Commentary

10 More Habits Of Highly Ineffective Email Marketers

In my previous Email Insider column, I listed the first 10 habits that I find repeatedly among ineffective email marketers. Here are 10 more habits that keep marketers from achieving lasting success with their email programs -- and, indeed, with their careers.

11. Blaming management, IT or others: The "Management Doesn't Get It Syndrome" usually happens when you don't provide numbers that mean anything (See No. 1 from my previous column.) It's your job to educate management on email's strengths and weaknesses and to communicate how it supports key company initiatives.

If your projects stall on IT's work list, meet with IT staff and look for a solution that meets your needs without causing IT pain. Find out if your project can intersect with and support one higher up on the priority list. If that doesn't work, look for workarounds from your vendors, whether retaining IT consulting services or leveraging their forms, landing pages or integrated partner solutions.

12. Being overly focused on incremental tactics: Tweaking subject lines is fine, but it won't move your overall program to the next level. Focus most of your time on the big fulcrum projects that will drive significant revenue growth. In Steven Covey's terms, take care of the rocks before you worry about the sand and water.

13. Staying siloed: Email marketing is a team sport, not an island unto itself. Email drives subscribers to visit your Web site, go to your stores, contact your call center and engage with your Facebook page. It also pulls in Web and mobile behavior, consumer reviews, catalog assets and beyond. Don't live in a silo. Look for ways to integrate email with other channels and for opportunities to help other departments use email to solve problems, reduce costs or work more efficiently.

14. Losing focus: Flavor-of-the-month issues like symbols in subject lines and Gmail Tabs can pull your attention away from the core activities that drive your success. Stay focused on the work that keeps your doors open. Let others rush in and make the early responder mistakes. Then, act on what they have learned. 

15. Relying on a “pull the list” approach: Do you run your email-marketing program by creating a new list for each send? Ugh. Not only is this an inefficient manual approach, but you also miss the opportunity to leverage real-time customer behavior and automation, triggering messages when each customer's behavior and profile determine the right time to send.

16. Living by calendar alone: If it's Thursday, this must be free-shipping day, right? This approach to emails will likely never die, but if you live by the calendar alone, you are probably missing out on an additional 10%-50% of your email revenue. Shift some resources away from a broadcast email, and gradually build up your customer-centric automated programs that respond to individual behavior.

17. Testing as a tactic: Rather than deploying testing as an intermittent tactic, use it as a strategic process. Instead of conducting the same general type of A/B subject line test for a back-to-school sale, make testing part of your process. Take a progressive approach by testing types of variables that you can leverage and build on for successive testing.

18. Missing the easy stuff: Some relatively simple-to-deploy programs practically print cash. A "Happy Birthday" email is one. Yet, most B2C marketers don't send them. "We don't have subscribers' birth dates" is a common excuse. So, start capturing them! Get a simple program up and running and generating revenue. Or, you already have a birthday program running but only send a single birthday email? Send reminders. Print more money.

19. Avoiding the hard stuff: Deploying complex automated emails that require integrations with multiple systems, creating business rules and dynamic content can be difficult and time-consuming. But not tackling them because they are really difficult means you are likely overlooking millions in revenue for your employer.

20. Missing the bigger picture: You jump straight to redoing your email templates with responsive design, but your Web site is mobile-unfriendly, most of your conversions are happening on desktops, and you ignored the fact that mobile is really about context and content.

What are some habits of ineffective email marketers that I left off of my list of 20? Please share in the comments section.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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