Email marketing has long been one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience, but there are now more obstacles to overcome.

Since Google decided to divide up Gmail accounts into ‘primary’, ‘promotions’ and ‘social’, it’s not only the dreaded spam folder marketers have to get around. However, the biggest barriers to success are caused by lack of knowledge or competent strategy on the marketer’s part.

If your email campaigns aren’t yielding the best results, take a look at these 7 common reasons:


1. You don’t know your audience well enough

You must understand who you’re targeting. No matter how amazing your product or service is, it’s imperative to understand what kind of people will want to buy your product or service, and what they really need. What preferences do they have? What demographic are you dealing with?

Before you launch any email campaign, you should carefully define your target audience. Consider these aspects:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Ethnic background

You should also consider their psychographics (personal characteristics):

  • Personality
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Interests
  • Behaviours
  • Lifestyle


If you can define your target market and get into the minds (and desires) of your potential customers, you’re much more likely to appeal to them in your communications.


2. You’re missing the personal touch

Competition for people’s attention has reached an unprecedented high. Inboxes are filling up with all manner of communications, with plenty of savvy marketers vying for a snippet of the readers’ attention.

If you approach your marketing in a general way, you’re going to be ignored. It is totally necessary to personalize your mails. That means addressing each person by name and speaking to them as if they are the only person you’re talking to.

It also means addressing their personal preferences. This is easier when you’ve segmented your email lists carefully – according to preference, interests and values. By collecting precise information via a sign-up form, you can capture the details you need.


3. You’re not sending emails at the right time

This is a biggie. If you’re sending emails at 2am (for example, if you’re out of the country, or emailing an audience in another country), the chances are your email will be drowned out by a load of others by the time your audience checks their inboxes.

Dependent on the locations of your target audiences, your emails should be scheduled to go out at a time when they’re awake and likely to have time for checking mails. 9am when they’re starting work is obviously a bad idea; weekends can work better – for some demographics.

Between 10:00 and 11:00 seems to be optimal timing, but check out these Mailchimp stats for specifics. By getting this right, it’s possible to improve your open rates by around 5%. It’s not much, but it’s something.


4. Your subject lines are not intriguing

Given that most office workers receive over 120 emails per day on average, you’ve got some serious competition. Naturally this means that if you don’t have an interesting subject line, your email will be ignored or even deleted.

Your subject line should create intrigue. It should also be personalized, brief, relevant, and catchy. Without clarity, people can’t be bothered to investigate. It should also be consistent, indicating what can be found inside the email. ‘Company news’ simply won’t cut it. If you really want to nail this, check out Hubspot’s advice on good subject lines.


5. Your emails are badly designed

Perhaps your emails are not aesthetically pleasing, or they’re laid out in such a way that the reader’s mind has work to do. Maybe your images leave a lot to be desired, or aren’t particularly relevant to the subject.

One easy way to counteract this is to enlist the help of a professional, such as Mailchimp. Their templates take the confusion out of email design, helping you to put campaigns together step-by-step.

Your emails should have a clear, unfussy logo and matching colour scheme. They should be laid out with plenty of space; your text should be to-the-point, and not bunched together in huge blocks. Your content should contain no tangents – stick to the points most relevant to your audience, using clear and concise wording.

Your photos should be of high quality, with a professional look. They should complement the points you’re making perfectly. You’ll also need to have call to action buttons to inspire readers to click through to your site. Don’t forget to optimize your emails for mobile devices, as 80.8% of people will be opening them this way, according to Hubspot.


6. You’re sending emails using the wrong name

It’s always a better idea to send emails using the personal touch. That means using a personal name rather than a company name. If your emails are coming from a sales@ or info@ address, people know they’re hearing from a company… nothing about that seems personal.

Your audience is more likely to trust a human name – it just seems more authentic somehow, so they’re more likely to open it. For example, johnclark@ is infinitely more appealing than an email from an admin department. Consistency helps too – don’t send it from a different name every week. You want people to recognise you every time.


7. You’re not utilizing analytics properly

Analytics will tell you just how successful your emails are. There are many analytics, but the most important ones are the open rate, the click-through rate, and the unsubscribe rate. Check out the analytics after each campaign – you should have this option with most service providers.

If people aren’t clicking through, for example, you know your content needs work. Perhaps the design is flawed. With analytics, you can see exactly when people unsubscribed, which may give you a clue as to what’s wrong.

Keeping an eye on your analytics can improve the overall success of your campaigns by indicating which areas need to be tweaked. They can help you make incremental improvements until you see a higher click-through rate and unsubscribe numbers dwindle. Using the above six tips, you can refine your communications and measure the success via the analytics panel.

To conclude, remember that email marketing campaigns are rarely totally successful right from the get-go. They take analysis, refinement and a personal approach. When you take care over the presentation, send them at the right times, and are careful not to bore people, you’re on the right track.