With all the buzz surrounding social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and targeted ads, it’s easy to forget about one of the most reliable forms of digital marketing — email. With an average return on investment between $36 and $45 per $1 spent, email marketing is still a highly effective method to reach your target audience.

However, building a high-quality list, sending regular communications, ensuring campaign success, and following up on leads can be burdensome for small businesses with limited time and resources. This article aims to bring clarity to the five most common email marketing challenges small-business owners face and how to address them. Let’s dive into the details!

Why Is Email Marketing Important?

Email marketing is a tried-and-true tactic in digital marketing for several reasons. One significant benefit is that subscribers willingly opt in to receive your messages, establishing a direct line of communication between you and your customers.

In contrast, other marketing methods like SEO and social ads — while still important to your overall digital marketing strategy — don’t necessarily have a captive audience and rely on algorithms to serve up your content at the right time to the right people. As such, many businesses use multiple marketing channels to spread the word, with email being one crucial component of a well-rounded strategy.

Additionally, email marketing offers versatility, allowing you to send a variety of communications, from promotional offers to informational announcements and newsletters. You can segment your email list based on audience behaviors, preferences, demographics, and other factors, allowing for targeted messaging that resonates with your customers, increasing click-throughs and conversions.

Moreover, email marketing enables ongoing relationship-building, engagement, and repeat purchases. Over time, as you deliver high value to your list, you can foster brand loyalty among your audience and position yourself as the go-to provider of products or services in your industry.

Top 5 Challenges in Email Marketing

Challenge 1: Building a List of Quality Subscribers

Starting and growing a list of high-quality subscribers is typically the first hurdle small businesses face when tackling email marketing. You need this list of engaged subscribers to run effective email marketing campaigns — so how can you build it?

  • Create lead magnets: Opt-in incentives relevant to your audience, like discounts, exclusive downloads, free trainings, or other valuable resources, can help encourage sign-ups. Half of marketers report higher conversion rates when using lead magnets to grow their lists.
  • Use cross-channel marketing: Leverage your website and social media channels to invite email sign-ups. Add subscription forms and call-to-action (CTA) buttons across platforms in conjunction with your lead magnets to attract interest and convert visitors into subscribers.
  • Run ad campaigns: Throw some ad dollars at your lead-magnet landing page and social media channels to capture interest from new subscribers. From targeted display to social ads, these hyper-focused ads can capture attention and encourage new sign-ups.

Challenge 2: Low Open Rates

So, you have a list of quality subscribers, but they’re not opening your emails? Here’s what to do:

  • Craft compelling subject lines: Aim for no more than nine words, and keep your subject lines engaging and relevant to your subscribers.
  • Segment your list: Personalize content based on unique factors such as interests, behaviors, and audience demographics — segmenting smaller groups of subscribers within your overall list. Add names to further tailor content.
  • Test and optimize: Experiment with sending emails on different days of the week and at different times. Mix up your frequency to gauge engagement with more or fewer emails. The goal is to test various strategies in correlation with open rates, click-throughs, conversions, unsubscribes, and other metrics.
  • Allow subscribers to update their preferences: Some users simply want more control over their inboxes. Give them the option to pare down emails — once a week, for example — or allow only certain campaigns, like promotions and news.

Challenge 3: Poor Email Design and Content

If your emails lack visual appeal and engaging content, they may get trashed or ignored. Improve your design and content with these tips:

  • Use professionally designed templates: Leverage predesigned templates for a polished look and feel aligned with your brand identity.
  • Incorporate images and videos: Add visual interest with graphics, images, or videos, but don’t go overboard — you don’t want to overburden your subscribers’ bandwidth or overwhelm them with visuals.
  • Test some more: Conduct A/B testing of different layouts, design elements, and content types to uncover your audience’s preferences.

Challenge 4: Deliverability Issues

Nothing kills a campaign like having your emails get flagged as spam and fail to hit recipients’ inboxes. Follow a few best practices to improve email deliverability:

  • Stay compliant: Adhere to email marketing regulations and guidelines, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and CAN-SPAM, to ensure your emails don’t get flagged as spam.
  • Clean up your email lists: Remove unqualified subscribers, such as those signed up through bots, to ensure list quality and improve deliverability.
  • Use double opt-ins: Incorporate double opt-ins to verify email sign-ups from qualified subscribers who genuinely want your emails. With double opt-in, subscribers must confirm their subscriptions via a separate link you email to them.

Challenge 5: Limited Time and Resources

Email marketing takes time and effort, and many small businesses struggle to stay consistent with it. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Automate campaigns: Use tools like Townsquare Interactive’s business management platform to manage email marketing from top-of-funnel to bottom. With an integrated inbox, calendar features, customer relationship management tools, and automated email and SMS messaging, you’ll have everything you need to grow your subscriber base.
  • Outsource email management tasks: Consider outsourcing email marketing and email management to professionals who can elevate your campaigns, allowing you to focus on other core aspects of your business.
  • Prioritize high-impact activities: Focus on high-impact email marketing strategies that align with your business goals and deliver the most significant ROI. Always include strong CTAs tied to conversion activities like booking a demo or purchasing a product or service.

Resolve Your Email Marketing Problems with Townsquare Interactive

From building a list to ensuring deliverability and opens, small-business owners face numerous email marketing challenges. However, email marketing remains a powerful tool for small businesses to connect with their audiences, drive sales, and nurture long-term relationships — making it crucial for owners to recognize and address common issues.

One popular solution to email marketing problems is Townsquare Interactive’s business management platform, which offers automated email campaign templates and expert assistance. With our combination of technology and support, businesses can uplevel their digital marketing game and tap into email marketing’s full potential.

To get started, contact our team and begin driving email marketing results!

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