If you rely on email marketing, you wouldn’t want your emails to go straight into your customers’ trash folder. However, if you’re not doing email marketing correctly, your emails may land exactly in that folder.
Marketo, a company that offers engagement marketing software and solutions, talks about the eight common email marketing mistakes. By recognizing these potential mistakes, you can take extra precautions and implement best practices to make your next email campaign the best it can be.
Mistake #1: Vague Subject Lines
Email marketers often try to use witty or clever subject lines to get clicks. However, subject lines that are clear with no clickbait or ambiguous tricks receive 541 percent more clicks. Here are two examples to give you a better idea of clear and unclear subject lines:
Unclear Subject Line: “It’s finally here!”
Clear Subject Line: “5 Best Practices for Email Marketing Campaigns.”
With the unclear subject line, recipients have no idea what “it” refers to. Sure, it may peak their curiosity and prompt them to open the email, but more likely than not, they’re going to be annoyed that you tried to outsmart them with a clever subject line. The clear subject line, on the other hand, clearly describes what recipients can expect to see in your email.
Marketo suggests the following best practices to avoid vague subject headlines:
- Tell your recipients exactly what they’ll get after opening the email.
- Include the most important words or numbers, such as “Tips” or “Tricks.”
- Focus on all metrics, not just open rate. The best subject line in the world is worthless if it doesn’t result in click throughs.
- When in doubt, test it out.
Mistake #2: Bad Sender Reputation
Big email service providers like Gmail consider these several factors when determining whether incoming mail is spam, promotional junk mail, or good-quality emails recipients want to read:
- Continuously opened emails
- Unique clicks within an email
- Multiple clicks within an email
- Frequency of overall engagement
To pass spam filters unscathed, Marketo recommends keeping your sender reputation pristine. Factors that influence your reputation include subscriber engagements such as opened emails and clicks; positive and negative engagement signals, hard bounces, placement on a blacklist, and spam complaints. You need to diligently maintain high engagement and prevent negative or low engagement levels to pass spam filters. To do so, you must follow these best practices recommended by Marketo:
- Use automated cleaning campaigns to prevent high bounce rates, which lower deliverability and reputation.
- Aim for a good sender reputation to maintain a good inboxing rate.
- Manage soft bounces, role accounts, and unengaged subscribers.
Mistake #3: Failure to Measure Email Inboxing
One in five emails go to recipients’ junk or spam folders, hard bounce, soft bounce, or don’t even deliver, according to Marketo’s findings. If you’re using campaign metrics that measure emails that are sent, delivered, hard bounced, or soft bounced, you’re not being informed about which emails are going to spam or junk folders because those emails are still considered sent or delivered. If your metrics indicate that nearly 100 percent of your emails were delivered, it could still be that only half didn’t go to spam or junk, and half were actually viewed by the recipient.
To avoid this issue and to receive metrics that accurately portray your emails’ delivery, use measurement tools that provide granular metrics of deliverability performance. You want a tool that shows you inbox placement, sender reputation, spam analysis, and design analysis. Marketo suggests the following best practices to avoid failure to measure email inboxing:
- Introduce bounce management campaigns to improve inboxing rates across ISPs.
- Measure inboxing across ISPs to help mitigate issues with specific ISPs.
- Analyze emails for common spam triggers, whether it’s your copy, images, or HTML.
Mistake #4: No Engagement Segmentation
When you send an email to all of your subscribers, chances are only a small percentage will engage with the email. As a result, ISPs are not as likely to deliver your emails to recipients’ primary inboxes.
To avoid this issue, stagger your sends. To do this, simply send your email to the most engaged subscribers in your database first. After 30 minutes, send the email to the unengaged subscribers. Marketo explains that the ISP will identify the first round of emails’ high engagement levels, which improves your reputation score. As a result, it’s more likely that your second round of emails will reach the main inboxes of your recipients.
