I was working from home recently, writing a blog post much like this one when I heard it. It was the all-too-familiar and entirely too loud beep – followed by another exactly one minute later – of one of my home’s smoke detectors. The exact same sound had awakened me, but somehow not my husband or daughter or even dog, just a week before. I knew from that middle-of-the-night experience that the beeping was from putting dated batteries in the detector as we waited for new and backordered batteries to arrive.
And yet, I couldn’t just ignore the sound. Aside from the fact that it was noisy and annoying, the smoke detector was trying to tell me something. It needed my attention and intervention to perform properly for me and my family again.
There are parts of your marketing that are just like that. Even if you don’t hear a frequent beep, you see the warning signs. And much like my pesky smoke detector, these warning signs require your attention if you want your marketing efforts to succeed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top marketing warning signs and how savvy marketers can handle them.
1. Website traffic has decreased. Traffic to your website has its natural ebbs and flows. If you send an email that directs recipients to a new product or service page on your website, traffic might go up. During the holidays, summer or whenever your organization’s slow season may be, you might see a decrease in traffic. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. If you see an unexpected decline in visits to your website, whether over a short or long period, it’s time to investigate. Consider what may have changed, either with your business, your customers or your industry. For example, did a new competitor emerge around the time that the decrease in traffic started? Or did your team send fewer emails that directed people to the website? Once you identify the issue, work diligently to turn things around. Your website should be the heart and hub for your digital marketing efforts. Without traffic, it can’t produce conversions – your ultimate website goal.
2. Email unsubscribes have increased. With every email blast you send, some unsubscribes are likely to follow. It’s a part of life for marketers. It’s also important to monitor those unsubscribes so you know when it’s just par for the email marketing course and when it’s a sign of a deeper issue. If you notice an uptick in your unsubscribes, be sure to dig into the details. What was the content in the email that generated the unsubscribes? Have you been emailing recipients more frequently leading up to the increase in unsubscribes? Sometimes people just get tired of receiving your emails and one extra email in a week’s time or one that didn’t contain the most relevant content can send them scrambling for the unsubscribe page. While you can’t get these individuals back, you can work to retain others in your database. Ensure that you always send engaging content and that you are being cognizant of how frequently your organization sends emails to individuals on your lists and coordinate with other departments to ensure recipients aren’t being bombarded. And utilize subscription management to give your audiences the power of choice and to reduce global unsubscribes.
3. Email bounces have increased. Much like unsubscribes, into every marketer’s life some email bounces must fall. Unlike unsubscribes, bounces aren’t a choice of the recipient; they indicate an error in the email being received. There are a number of different causes for bounces, which you can read all about in this blog post. While there are a number of different reasons for hard bounces, they all point to the same general conclusion – you need to take action. Bounced emails should be under 5 percent of total emails sent. If you see a higher rate than that, and particularly if it’s over 10 percent, you should first ensure that your domain’s SPF record is properly configured. If your SPF record is not set up properly, it is likely that any mail server performing an SPF check will bounce your emails. In addition, to prevent future bounces, follow these tips for maintaining clean marketing lists.
4. Social engagement has decreased. They like you! They really, really like you – until they don’t. If you’re suddenly not feeling the love on social media, take action to determine the cause. One potential culprit that causes plenty of headaches for marketers today is an algorithm change. We have seen these across platforms in many different forms over the years. So, if you experience a sudden drop in engagement, it’s worth exploring whether it is a result of an algorithm change. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram all maintain corporate blogs or newsrooms that detail recent platform changes and are often also a great source of tips for success on each. If an algorithm change is to blame, investing in some paid social advertising and sponsored content is one viable solution. If an algorithm change isn’t to blame, take a closer look at your content. By reviewing your social analytics, you can see what posts are most engaging and provide more of that content. Also, when engagement drops, it’s a great time to try something new to see if that resonates with existing followers and secures you some new ones.