Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

13 Reasons Why Content Marketers Fall Short on their Email Marketing

At ReferralCandy, we understand content marketing is important — and powerful. Our friends at CampaignMonitor know email marketing, and they have put some thought into wondering why content marketers often overlook email.

Despite the fact that email marketing consistently produces the best ROI compared to any other channel, year-after-year, most content marketers aren’t making the most of it.

why email marketing not working

For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 of ROI. Via CampaignMonitor

While the understanding of how other channels work has evolved over time, many marketers continue using the same “best practices” from a decade ago. That means making the same email marketing mistakes over and over

In short, they type up one message and send it to their entire list.

This just doesn’t work anymore.

We’ve discovered the 13 most common reasons content marketers struggle with what should be their favorite channel. Check to see if any of the following sound familiar.

13 Reasons Why Your Email Marketing May Be Falling Short

1. Sending Emails That Aren’t Mobile-Friendly

Everyone knows that mobile-friendly sites are now the standard. If your site doesn’t display well on a mobile device, there’s no point. Google’s algorithm only considers sites through their mobile versions.

However, the same rule should apply to your emails as well. 53% of recipients open emails on mobile devices. So, if your emails aren’t made with mobile-friendly templates, you’re most likely losing at least half your list right away.

Therefore, if you’re not happy with your open and/or conversion rates, and you’re not using mobile-friendly templates, that’s an incredibly easy solution that could literally double both those metrics.

2. Using Weak or Confusing Calls-to-Action

A clear, bold Call-to-Action (CTA) that tells the recipient exactly what you want them to do is absolutely essential for increasing conversion rates.

Unfortunately, we’ve found that most marketers make two mistakes.

The first is they opt for a simple text link. This method’s results fall far short of those who use a call-to-action button. We found that, when marketers use a call-to-action button, their conversion rates increase 28%.

The second mistake is simply using weak, vague, and bland language. How do you call your recipients to action? Are you crystal-clear with your request? Do you use bold, strong, inspiring language?

What makes an effective CTA will depend on your audience, but rest assured that the combination of action-oriented words and clear directions will always work best.

3. Making It Difficult to Sign Up for Their Newsletter

Not seeing a lot of interest in your newsletter?

The two biggest mistakes we’ve found marketers making are, fortunately, incredibly easy to fix.

First, your entry form should be easy to find. If it’s sitting at the bottom of your site or only exists on some pages, it should come as no surprise that people aren’t filling it out. They can’t even locate it.

The second unnecessary hurdle is simply including more than two fields. All you really need is their email address. Aside from that and asking for their name, you risk losing people who don’t want to give you further information.

Also, if you have prospects who live in the EU, you must abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

4. Sticking to Copy – and only Copy

Every good email requires strong email copy.

However, the best email campaigns don’t stop there.

Instead, they also use interactive content like videos and GIFs.

According to the Email Institute, GIFs can improve click-through rates (CTR) by 26% all by themselves. Wistia reports that videos have a similar effect, boosting click through rates by 22%.

Caught your eye? Good writing for the internet uses images to break up text in email and blog articles

5. Only Using Original Content

Original content is definitely important. Among other things, it helps position your company as an authority, a reliable source of original information recipients can’t find anywhere else.

However, most prospects crave curated content, as well. They don’t have time to constantly find the best sources of information, so you can do them a huge favour by taking on that responsibility yourself.

The Search Agency recommends that your ratio of original-to-curated content should be somewhere between 25/75 and 50/50. It will depend on your audience. The point is that relying solely on your own original content is a mistake.

6. Foregoing Dynamic Content

Don’t forget about dynamic content, either.

If you’d like to see a boost to your click-through rates of 20%, EmailMonks reports Dynamic Content is the solution.

As the name suggests dynamic content is content that adjusts dynamically based on the recipient. Whole sections can change to ensure your message immediately becomes more relevant to different segments.

7. Forgetting to Include Images

Yet another form of content you should be including in every single one of your messages is images.

When Pinpointe looked into how images impact emails, the answer was simple: as 65% of people are visual learners, leaving out images means potentially leaving out these subscribers, too.