Marketo says you can also dedicate separate IP addresses to your email marketing campaigns to improve your reputation score. You can organize them, for example, by subscriber importance, engaged subscribers, and purpose of emails.
Marketo suggests the following best practices to avoid no engagement segmentation:
- Consider separating your email campaigns by engagement levels if you are a high-volume sender.
- Stagger email campaigns by engagement to increase email inboxing.
- Help mitigate business risk by segmenting IP addresses for engagement.
Mistake #5: No Re-Engagement Strategy
Your campaign’s definition of engagement may vary, depending on how often you send emails. When a subscriber’s engagement falls below your campaign’s definition of high engagement, you should have a strategy for re-engaging that subscriber, according to Marketo.
Experian found that re-engagement strategies can deliver 14 times the lift in email-influenced revenue. Not only will these types of strategies help you re-ignite existing customers’ interest in your business, but it will also help you clean up your email lists if you discover customers who aren’t engaging anymore.
Marketo recommends running a reactivation campaign more than once to either spark renewed interest or to give subscribers the opportunity to opt out of your email list. Such an email might contain a heading such as “We Really Miss Hearing From You!” Don’t send a reactivation email only once because you never know when one more email might make all the difference.
Marketo suggests the following best practices for creating a re-engagement strategy:
- Use reactivation campaigns to identify those who still want to hear from you and those who don’t.
- Build out a series of reactivation emails, not just a single email.
Mistake #6: Using Image-Based CTA Buttons
Marketo says using an image-based call-to-action (CTA) button created with HTML and CSS code results in higher open, click-through, and click-to-open rates. Having a CTA coded this way, rather than using a JPEG, ensures that recipients will see the button as the desired image rather than a placeholder that appears if a JPEG doesn’t load properly. Your emails will subsequently look more polished and appealing, encouraging recipients to click your CTA. When using image-based CTA buttons, use an HTML button instead of an image button, which renders when the email hits the inbox.
Mistake #7: No Mobile Optimization
These days, everyone uses their mobile devices to view their emails. Sometimes a recipient will view an email on one device, then complete a purchase on another. According to Marketo, 65 percent of users start a purchase on their smartphone, 25 percent start on a PC or laptop, and 11 percent start on a tablet. If your emails are not optimized for mobile, your campaign will ultimately suffer the consequences.
The key is to make your emails accommodate every screen size. To do this, you should use media queries, a CSS code that determines the screen size where the email displays. The code then adjusts the email to the correct size accordingly.
Marketo also recommends using email templates that are optimized for mobile, using larger font sizes for mobile screens, and placing the CTA at the top so recipients don’t have to scroll down to find it.
Marketo suggests the following best practices for optimizing for mobile:
- Prioritize mobile responsiveness.
- Think beyond the copy and images. The template is a vehicle to deliver the email results you hope to achieve.
Mistake #8: Bad Testing Decisions
Testing is always a wise decision when it comes to any type of advertising campaign. However, it is possible to make bad testing decisions. You don’t want to unnecessarily spend time on tests that don’t generate statistically significant findings. The following are examples of bad testing decisions:
- Sending emails at random times. When A/B testing, Marketo says you should send each test email at the same time. A slight time difference could affect the results and produce inaccurate findings.
- Using a small sample size. A small sample size can generate deceivingly desirable results. Increase your size and run your test 2 to 3 times to ensure accurate results.
- Using too many variables. Testing too many variables (e.g. copy, images, CTAs) at a time makes it difficult to identify individual declines or improvements for each variable. You should isolate each variable in its own test.
Marketo suggests the following best practices to avoid making bad testing decisions:
- Normalize test send times.
- Work with a large enough sample size and test more than once to ensure statistical significance.
- Isolate tests to a single variable for clean testing.
Before sending your emails to your customers, look at your email strategy and make sure you’re not making any of the aforementioned mistakes. As Marketo points out, the biggest mistake you can make is ignoring these big email marketing mistakes. Make yourself a guide or a checklist, if it helps. Then make the best email campaign out there.