What To Do When Nothing Seems To Be Working
Are you frustrated with your email marketing? You are not alone, and all you need to solve this dilemma is a well-structured email marketing checklist. I've had a lot of listeners reach out to express frustration as it relates to feeling like their strategies are not working, no matter what they do. In this episode, I share my own go-to checklist that will provide some action items to help get your email marketing back on track.
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What To Do When Nothing Seems To Be Working
I have had several readers reach out after reading Episode 10 with Jen Burris to tell me how they are taking a different approach to their email and seeing immediate results. One eCom jewelry company incorporated a how-to accessorize your date night look with some style guides and saw a 300% increase in their engagement as well as a best performer and revenue.
It has been so great to see but this has also been a week where I have had a bunch of folks reaching out asking me for help. Nothing seems to be working, and they are starting to feel like everything is falling apart. If you were at that point or simply want to be prepared if this should happen, we are going to chat about what to do when nothing seems to be working. We are going to run through my checklist from the top and see if we can't figure out some solves if you are feeling this way.
First things first, let's make sure your emails are getting to your recipients. We are going to have a deliverability chat, and I know it's a techie and a painful one but if you are in charge of your email marketing success, you have to pay attention. What determines when an email hits an inbox? In the past, the only way to make sure the filters didn't mark your emails as spam was to make sure that the content of your writing wasn't spammy.
Spam filters searched for certain flagged words and language, and then they scored your email based on how many of those phrases your emails contained. If your spam score was low, your email went into the inbox but if it were high, it would never make it in. The same factor still applies nowadays, except email providers search for spam using even more advanced methods.
A high-quality email list means reduced spam complaints, which will tell your provider to keep your emails out of spam folders.
An email provider will look at open rates and replies to decide whether or not to let your email into the recipient's inbox. There's good and bad to this. The good news is that you can use a tool like GlockApps to check the spam score of your email before you even send it out. The bad news is that if a filter does send your email to spam, it may never get out.
Gmail automatically deletes emails that have been in the spam folder for more than 30 days. If a user never checks their Spam folder, your email will go there to die, rest in peace. If a user does check their spam folder, they've got the option to mark your email as not spam, and that means you shouldn't give up hope. The best thing to do is make sure that your email doesn't end up in the Spam folder in the first place.
Now that we know that email providers are sticklers when it comes to marking content as spam let's take a look at the common kinds of spam filters and what triggers them. One thing to note is that Gmail is the second most popular email client, and Gmail Spam filters, along with pretty much every other email provider, spam filters can be pretty intense. For example, if a user enables blatant blocking, Gmail will bounce or delete an email before it ever reaches the user's inbox.
This happens with the most obvious types of spam emails. A bulk email filter will filter the rest of the spam that makes it into the email server. From there, each user has the option to adjust for other filters to mark spam according to their selections and preferences, and that's the tip of the iceberg. Users can also set up their own spam filters if they want to.
How can you escape being locked in the Spam folder with only a terrible email ROI to show for it? There are a lot of ways. The first one is to use merge tags to help it seem like you know the person receiving the email. You can also ask for all email recipients to add your email address to their address book. Adding at the bottom of an email, adding us to your address book could be a quick solution.
It's also important to note that your IP address can affect the spam filters. Some spam filters will flag email campaigns if they have received spam emails from the IP address in the past. That's where automated tools like Mailchimp and Klaviyo are a huge help. They will deliver emails through their servers, not your own. These tools also come with email templates, so you won't have to code your own campaigns.
Note that incorrect coding or code that comes out of Microsoft Word can trigger spam filters also. Since open and reply rates can alter spam filters, it's important to test your emails before running a full campaign. A/B testing is also available in most email automation tools. Design the different versions you want to test right in the software, and you will be able to track the metric of your choice for each campaign.
Anti-spam efforts from your email provider might seem like they don't want your emails to succeed but they are helpful because you will have less competition if you format your emails to make it to your reader’s inboxes. Now that you have the tips to avoid spam filters, how can you correct your deliverability issues at their core?
Business owners usually think that they know what their clients need to hear because they are revenue-driven. That results in a lot of spammy sales emails.
The first one is to make your email list a great one. A high-quality email list means reduced spam complaints, which will tell your provider to keep your emails out of Spam folders. Also, you will want to lower your image counts. Images are great but don't get carried away. Spam filters often flag emails with a small amount of copy but a large number of images. If you aren't careful, your delivery rate will suffer greatly here.
Another one is you will want to authenticate your emails and use a reply-to address. If you are using an email marketing tool like Campaign Monitor or Klaviyo, you can authenticate emails to send from your own domain. Email providers love these authenticated domains. They prove that you're a real company running real email campaigns. Also, using a reply-to address will provide the same result. Google and Outlook especially love seeing emails that have received responses because people usually don't respond to spammers. They ignore Spam emails or delete them. This is a great way to show the email service provider that you are legit and people connect with you.