For best results, though, don’t stop at a single image. Just like with blog posts, images help break up longer text. So, unless your message is fewer than 300 words, think about using at least two in your message.

really good emails - personalised and visual content

Great examples: visually appealing and personalised emails from Really Good Emails

8. Lacking Personalization

Personalization is using the information and data you have about a subscriber to target your email at them on an individual level. The ideal effect is to make it seem as though someone at your company wrote just one email and wrote it right to that person.

Not surprisingly, subscribers love personalization.

Take it from Econsultancy, which reports that 74% of consumers want companies to treat them as individuals, not just part of a segment.

That doesn’t mean segmentation is dead – far from it. It just means that segmentation without personalization will always produce limited results.

Read More: 5 ways to use personalisation to engage your customers

9. Ignoring the Importance of a Sender Score

Without a sufficient sender score, all of your other email-marketing efforts will go to waste. That’s because email providers will keep your messages from making it to their users.

As we covered above, abiding by the GDPR is a step in the right direction.

However, if you haven’t checked your sender score before, it might be best to start there. This will show you your:

  • Complaint Rate
  • Unknown User Rate
  • Spam Traits

10. Getting Flagged as Spam

Speaking of which, if your email address gets flagged as spam by an email provider, you’re in trouble. Once you wear that scarlet letter, it’s extremely difficult to shed it.

The best way to avoid this problem is by only ever sending emails to people who have opted in for them (and opted in twice for EU members) and then sending a welcome email to ensure they want to receive more.

11. Assuming They Know Their Audience

You probably know a great deal about your target market in terms of what they want from your company.

However, that’s not the same as understanding what they want from your email marketing content.

Remember, it’s not just about the information you share. It’s also about how you share it. Test different formats for your emails to find which ones your list likes most.

12. Neglecting A/B Testing

The best way to do this is with A/B testing.

It’s deceptively simple to do, considering how powerful it can be.

All you do is send out the exact same email to two different lists in the same segment, but change one element.

So, for example, if you’re curious about which format your recipients like best, you could take the same information, but send it to one list as a “how-to” guide and another as an infographic. You can even differentiate these two emails in the subject line.

This way, you’ll test both open rates and click-through rates to find which versions your recipients prefer.

Ongoing A/B testing will help you consistently improve everything about your email campaigns, from the formats you use to how many pictures you include to the CTAs.

Over time, you’ll see significant improvements, but you’ll never know about them unless you follow the last reason we see so many content marketers fall short with their emails.

13. Never Measuring Their Results Over Time

If you’re doing all of the above – and doing it right – then you should see a noticeable improvement in your email campaigns over time. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how susceptible your market tends to be to emails. Some sort of improvement should emerge over time.

Check for this by going back and measuring your important analytics:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Unsubscribes

Don’t get complacent just because your campaign is producing sufficient conversions. The idea is to continue seeing more and more revenue. By regularly measuring your results, you’ll get a better understanding for what’s working and what’s not.

Most importantly, you have to monitor your end-of-funnel conversions. All of those other metrics could improve without your conversions budging a bit. The problem might actually be something outside of your campaigns, but you’ll never know if you don’t regularly monitor your conversion rate.

* * *

Stop Making These 13 Email Marketing Mistakes: Pick a Factor to Improve and Start Right Away

Hopefully, your current email-marketing efforts aren’t falling short for all 13 of the reasons we mentioned above.

However, there may still be a number you need to address.

Don’t get overwhelmed if it’s a large one. Start where you can and then move on to the next. Over time, you’ll see consistent improvements in your overall results – especially if you remember to go back and measure them.


lane harbin writes for campaignmonitor and referralcandyLane Harbin is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor.

Campaign Monitor is an easy-to-use email marketing tool that allows every marketer to send targeted newsletters to grow their business. With beautiful templates, a drag-and-drop interface and engagement-based segmentation, Campaign Monitor has helped more than 200,000 growing businesses take their email marketing to the next level.

Raúl Galera

Raúl is ReferralCandy's partner manager.