- Interests. This is a no-brainer: if you have a subscriber who exclusively browses one or two specific departments, you shouldn’t bombard her with emails from the areas she’s shown no interest in. Curated emails tailored to her tastes are far more likely to get her to click (and, ultimately, convert).
- Preferences. Offer an email preference center to keep subscribers happy. Some people love getting daily emails with products and offers. Others can’t stand it, preferring a tidier inbox with emails from you only every month or so. Either way, providing an email preference center is a win-win: customers tell you what they like, and you get the info you need to keep them coming back.
People like to feel like they’re being listened to. When your subscribers tell you their demographics, habits, interests, and preferences, they expect to get something in return: a personalized, friction-free experience when they interact with you.
Improve your calls to action.
- In emails, buttons perform much better than links. They’re easier for mobile users to tap, and they’re more eye-catching than links no matter what platform your subscribers are on.
- Remember that your call to action should tell a reader exactly what they can expect when they click through. That’s why “CLICK HERE” (vague, scary) isn’t compelling and “RESERVE MY SPOT” (exciting, urgent) is much better.
- Don’t stuff your email full of distracting links and expect the reader to know where you want them to go. Decide which button you really want them to click and make that the focus by making it bigger and/or brighter than the rest of the links in your email.
- Consider having a CTA button above the fold—that is, above the point where they’ll have to scroll to read more—as well as at the bottom of your email. Above the fold is great for fast-acters and scanners, while the bottom of the email is a natural spot for people to look for a CTA when they’re done readng.
“People are clicking through my emails, but no one’s converting once they get to my site!”
Fix your landing page.
This solution technically doesn’t happen within your emails, but it’s still a major part of your campaigns. If the landing pages you’re sending your subscribers to are ugly, unresponsive, and/or counterintuitive to use, then your conversion rates aren’t likely to be high.
Not sure where to start when building (or rebuilding) your landing pages? Here are 6 tips to improve customer experience and help boost conversion rates.
Segment your subscribers (yes, again!).
Personalization shouldn’t end when a subscriber clicks through your email. Play to your subscribers’ various desires and show them that you’re listening to their wants and needs with separate landing pages tailored just for them.
For example, give your loyal customers and your potential customers the two different experiences I touched on above:
- Reward the returning customer with a loyalty program to show your appreciation. Take her to a page that shows how many points she has (or can earn) with your system.
- Tempt your engaging-but-not-converting customer with deals and steals. Lead her to a curated landing page of discounts on some of your highest-rated products.
“My emails are bouncing!”
Clean up your subscriber list.
A hard bounce occurs when you send emails to accounts that are no longer active. This is a problem because:
- Inactive subscribers skew your reporting. Get rid of the subscribers that are never going to open one of your emails so you can get a more accurate reading of the emails that are working well for you (and the ones that aren’t quite up to snuff.
- Hard bounces make ISPs think you’re spamming. “If you have a high bounce rate, this tells the ISP you aren’t doing a great job of keeping up to date with your subscribers and shows you have problems with engagement,” explains Lane Harbin, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Campaign Monitor.
To prevent these issues, purge the accounts that haven’t opened your emails in a year or so. Quality over quantity matters when it comes to your subscriber list: it’s better to have a lower number of valuable subscribers than a larger number of harmful ones.
“I don’t see my email marketing problem on this list!”
Give Kirkpatrick Creative a shout.
Email marketing is far more complex than just these few common issues. If you’re still having trouble creating the perfect campaign, contact Kirkpatrick Creative today for help with your marketing and advertising concerns.