What makes a successful email marketing campaign? An honest, inviting subject line? Great imagery? A clear call-to-action? Attentive, ethical list building? In truth, all of these elements must go together in order for emails to engage subscribers and, ultimately, result in increased sales.

However, like so many things in life, there can be one stumbling block which prevents us from achieving a set goal. Something which is there to trip us up along the path to success and which, quite often, goes unnoticed and escapes blame entirely.

That stumbling block? It’s you.

A dreadfully harsh start to a blog post, perhaps, but an unavoidable truth and one which very few people in email marketing can claim not to have been an issue at some stage. At one time or another, we can all be our own worst enemy and today, we’ll take a look at common bad habits which can ultimately prove damaging for our email campaigns.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Waiting for someone else

Email marketing is a collaborative effort (even if it sometimes feels like you’re working alone!). There are many constituent elements which lead to an email being sent which you might not have direct control over. Design and branding, for example, might be carried out by a different department or an external freelancer and waiting for new graphics or logos which ultimately prove difficult to fit into your campaigns can severely delay getting your email out. Get involved in these processes and have your say. You’ll be glad of it in the long run.

Stand up for email

The introduction of social media into marketing plans is as concerning as it is positive. Sound daft? Not really. People are often happy to settle for the status quo and to jump on bandwagons. Social media, as powerful as it is, has the power to change people’s minds regarding what they should focus their marketing budget on. As a result, email can be unfairly looked down upon and, in worst cases, abandoned entirely. Stand up for email marketing – it is still the most effective way of communicating with customers en masse. You know it, so tell everyone else!

Leave your door open

In most SMEs, a single person will undertake email marketing duties. While that person will undoubtedly become proficient at the art, they can also become very one-dimensional. That person could be you. Get other departments and colleagues involved. Show them your list building strategy, invite them into your office to see the latest draft of your email newsletter. A fresh set of eyes will help uncover areas you might be overlooking through sheer familiarity.

Waiting for the email gods

Waiting on best practices is a bad practice. If you’re reading this blog, you’re clearly keen to keep up-to-speed with industry thoughts, but self-education should always come first. Start with generally-accepted, or long-known, best practices and test them on your audience. Not every practice works for every industry. Utilise good, old-fashioned common sense and see what works for you. You’ll develop your own best practices, and there’s nothing wrong in doing that.

Invest in training

Whether your email marketing is undertaken by a team or just yourself, fight hard to get the budget required to allow you to grow in-house knowledge. Attend conferences and exhibitions or get involved in web-based seminars. Use recorded versions of the latter as in-house training sessions to keep the discussion going.

Pinch from other departments

What knowledge, software, databases and staff resources are nestling away in other departments? You’re all working towards the same goal for the company and by joining forces, you can reach that goal more effectively. Speak to departmental managers and see which of their tools could benefit your email marketing campaign; that one thing you’ve been struggling with for months might actually be easily solvable.

Taking your emarketing software for granted

We’ll finish here, for obvious reasons! You chose your email marketing software for a reason. You wanted to publish graceful, beautiful and, above all, actionable emails. You wanted to do so as quickly as possible and without the need for significant infrastructure in-house. Indeed, leaving the hard work to software such as mailingmanager is the first stage of any email marketing campaign, but it is all too easy to get into a certain ‘groove’ with the way in which you use the software in question. As a result, you’ll look past features which could benefit you greatly and which could make your life even easier. Invest some time in exploring your emarketing software and, where possible, invest in additional training. Make the most of the tools at your disposal.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net