Another one, consider using a double opt-in. It means that once a person signs up for your email list, they will have to confirm their subscription in an email to receive more. Single opt-in refers to a signup form where a user has only entered their email address one time to receive emails but an overwhelmingly 79% of initial subscription emails are double opt-in. With this setup, users will only be added to your email list after they confirm their subscription by clicking a button or a link in your initial email. This strategy is popular for a good reason. It helps protect your email list from spambots and people who don't want to see your content, meaning that fewer people will mark your emails as Spam.
Lastly, think about segmenting your lists. Instead of sending out emails to every person on your subscriber list, try segmenting your list. In that way, you can target readers with the right kinds of emails that they will be interested in. Now that you have checked your deliverability health, what if there is no improvement? Let's run through another few things and offer some tips to fix them.
First, you are hitting your target with the wrong messages. We always think as business owners that we know what our users need to hear because we are very revenue-driven. That results in a lot of spammy sales emails. Did you know that I’ve got eight emails from DLX, the men's clothing store? While I shop for my husband there, what is one person supposed to do with eight promotional emails?
For me, this is not the right message, especially since I am a gifter. Ideally, for me, they should be sending me gifting emails at key times, not sales eight times a week. I now ignore these and immediately delete them. I know that I'm not alone here. The point here is that even sending out a survey to your audience to ask them what they want to hear about and how often they want to hear from you will pay you back. I promise. Try it.
Another thing to consider is your templates might need some TLC. Everyone has their brand, their look, and feel their perfect email. Here's the thing. There is a ton of user psychology that goes into a well-developed email. We have to worry about the overall user experience but deeper, we have to worry about things like eye path, which is the natural way users read, colors working together, font sizes, image loading, mobile, etc.
There is a whole lot of things that go into a winning template. If you have some templates you simply adore but your email is still not working, it may be time to hunker down and commit to a testing plan. In this case, your favorite email template would be your control. In your testing variations, you are working on improving the experience for your user, reducing friction. Give it a go. The only thing you will learn is you will learn. It's great. That's the only thing. You might as well test if you can.
Create your goals before starting your programs so that you aren't just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.
Another thing to consider is you don't have a message at all. The problem we are talking about here is when you have so many ideas crammed into one email that the reader can't understand what you want them to do. Your emails should be succinct and clear, include a call to action the reader knows what they should do, and don't clutter it up with strenuous information. One other thing to note here, your subject lines need to deliver. If your subject line is misaligned with the content inside the email, chances are you are not going to give a good vibe to your recipients. You are going to be giving them mixed messages, which will not end well for your email success.
Another thing to consider, you don't have the expertise you need. A big killer of email marketing is the lack of knowledge. For your marketing campaign to succeed, you need to understand how email marketing works and the features of a successful campaign. Sometimes it is helpful to get some help. Here you could ask for a copywriting expertise or template designer, not to mention if you are lacking a true email marketing strategy. This may pay you back to get an expert that can serve as a guide.
The last one to consider, which I mentioned above, is you aren’t targeting. As much of a broken record as this sounds, you may truly be in a hyper-segmentation phase. Your email campaign has to target people who are interested in what you have to say. If your emails are going out generally, you are not likely to get a lot of conversions, and you may get a reputation as a spam company. You can fix this by taking the time to divide your subscribers by interests, look at what they buy, when, consider feedback, and then target your emails strategically.
One amazing way to do this is if you have a product that you can capture those users and add them to a product-specific flow. Here's an example. If you are vital proteins, for instance, you may capture everyone that browses, abandons or purchases their neutral collagen peptides. They then move those users through a product-specific flow that starts to learn more about the lifestyle of their recipients and then branches out again to speak directly about correlating the product to that lifestyle.
When someone finally purchases, those folks get moved to a post-purchase flow, which reminds them to repurchase their collagen but also introduces them to new products. This works. When we start to send emails out constantly with the same product, ignoring the fact of these are leads or customers. Regardless of the fact that they have purchased the actual product you are promoting before we start to get a lot of ignoring and you've got to start targeting.
One thing I will add is don't give up. One of these things will help to move the needle but remember a couple more things. You need to understand why you are failing. Was it that you were not meeting your revenue goal or your engagement metrics? It's important to have created those goals before you start your programs so that you aren't throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.
If you don't have goals and you assume you are failing, stop for a second, grab some baseline data, and give yourself some goals, so you can truly understand how the program is stacking up to meet those goals. It may be time to revisit your marketing strategy as a whole. Perhaps email blasts and by the way, I hate this phrase. No matter how segmented, is not going to work for you any longer. I promise you if you are speaking to Gen Z, then this is a 911 fix.
You may need to start looking at incorporating more SMS, triggered flows or even some chatbot flows via Facebook. You've got to start thinking about your marketing strategy if you are still not finding any wins here. This was a meaty conversation. Please let me know if you have any questions by emailing me at Conversations@EmailGrowthSociety.com and until next time, happy emailing.