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Learn from the 5 biggest #fails in email marketing

Even if email marketing rapidly evolves to meet the needs of email marketers, it still remains a classic setup. The concept of the inbox where new emails are displayed chronologically, has been around for some decades now. Major players like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo go through every effort to improve and change the customer experience of email. Still we see that changes stay relatively modest. Let's have a look at some changes and events that didn't succeed.

First of all, the key email reformer is definitely Google. They have learned that a drastical overnight switch does not work, and changes need to be made gradually. So they have started launching changes to the inbox, to improve the setup of the inbox. Just think of Gmail priority inbox, tabbed Inbox, sponsored Promotions, image caching, grid view, all small changes to the inbox.

But which changes or events didn't work out? Discover 5 #epicfails…

Facebook email addresses
In 2010 Facebook created an email account for all their users, hoping to draw the email interaction thinking into Facebook. After loads of criticism, a failed launch and no user interaction they killed this off by forwarding all emails to your primary email account. Earlier this year they have added a setting where you can completely delete your Facebook email address.
Learning: Forcing a feature upon your users will practically always backfire on you. Same goes for email marketing: if you can convince people to opt-in, you will build up an engaged audience.

Epsilon data breach
In 2011 an email hack on the servers of ESP Epsilon exposed millions of data from all types of users. This data is worth its weight in gold to spammers. When you combine all databases from different clients in one big database, you have a massive list with metadata that tells you which companies subscribers are interested in.
Learning: Only add the data you need in SaaS based platforms. If you are only emailing, data like phone numbers, addresses,… add nothing valuable  to the database. Also, when choosing an ESP, always ask for a documentation on how they secure data.

Outlook 2010 conversations structure
Outlook tried to tackle the hassle of group replies and the overload of CC and BCC by arranging email in conversations. Not a bad idea, but it wasn't adopted by the users. The use of different streams made it more complex for users.
Learnings: Reading chronologically is an important feature in any inbox. Make sure that your emails have chronological order.

Email applications
Several email clients launched separate applications for Ios and Android phones. Eventually, users preferred to add different inboxes to the email setting on their mobile phones.
Learnings: emails from different clients are gathered in 1 inbox, so know that there is a fierce competition in the mobile inbox.

‘The email is dead' statement
This statement has been going around for over a decade now, and all we can see, is that email is stronger than ever. Because of the magnitude of email, it is frequently challenged. Just think back a couple of years, when marketers presumed that email would be overtaken by social media. Now that the novelty factor of social has worn off, we see that social is also challenged, and marketers re-invest in email.
Learnings: don't get us wrong, we're absolute fans of social media and created some nice email to social campaigns, and vice versa. We think social should take a key role in any strategy, just like email. But saying social will overtake email is just nonsense…

Conclusion

Major players like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo go through every effort to improve and change the customer experience of email. Still we see that changes stay relatively modest. Let's have a look at some changes and events that didn't succeed

Posted on
Sep 4, 2014