The 5 Pain Points of E-mail Marketing

I recently asked a group of marketers what their five biggest pain points were when it came to e-mail marketing. Below are the results:

1. Spam: this was the one item on everyone's list. Said one marketer, "With spam come spam filters, blacklists, negative consumer attitudes towards e-mail, all of which make it more difficult for us legitimate marketers." It is no wonder then that the newly re-energized DMA announced a tougher anti-spam policy. Nothing affects their membership's marketing channel more than finding an answer to the spam problem.

2. Reporting: What to report is a problem for today's marketers: "What metrics are we using today? e.g. unique opens and clicks or aggregate? Clients get comparative data from a wide variety of sources, and it is often apples and oranges," said one marketer. Another had this to add: "(One problem is) the use of e-mail metrics out of context. To understand how your e-mail programs are performing, you have to set consistent measurements and understand how they perform in relation to the level of engagement, the timing, and the message. Too often I hear people saying 'A 40 percent open rate is great!' Well, if it's a campaign sent upon subscription, to a double opt in list, and you're counting total opens and not unique, then no it's not great. Understand the situation and trend your performance."



3. Reporting Tools and Infrastructure Issues: Lack of good reporting tools and an underinvestment in proper e-mail infrastructure was another big problem for today's e-mail marketers who are often struggling with underfunded online budgets. Finding a reputable e-mail service provider and finding quality resources on the data processing side are high on marketers concerns. Regarding reporting tools, one marketer had this to say: "I have found one that is fabulous, the others make us work like devils to find the data we need to compile a report. For crying out loud, Webtrends now exports to Powerpoint..."

4. Creative and Frequency Issues: The issue of poorly designed creative was also listed as a major pain point for today's marketers: "The design of html e-mail as if it were a Web page. At ZP we've spent a lot of time educating our creative department on the intricacies of designing for e-mail. Considering content filters, image suppression, and consumer attitudes towards e-mail is critical to designing quality creative. When we work with outside agencies, their creative departments tend to create it as if it's a page for a Web site and it will render exactly as they design it. I think as e-mail becomes more pervasive within overall campaigns, creative departments will start treating it as a unique medium."

Along these same lines another marketer complained about what he called the need for 'Calendar Cops': "...more and more we are opting in consumers to receive e-mail from all of a manufacturer's brands, building beautiful data warehouses, and using sophisticated campaign and data tools. Still, each brand manager wants the best for his brand, and who takes the lead in policing the consumer's in-box?"

On the subject of frequency another marketer said this: "The desire to over-mail customers, because the ROI [return on investment] on e-mail is still better than most any other medium. As you know, even bad e-mailing programs are profitable [hence, the spam problem]. Educating marketers that over-mailing can cause list exhaustion, negative branding impact, and a poor reputation that might impact deliverability are difficult when direct-response e-mail still yields solid ROIs."

5. E-mail Acquisition Headaches When Working With Third-Party Lists: This pain point focuses around the data cleansing necessary when working with third-party lists while maintaining compliance with Can Spam: "With CAN-SPAM, the need to bump my advertiser's do-not-contact against a list of third-party rental names that opted into that third party irks me. It's a pain and extra cost to remove John Doe who might've opted out of ACME Inc. mailings, but opted into receive third-party mailings from MyBestSavings [example]."

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