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What to Do When Your Email Marketing Campaign Is a Bust

For every $1 spent on email marketing there is a $44 return on investment according to this 2016 study, so it makes sense why marketers crown email the king of marketing strategies.

With a 4400% ROI, it likely won’t be difficult for marketers to convince stakeholders to allocate a large chunk of the budget toward email marketing efforts. In fact, it is estimated that 350 million dollars will be spent on email marketing in the U.S. in 2019 alone.

With so much promise, it seems like putting time and resources into an email marketing campaign will result in guaranteed stellar results for a business — but that’s sadly not always the case. Today, executing a successful email campaign isn’t as simple as a catchy subject line and high open rates.

If you find the results of an email marketing campaign to be underwhelming and far from the 4400% ROI you expected it can be easy to get discouraged. However, if each perceived failure is seen as a learning opportunity, your programs will inevitably find success. Here are a few thoughts to consider if your email marketing campaign doesn’t go as planned.

Failure is a learning opportunity

Before you spend money and resources elsewhere, it is important to conduct a post-mortem to understand where the campaign went wrong. Is it possible you targeted the wrong audience? Maybe the subject line was insufficient? Or could it have been the overwhelming number of paragraphs or calls to action within the email? By taking a step back and analyzing what went wrong, marketers can avoid making the same mistakes again and again. This will save both time and money in the long run.

Common mistakes, big consequences

A common mistake we often see is a misalignment of the subject line with the actual content of the email. Marketers may find that their campaigns have a high percentage of email opens but little in the way of click-throughs, which could indicate that the email content did not meet the expectations set by the subject line. While a clever subject line can get your audience interested, it should not deter far from the email’s content.

An email’s subject line should be engaging and concise to capture a user's attention, provide context and generate a feeling of urgency. To make it even stronger, pair it with a powerful email preheader to further preview why the user should be excited to open your email.

Another common mistake is a failure to segment mailing lists. While many marketers have a core audience they’re aiming to target, it is important to understand that consumers’ preferences differ. According to Campaign Monitor, marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 760% increase in revenue.

To take it a step further, marketers should also focus on personalizing emails. Consumers’ inboxes are cluttered. In fact, 205 billion emails are sent per day and this number is expected to reach 246 billion by the end of 2019. If marketers want to stand out in the crowd and add true value for consumers then personalization is the key. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and can even deliver six times higher transaction rates.

Continuously work toward improving

By evaluating what went wrong with a campaign, you can make sure that you’re better aligning future communications to deliver the right message to the right person in order to drive the desired actions.

Even after evaluating failures and adjusting your strategy, it is important to continue working toward improving the results of your email campaign. One way to improve results is by performing A/B testing with your campaigns to help determine which options are most effective for a specific audience.

While A/B testing can help determine what reaps the best results, it is important to determine what success actually looks like. In the past, open rates and click-throughs were a surefire way to determine if a campaign performed well. But, thanks to image blocks not rendering the pixels that track opens and bot clicks checking links for malicious URLs, open rates and click-throughs don’t hold as much weight as they once did. Instead of solely relying on those figures, being able to track email campaigns as a marketing touchpoint on the way to an opportunity or revenue can be a powerful indicator of success.

Specific or spam

Today, marketers must focus on providing quality, personalized, specific and relevant content to their targeted audiences or risk getting lost in the spam folder. Emails are becoming more advanced and engaging through the adoption of video and Google’s AMP for email. Consequently, the role of an email marketer will continue to become more technical and specialized to support these new tools.

Email is no longer an isolated marketing effort. It is an important part of broader multichannel campaigns that are tasked with demonstrating ROI and proving marketing as a revenue generator and not just a cost center. No matter how well (or poorly) an email marketing campaign goes, marketers should realize there will always be more opportunities for learning and growth.