You may have read about AI-powered segmentation and subject line optimisation, but when it comes to it there are six basic challenges that email marketers must still address.

Before you add more martech to your stack, have you properly addressed all six with good old-fashioned marketing nous?

They are... 

1. Achieving relevance

Too much email. It is one of the tropes of modern life.

So, how do you cut through the flab with relevant and compelling content? Without achieving relevance, your subscribers will rapidly stop opening your messages. 

2. Determining the right frequency

Frequency is very important, and the right frequency differs between recipients. Some bargain hunters may want daily emails, others a monthyl browse.

Email marketers must manage this balance – a tactic that goes hand in hand with creating relevant content.

3. Declining subscriber engagement through time

Email recipients are most responsive when they first subscribe, after which interest can decline.

How can marketers assess current levels of engagement and develop strategies to maintain engagement through time? Testing of segmentation and personalised content is key.

email engagement over time 

Decline in engagement with email through time for new subscribers who are not targeted through personalised messaging (Barratt, S. and Davis, S. (2009) Connected Commerce: The intersection of e-commerce and ecommunication).

4. Data quality and integration

Integrating ESP response data with information from a CRM database is commonplace, but robust data conventions are necessary, for example, standardising the names used for different fields, and having solid processes for syncing data and handling conflicts.

5. Deliverability

How do you get your emails delivered consistently through different ISPs, spam filters or corporate firewalls?

Spam filters are one thing, but newer techniques from big webmail clients will look at past interaction and engagement in order to determine inbox placement. Email marketers should measure inbox delivery rate and identify methods for improving deliverability.

6. Rendering

There's no point in crafting excellent email creative if it doesn't display correctly in certain email clients or on mobile.

These challenges remain

Looking at Econsultancy's 2017 Email Marketing Census, when asked about their email marketing focus for the year ahead, respondents identified relevance, optimisation, deliverability and mobile rendering just as frequently as they did in 2016. This hints that these challenges remain, whereas the more recent challenge of automation fell significantly year on year.

email census 

If you want tons of practical advice on email marketing, including extensive case studies (such as how Travelodge doubled their revenue from email) and a 60-point model for evaluating your email marketing capability, download our Email Marketing Best Practice Guide (subscriber only).

Ben Davis

Published 20 February, 2018 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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