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Article first published in December 2016, updated July 2019

Digital marketing requires marketers to stay up-to-date, not only on best practices, but also on strategies. Professionals must be familiar with various digital marketing channels, available technologies, and the ever-changing preferences of consumers. 

The struggle is very real, and that’s why we surveyed hundreds of marketers at growing businesses to understand their goals, as well as the unique barriers they face in their own email marketing strategies.

Before we dive into email marketing strategy challenges, though, we asked these businesses to describe email marketing success. 80% described their email strategy as successful versus the competition, while 30% considered their email marketing strategy competitively “best-in-class.”

With that said, here are the 7 email marketing challenges that most businesses face.

email strategy infographic

Strategic challenge #1: Increasing engagement rates

  • 58% of marketers said increasing engagement rates was their #1 goal
  • 44% also said it was their #1 challenge

Smart marketers know that the key to great results is keeping customers interested with relevant and targeted information.

Helpful Hint: Use segmentation and personalization to create more relevant content, then send that content through automated customer journeys.

Strategic challenge #2: Increasing customer acquisition

  • 52% of marketers said that their #1 goal was acquiring new customers – meaning people who actually buy stuff
  • 35% also said this was the #1 challenge

Marketing automation tools let successful marketers create relevant customer journeys to turn leads into customers and customers into loyal evangelists.

Fun Fact: Email is 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Stop posting, start sending.

Strategic challenge #3: Improving customer retention

  • 40% of marketers said that keeping customers loyal was the #1 goal
  • 18% said it was their #1 challenges

When it comes to brand consideration, customer choice is increasing, but attention spans are decreasing. You’ve got to cut through the clutter and make an impact to retain your customer base.

Fun Fact: Retaining customers costs less than getting new customers and helps your bottom line. What’s more, returning customers are the best customers of all.

Strategic challenge #4: Improving email personalization

  • 38% of marketers said their #1 goal was getting better at personalization
  • 36% said it was their #1 challenge

Marketers have spoken about their most effective tactics

  • 56% – Email segmentation
  • 54% – Individual messaging
  • 45% – Behavior-triggered emails
  • 31% – Responsive design
  • 28% – Social media integration
  • 27% – Individualized landing pages
  • 21% – Self-managed preference center

Personalized email = more customer relevance and more sales. And that’s the name of the game.

Fun Fact: Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and generate a 760% increase in revenue.

Strategic challenge #5: Increase brand awareness

  • 37% of marketers said that getting their brand out there was their #1 goal
  • 24% rated it as their #1 challenge

Brand awareness can be tough to measure: It’s difficult to see how many people you reach if they don’t take any action on your website. However, don’t worry, there are tools out there that can help measure where your online traffic is coming from.

Helpful Hint: Get the word out about your brand. If customers know you and trust you, they might try you when they’re in the market.

Strategic challenge #6: Improving the quality of your data

  • Only 32% of our marketers said improving their customer intel was a #1 goal
  • 54% of marketers said it was a #1 challenge

A big turnoff is impersonal content. Know your people: their likes, styles, behavior, genders, and names.

Helpful Hint: If you’re looking for good data, simply design your sign-up forms to capture the info you want, like their date of birth. Then send them an exclusive offer.

Strategic challenge #7: Reducing marketing costs

  • 17% of marketers felt that lowering costs was the #1 goal
  • 20% of marketers felt that it was their #1 challenge

When choosing a tool to get the best value for your money, look for flexibility, customization, personalization, and integrations.

Fun Fact: 40% of marketers surveyed have less than $50,000 per year to spend on marketing technology—so look for a great stack with only the features you need.

Wrap up

Knowing the challenges that other marketers face is vital in creating an email marketing strategy.

Remember, not all email marketing challenges are the same, so using these tips is a great starting point, but pay close attention to your own needs as your strategy continues to evolve.

Send emails that your customers simply can’t ignore. Get the full Campaign Monitor insights report, Email Marketing Strategy Challenges of the Modern Marketers.

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