5 Silent Killers of Your Email Marketing
Your email marketing may have done well in the past… but you are seeing troubling trends in declining metrics. There’s no immediately obvious cause – you haven’t changed anything recently. Well, chances are the downturn is caused by one or more of the following 5 silent killers of your email marketing.
1. List Attrition & Fatigue
List attrition is the measure of how many contacts fall off of your email list through unsubscribing, complaining, or hard bouncing. If you are acquiring new email subscribers at a steady rate, you may not have paid much attention to your attrition rates. However, email list growth is governed both by how many contacts you acquire, and how many contacts you lose. If you are funneling many people into a leaky bucket, your list growth rates will always be sub-optimal, even negative.
That’s why it’s important to periodically evaluate your email list attrition metrics: opt-outs, hard bounces, and spam complaints. If your attrition rates are rising, chances are you are making other mistakes in your email program, such as sending too many emails, not sending relevant messages, not properly alerting people you are opting them in, or getting poorer quality contacts from your acquisition process.
List fatigue is the gradual degradation of your contact list’s overall engagement with your emails. It can be seen in decreasing open and click rates, as well as in a growing ratio of inactive contacts as a portion of your list.
List fatigue is the sister of list attrition, and both work deviously together to gradually erode the effectiveness of your email list. Thus, you should always keep an eye on these twins and curb their growth early on.
2. Discount Training
Every time you send out that 15% off promotion, you get a huge influx of sales. Yeah, it’s a wonderfully effective discount promotion. In fact, it’s so effective that you decide to include it much more often. Now every other email that goes out includes the same offer. And it’s included in your shopping cart abandonment, welcome, and post-purchase emails too.
Slowly, the emails start performing worse. The metrics are sliding. What do you do now?
Discount training is something even many big brands are guilty of. There’s no question discounted sales are effective in the short term to garner purchases. However, in the medium and long term, too many sale-driven emails (especially pushing the same or similar offers) will train your subscribers to expect the discount. This means that not only will they purchase less in the interim between sales, but they will also purchase less during the actual sale due to desensitization… After all, it’s nothing special and it will come along again soon enough.
We’re not telling you not to organize sales, but rather to boost revenue through more precise targeting and relevance, instead of taking the easy, short-term route of blasting out another sale. We all know competing purely on pricing is a dangerous game, so keep your mind towards not training your contacts to only be discount shoppers; you’ll preserve margins, brand perception, and customer enthusiasm much better in the long run.
Let’s admit it, if you have been in the email marketing game for any amount of time, you’ve probably sent out an email that contained one of the following mistakes:
- Broken link
- Broken image
- Grammatical error
- Incorrect information
- Rendering problem in certain email clients
To be fair, these are usually obvious, one-time mistakes that are immediately corrected for the next email deployment. However, there’s a chance that these mistakes may be recurring. If there is not a thorough quality assurance process in place for each email deployment, then chances are mistakes will keep creeping up in your emails.
For reused elements in your email templates, such as headers and footers, you may have broken links that are propagated across many email sends. For example, if a link to a particular category page on your site has changed, and you didn’t change that link in your email header… well, you’ll have a broken link in all of the emails which use that template. This is why it’s important to check every link in each email prior to deployment.
It makes sense to do a periodic audit of your email templates. You may find some outdated information, such as company phone number, address, social media links, logos, or other elements. This is especially important if you have multiple automated emails, as it’s easy to forget about those emails. They oftentimes may contain an outdated design, which hurts your brand consistency.
The best way to prevent mistakes in emails is to have a thorough pre-deployment QA process, as well as a periodic audit of existing emails.
4. Auto-Generated Welcome & Transactional Emails
Do you know where your welcome and transactional emails are sending out of right now? If not, then there’s a good chance they are sub-optimal. Oftentimes your eCommerce platform has its own system for sending out automatic order confirmations, shipping confirmations, and welcome emails. These emails are usually not well-constructed and carry minimum branding and up/cross-selling CTAs.
Also, it’s a good idea to make sure you are not doubling up sending welcome emails or transactional emails.
5. Deliverability Problems
Deliverability problems can break even the most thoughtful email marketing program. After all, if your emails are not being delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes, they never get a chance of being read… no matter how brilliant your copywriting, design, and offer.
Deliverability is one of those things you need to monitor on a regular basis. The Gods of Deliverability (ahem, ISPs, ahem) are fickle and a single spam trap can ruin your day.
If you are seeing unexplainable drops in your engagement metrics, take a moment and re-benchmark your deliverability. Chances are you are experiencing some inboxing issues.
If you are not following good list and sending practices, knowingly or unknowingly, you risk degrading your sender reputation. This will hurt your deliverability over time. This can be hard to recover from, as sender reputation, like real-life reputation, takes a long time to build and a short time to destroy.