Email is still the most popular and potentially lucrative tool in cyberspace. It retains its lead in every age group over social media networks in Canada, which is significant considering Canada leads the World in social media usage. Smart marketers continue to focus on email as a marketing tool, but two recent reports agree that they’re facing some huge challenges.
Canada’s Inbox Marketer has released a whitepaper, North American Email Marketing Trends. The whitepaper identifies major challenges facing email marketers. It includes statistics from Inbox Marketer’s clients, which covers Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) data across a variety of sectors. We’ve combined this information with data from a newly released Email Marketing Benchmark Report from Ascend2. The Ascend2 benchmark data was collected via a survey of 518 sales and marketing professionals.
The Big 5 Challenges Facing Email Marketers
1. Growing Subscriber Lists
Mailing list growth is a mufti-faceted challenge. Marketers have to find new subscribers and reduce unsubscribes to grow their mailing list, while also competing for the recipient’s (or potential recipient’s) attention.
It helps to know why people subscribed to your email list in the first place. Did you specify that you would send special offers or just a newsletter? What does your sign-up form promise?
Top Reasons Canadians Subscribe to Brand Emails:
- 63% subscribe for discounts
- 58% subscribe to receive a freebie or enter a contest
- 48% want to know about the latest products and services
- 39% want to receive advanced notice of new products or future releases
- 36% sign up because they deal with the company or brand regularly
- 34% hand over their eMail address to access exclusive content
- 32% want to receive content about their personal interests
- 18% want to receive company news
- 15% prefer eMail as a way to “keep my finger on the pulse” of the brand/company
- 13% subscribed because someone recommended they do so
- 10% want others to know they support the company
- 6% want to be affiliated with the product or brand because it’s trendy
Today’s email, like all social marketing formats, should revolve around what the subscriber wants. Your challenge is to find creative ways to work your goals into their desires. This often necessitates brilliant use of content. Ascend2 reports, “Of the top three email tactics used, only one is considered most effective by a majority of marketers, creating relevant and compelling content.” Content is also named as the most difficult to execute by 40% of those surveyed. That suggests email is yet another marketing outlet that now requires writing talent as well as marketing knowledge.
To reduce unsubscribes, check out our article 10 Ways to Reduce Newsletter Unsubscribe Rates.
2. Dysfunctional or deficient Email Software
Email marketers are desperately seeking email campaign management tools that address their biggest challenges. The most significant improvement sought by 40% of those surveyed by Ascend2 is improved analytics and data visualization. While a certain amount of statistical knowledge is necessary in today’s marketing world, most marketers struggle with it.
3. Mobile Device Compatibility
65% of Canadian SmartPhone users say they use it to check their email a minimum of once per day. With the overwhelming penetration of mobile devices, it has become impossible to ignore their needs. In 2013, marketers began to adapt their emails to mobile-friendly formats. This evolving environment demands constant tweaking and adaptation, to a point where marketers are never really done with it.
Inbox Marketer states, “As of Q4 2013 over 55% of all email opens are from a smartphone or tablet. Email marketers have had to shift their strategies and tactics to a ‘mobile-first’ mentality.”
The good news is that email software and service providers are aware of this concern. They include mobile-friendly templates that you can use for either marketing messages or newsletters. If your email software isn’t keeping up with this trend, it’s time to move your list to one that does.
Other mobile-friendly practices include:
- Be concise and brief both in the body and in the subject line
- Keep the email width under 600 pixels
- Use reasonably large fonts
- Make buttons and menus relatively large so they’re easy to click on. For the same reason, ensure there is enough line space between links.
- One column is preferred
4. Inactive Subscribers
Subscribers who have not opened your emails in the past six months are considered inactive. It’s difficult to determine open rates, however, since a portion of your subscribers may open the email without loading the images used to track it. Click rates are the more important statistic, telling us the email has not only been opened, but it actually engaged the recipient.
93% of online Canadian consumers have subscribed to a brand email list at some time. The average Canadian subscribes to 13 email lists at the same time. Professionals and entrepreneurs subscribe to significantly more than that. From the subject line to the frequency emails are sent, you have to constantly work to keep your space in their inbox and grab their attention.
Most importantly, you must never be perceived as abusing the privilege. For example, it amazes me how many marketing gurus still suggest sending multiple emails to sell a product. That’s old school marketing based on the offline theory that it takes multiple views before a customer buys. Use some creativity for repeat exposure. Offline that can mean a billboard, radio spot and TV commercial. Online it would mean newsletter, blog and social media. Slamming inboxes with repeated sales pitches is the quickest way to make subscribers ignore you or unsubscribe.
“Typically 40% of Inbox Marketer’s clients’ email base is classified as Inactive” their report notes. “These Inactives can have an impact on your overall email metrics, but they may also be an unmined segment rich with potential revenue. Email marketers should design campaigns targeted at these Inactives, focusing on reactivating and reengaging them.”
5. Increased Security
The goal of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) legislation is to reduce spam while encouraging responsible marketing practices. Bennet Jones launched a website to assist marketers with compliance.
If you need some email marketing direction, there has been a couple of good books published recently. One is Email Marketing Rules: How to Wear a White Hat, Shoot Straight, and Win Hearts by Chad White and Jay Baer. Another is Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority and Generate More Sales with Email Marketing by Ian Brodie.
What are your biggest email marketing challenges? Please share them in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Are the Affiliate Gurus Wrong About E-Mail Marketing?
What are Pro Canadian Marketers up to in 2013/2014?
Mobile Surpasses PC Use and Video Rules in Canada (Statistics)
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