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This is a guest post from Fit Small Business.

By 2021, it’s estimated that email accounts will grow by 22% from today. While some marketing disciplines will claim that email is not the powerful communication channel it once was–the data suggests otherwise.  

Email communication provides businesses with an unparalleled channel to reach their target audience. Email lets you avoid pay-to-play platforms like social media and is a more scalable channel than telemarketing. Moreover, email marketing is incredibly cheap compared to other channels like television or radio.

In other words, email marketing isn’t just alive–it’s thriving.

If you want to invest more in your email strategies, you should start by assessing how well your current email campaigns are running. You might be surprised to learn that many businesses still struggle to use email effectively.

What are some reasons customers aren’t reading your emails?

From convoluted email lists to poorly structured messaging, here are four of the most common email marketing mistakes and how you can fix them.

1. Your email lists are outdated or inaccurate.

Businesses shouldn’t undervalue the power of an effective email marketing list. Unlike other channels like social, email provides a direct line to your customers. Moreover, the average person checks their email roughly 15 times a day.

If your customers aren’t reading your emails, it could be that your email lists are being mismanaged.

Research by Marketing Sherpas estimates that email marketing databases experience a 22.5% organic decay year-over-year. In other words, an email list that isn’t frequently updated is unlikely to yield. Businesses need to take a proactive approach to manage their email marketing lists.

Get creative with list-building strategies.

You will need to get creative with your email list-building to deal with the natural email churn in marketing lists. Gating valuable content is one of the easiest ways to grow an engaged email list. You can lock an eBook or free consultation behind an email sign-up form, so users have to give you their contact information before they receive the value exchange.

Getting creative with your list-building initiatives can increase your email sign-ups, while also allowing you to target leads at different stages of the sales funnel.

Collect the right data.

When you’re creating a list-building strategy, think about the data you want to collect. For example, if you’re building an active client email list, you might want to know their name, email, products/services purchased, the amount spent to date, and location.

Now, if you were to collect a top-of-the-funnel lead, you might only need their name and email since they might be further from the purchasing stage of the sales funnel. Be smart about the data you’re collecting and keep it focused on what’s most important for that individual.

Keep your lists clean.

While businesses spend a lot of energy on list-building strategies, they rarely focus on maintaining clean lists. There are several negatives to low-quality email lists. For instance, you could end up sending the wrong messaging to a contact or emailing someone who has tried to unsubscribe previously.

You also run the risk of high bounce rates on your email campaigns if you have poorly managed email lists. Stale lists that result in high bounce rates can cause your IP to be blacklisted and marked as spam from email providers. If your domain is marked as spam, it can affect your ability to reach your subscribers. Generally, you want to avoid a bounce rate of more than 2%.

2. You’re not personalizing or segmenting correctly.

Personalizing emails and segmenting marketing lists can help businesses increase open rates, engage recipients, and increase revenue. In fact, Campaign Monitor research suggests that marketers who segment their email campaigns see an increase in revenue of 760%.

Segment your lists strategically.

Segmenting your marketing lists is a macro-strategy to create a more customized email. Instead of dumping all your emails into one list, you can create segments based on whatever variables you find most relevant to your business.

For instance, if you run a local dry-cleaning business, you could segment your email lists by location, gender, and services purchased. You could then run discounts based on location or gender–or create emails to cross-sell your customers.

The more granular you segment your lists, the more opportunities for targeted messaging.

Personalize your email message.

In addition to list segmenting, you need to personalize the physical emails. Personalized emails improve engagement and create a stronger bond between the consumer and your brand. In fact, it’s estimated that personalized email messages can increase click-through rates up by 14% and conversions by 10%.

Fortunately, many email marketing technologies provide automated solutions to seamlessly integrate personalized messages into your email campaigns. One way to personalize the messaging is to leverage dynamic content–which allows you to show different messages based on email segments, lists, or variables.

You can also use customer journey automation to trigger specific emails based on the activity of a user. Did a lead click on your pricing list? You can send them a follow-up email based on that action. Personalizing emails through automated and dynamic solutions provides a scalable approach to targeted messaging.

3. You’re setting your emails up to fail.

Sadly, you can build the most amazing email list and design an incredible message and still fail. There are several small factors that can cause your perfect email never to make it past the inbox.

