Don’t Trip On These Email Marketing Pitfalls

By Heike Young

Email marketing is the bee’s knees. Need proof?

  • 80% of marketers agree that email is core to their business.
  • 79% of marketers say email is directly generating ROI this year, versus 54% who agreed in 2015.
  • Among those who agree email is core to their business, nearly half (49%) say email is directly linked to their business’ primary revenue source — a notable jump from the 20% of marketers who said the same in 2015.

This is all according to our newest State of Marketing research.

Despite email marketing’s prevalence and known ROI, many marketers still aren’t measuring it correctly and tying it to revenue.

This week, Holly Wright, Email Marketing Manager at Phoenix Direct, joins the Marketing Cloudcast to share some common pitfalls of email marketing, especially around measurement.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, the Marketing Cloudcast is the marketing podcast from Salesforce. Check it out on iTunes or Stitcher.

In this episode, Holly shows us how to be better measurers of our email performance, showing us which metrics to avoid and which to measure consistently. She also explains how to run a true A/B test, best practices for growing email subscribers, and why email absolutely shouldn’t live in a silo.

Take a listen here:

We learned a lot about email in our conversation with Holly. You should subscribe for the full episode, but here were a few top takeaways.

Stop Measuring Too Frequently

“Stop getting too obsessed about one-off metrics with every single blast you do. You may wonder, ‘Why is this click rate .1% lower than this other one? What’s the open rate on this one message versus this other one?’ Unless you have a very large list, getting hung up on how every individual blast does can really just slow you down and distract you.”

“If you have a sound branding and communications strategy and you’re following it consistently, you can feel more confident looking at more trends over time. We do look at open rates, click rates, and unsubscribe rates, but look for bigger pictures and patterns, and where our programs are headed.”

“If an unsubscribe rate for a single message is slightly higher than the one before it, don’t worry too much about that. Do worry if you’re seeing, for a given month, that unsubscribe rate is ticking upward. Look for more ongoing trends like that.”

The top email metric we look at is revenue: how much revenue did we generate this month, or this week, or from this campaign or for this ongoing program, like an abandoned cart series.”

Don’t Neglect Google Analytics

Email marketers: make sure you’ve got your Google Analytics set up correctly, so that when emails are feeding traffic to your website, you’re tracking that. Otherwise you’re flying blind if you can’t tell what your email traffic is doing once they get to your website or after they click through the email.”

Get Advanced with Personalization

“Personalization is one of the best things you can invest in for your email marketing program. It involves is getting the right data into your email service provider so that you can segment and trigger different activities.”

“Some of the personalization that we’ve done for our clients includes abandoned cart emails where we populate the email with the products that they left in their cart. That’s a whole series, so if they haven’t completed their purchase, we’ll send additional emails, but only if their cart is still active and they still haven’t checked out. And then down the line we offer an incentive to complete that purchase.”

Encourage that First Purchase

“Don’t forget a ‘Take the Leap’ email. We’ll say, ‘We’ve noticed you’ve been opening our emails, but you haven’t bought anything yet.’ And so we offer them an incentive like, ‘Fifty dollars off your purchase of $250,’ or, ‘Free shipping and $25 off any order.’ Get them to make their first purchase. Once they get the merchandise in their hands, they’ll be happy.”

Avoid A/B Testing the Wrong Things

“With A/B testing, be sure you’re testing the most strategic and longest-lasting elements of your emails. Just a one-off test of this subject line vs another one is fine. But what did you really learn from that? Because it was just one subject line, it might not be a repeatable tactic. If we’re going to do an A/B test, let’s try to design something over the course of several campaigns or several weeks to make sure that we have a statistically significant winner.”

“The best automation still can’t take the place of savvy digital marketing professionals and the thought that we give to design those programs. An automated program is really only as good as the person who designed it. It takes a human to think about what kind of messaging is going to resonate with another person—what kind of creative, photography, fonts, and branding. It takes a human touch to communicate with humans. You can’t just put your email program on autopilot yet.

Sound intriguing? Get the low-down on email marketing in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. Join the thousands of smart marketers who already subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

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Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.