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This is a guest post from Samuel Hum at Referral Candy.

Email marketing is extremely important in keeping your brand top of mind and bringing customers back to your website.

However, it can also be quite complex due to the sheer amount of variables that affect it. When open rates and click-throughs aren’t what you expect, we start to ask ourselves questions like:

“Did they receive it but didn’t open it?”

“Did they open it but didn’t like it?”

“Why are they unsubscribing?”

Read on to discover 5 reasons why your emails may not be performing as well as they should, as well as tips to fix or prevent these common email marketing mistakes and maximize your campaigns:

Common email marketing mistakes

1. Sending emails that lack personalization

When we think of personalization in email marketing, different ideas come to mind. In order to be successful in email marketing, you have to master them all.

Personalization isn’t just a buzzword; it’s one of the main drivers to a successful email marketing campaign. Personalized emails have about 26% higher open rates, and over 14% click-through rates when compared to other, non-personalized emails.

As mentioned by Peter DeNunzio, general manager of cross-channel marketing from Experian Marketing Services in a study on email marketing personalization:

“Consumers have come to expect content tailored to their unique interests and preferences, and there is a clear business case for why marketers need to meet those expectations.”

Personalized copywriting (starting from the subject line)

Using your subscriber’s first name in the subject line is an effective way to instantly make your email more personalized.

Take a look at the example from LinkedIn that uses the first name in their subject:

LinkedIn personalized subject first name

It makes your customers feel that you are talking directly to them. That hint of personal touch will also make your email seem less “salesy.”

Personalized content based on customers’ demographics

To take personalization a step further than just the use of first names, you need to make use of other data that you have received from them when they opted in. This information can be used to plan promotions and relevant content for their demographics.

You should make use of data including:

  • Date of birth (their birthdays and age)
  • Gender
  • Location (specific festivals and seasons, if applicable)
  • Interests (that are relevant to your products/services)

Engaging them based on their demographics help make your emails more personalized and more relevant to them, which will increase their chances of interacting further with your brand.

Personalized recommendations based on customers’ behavior

Another great way to make your content more personalized is to recommend products that your customers have browsed while on your site.

Customers who haven’t purchased

Fab cart abandonment email example shopify

(Cart abandonment email sent by Fab | Image: Shopify)

Abandoned carts are a good place to start because the customer liked the item(s) enough to add it to the cart, but there was something that stopped them. Sending a cart abandonment email to inform them that the item they chose is still available will help remind them if they forgot about it and encourage them to make the purchase.

Customers who have purchased

You can also apply a similar approach to email customers who have purchased from you. The key difference would be that you should now recommend products that are either similar in style or complementary to that item they purchased previously.

You should also take the opportunity to increase customer loyalty by encouraging existing clients to interact with your brand by offering rewards points, discounts, or special perks.

Audible email similar recommendations

(Image: Audible email recommendations)

In this example, Audible sends an email notifying me of recommendations (based on what I have bought), and also the current bestsellers.

Further reading:

6 ways you can make your email campaigns more personalized

5 Ways To Use Personalization To Engage Your Customers

2. Not knowing or ignoring your sender reputation

If you’re not aware of what your sender reputation is, there’s a high chance it’s affecting you more than you know.

As the name suggests, your sender reputation represents your authenticity and credibility as a sender. It’s a score that Internet Service Providers (ISP) give in order to determine if what you’re sending is genuine or spam.

Your reputation is determined by many factors, including:

Your email bounce rates

When an email that you send bounces, it could be due to a temporary problem like a full inbox (soft bounce), or a more permanent issue like a closed email account (hard bounce).

The best way to prevent this from happening is to review your email lists regularly and remove those who have not been actively opening your emails. Doing this will ensure that your email list consists of more active subscribers, thus reducing your bounce rates.

Daily email volume

Spam senders love to send out to huge lists at once, as they want to have maximum reach. Your reputation may be negatively affected if you’re also sending numerous, irrelevant emails to massive groups of people.

This is especially true when sending first emails. If ISPs feel that large amounts of mail are coming from a new IP address, they will start to investigate further.

To mitigate this, you can follow an incremental schedule to “warm up” your IP address.

Unsubscribe rates

If your subscribers are unsubscribing en masse, that’s another red flag for you.

Assuming that your email content is on point (more tips on that coming up), you want to ensure that those who subscribe to you are genuinely interested in knowing more about your brand.

A double opt-in feature requires the subscriber to check their email and click a link to approve the subscription. This extra step will lead to an overall lower quantity of signups, but it will ensure that those who really want to hear more from you successfully subscribe.

3. Getting your emails flagged as spam

After you have analyzed your email metrics, it’s time to look at the content of your emails again. There a couple of issues to look at so you don’t get grouped together with the spammers.

Keeping your content relevant

Producing content that isn’t what your readers subscribed for will make your emails very unpopular, often causing them to be ignored or marked as spam by subscribers.

It’s always a good idea to tell your readers what content they can expect to receive from you. Once you do that, you can then focus on producing content that’s relevant to that expectation.

An additional tip will be to occasionally ask your subscribers what content they would like to see more of in future emails. This feedback will give keep you on track to send emails with relevant content.

4. Ignoring your target market’s concerns

CB Insights diagram demographics vs psychographics

(Diagram comparing demographics and psychographics used in customer personas | Image: CB Insights)

Coming up with content ideas that are relevant to all your subscribers can be extremely difficult, as you can’t constantly ask them what they want to know.

An effective way to come up with relevant content that addresses your subscribers’ concerns is to create customer personas. Customer personas are fictional representations of your target customers. You probably have a pretty good idea who your target customers are, but crafting these personas will give you a much deeper insight into their needs and concerns.

To create a detailed persona, you should combine your customers’ demographics and psychographics. Demographics will give you insight into who they are by providing information about gender, age, marital status, occupation, income level, etc. Psychographics, while less discussed, will tell you about their values, thoughts, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.

Crafting customer personas based on both demographics and psychographics will help you understand what your customers are going through and what they actually need. This, in turn, will allow you to craft content that will directly address those pain points.

5. Sending the same email to all your subscribers (segmentation is key)

Now that you have created your customer personas, it’s time to give them relevant content.

However, just like your various personas will have different reasons for coming to you, not all your subscribers subscribe for the same reasons.

Sending them all the same email will relate to some but not all, and will ultimately make the rest lose interest.

One way to avoid that is to create segmentation based on your customer personas. You can place your segmentation right at the subscription stage, where subscribers can select what topics they are interested in. This will feed them into different mailing lists, where you can provide different types of content to engage them differently.

For example, Hubspot’s blog has four options to choose from when opting in for their newsletter: Marketing, Sales, Service, and Agency. Hubspot will then send you relevant content based on your chosen preferences.

It might also happen that your customers are at different stages of your funnel, which means that each individual customer needs to receive specific content that’s relevant to their purchase stage.

A widely known strategy called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) is a formula that allows marketers to provide results-driven content to their readers with the end goal of making them move through the sales funnel.

Wrap up

Avoiding these 5 common email marketing mistakes will take time and experimentation.

However, addressing them will eventually give you a much better understanding of your company, your target customers, and how to prevent automated email systems from cutting your efforts short.

About the author:

Samuel is a writer for Anafore, the Singapore-based company behind CandyBar and ReferralCandy, two SaaS products that allow online and offline retailers to run customer referral and loyalty programs.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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