Use the right email address.

Does your small business still use an email address from a generic service like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail? If so, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Customers expect brands to have a business email that is linked to their domain name. A business email address makes your emails look more professional, improves brand awareness, and helps it stand out from the spam and clutter.  You can get a free business email address in minutes–and increase the likelihood of your emails getting read.

Send your emails at the perfect time.

You might also be limiting your chance for success by sending emails on the wrong days or at the wrong times. Determining the best time to send your emails is fundamental to the success of any great marketing campaign. Send it when the inbox is busy, and your customers might miss your perfectly-crafted email.

However, sending your emails at the right time can help you increase your opens, reads, and conversions. While you should use your own data to make a decision about what day and time works best for your industry, general research suggests the best time to send emails is during work hours–9am – 5pm (excluding lunch) accounts for 53% of email opens.

As far as what days to send your email, most research suggests avoiding Monday because it’s usually the day people use to clear out the inbox from the weekend. This can cause your email to get bypassed. Tuesday and Thursday are seen as the optimal days for sending marketing emails.

Make your emails mobile-friendly.

Responsive emails are become more important every year–with more consumers opening their emails on mobile than desktop. If your emails do not display correctly on mobile devices, they may be deleted in as little as three seconds.

Poor formatting reflects badly on your brand and can cause your consumers to ignore any future messages from you. Mobile-testing your emails means more than just selecting a responsive email template: You should test all your emails before sending. Make sure to double check images, content flow, and the CTA to ensure it’s easy to follow and navigate on a mobile device.

4. Your email content is lacking.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but one of the most decisive reasons people aren’t reading your emails is because the content is lacking. Email is a communication channel just like anything else–social, TV, websites, radio, etc.

As a result, people have certain expectations that, if not met, can cause them to ignore your future emails.

Nail the welcome email.

With email, your first impression is critical. It sets the tone for your brand, and it’s the most receptive your audience will ever be to your email messaging. The average open rate for a welcome email is 86% more than typical newsletters.

To succeed with welcome emails, you need first to make sure it’s automated. When someone subscribes to a list, 74% expect to receive a welcome email immediately–any delay can decrease the recipient engagement. Also, use the welcome email as an opportunity to set consumer expectations about your brand, the frequency of communication, and other factors that might make the subsequent emails more effective.

Create a great subject line.

Just like a headline for an article, your email subject line needs to catch the reader’s eye, add context to the message, and elicit action. There are several ways to craft the perfect subject line, and a lot of times, it’ll depend on your brand, industry, and the purpose of the email.

Generally, you should try to keep your email subject line relatively short. Most desktop inboxes cut off the subject line after about 60 characters, and mobile emails are roughly 25-30 characters.

Also, try to keep it relevant to the email message, timely when a deadline is required, and use emojis to stand out from the text-heavy clutter–Experian reported that 56% of brands that used emojis in their subject lines saw higher open rates.

Provide value to your readers.

While subject lines and welcome emails can help you increase your email activity, if you’re not providing value to your recipients consistently, they won’t continue to read your emails. The more value you offer your email subscribers, the more likely they are to engage with your brand and any additional emails.

You can provide value in your emails by focusing on your consumer–and not just your business. What issues do your consumers face? Create emails that address these issues and be willing to offer advice without asking for something in return.

Email should also be incorporated into an omnichannel strategy. Don’t silo your email campaigns from your content strategy or social media marketing. The language across all channels should have a uniform and consistent feel. This is important for email marketing because you are usually pushing visitors to a landing page on your website. If the content in the email is not supported further on the landing page, it could create a poor user experience that limits the success of your email efforts.

Wrap up

Email marketing is one of the best channels to reach your customers. However, if you’re not taking a calculated approach to your email strategy, there’s a good chance you’re missing a huge opportunity to engage your target audience. From the email lists to the physical email itself, there are several ways to increase the number of recipients reading your emails.

By focusing on the steps above, you can improve the likelihood that your customers are reading and engaging with your emails.

If you’re not seeing the results you want with your email marketing campaigns, check out our features to see how Campaign Monitor can help.

About the author: Christine Soeun Choi is an SEO associate at Fit Small Business specializing in digital marketing. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. When not helping small business owners, Christine enjoys taking photos, exploring artwork, and traveling.

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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