15 Signs Your Email Marketing Software isn’t Working for You

13 minute read

Team Upland

In any relationship, there comes a point when you will hit a bump in the road, and a decision must be made whether the problems can be worked through, or perhaps it might be time to part ways. our instinct is to try and make the relationship work, and this is precisely where many marketers find themselves with their email marketing tool, continuously investing time and money to paper over any cracks. Particularly when a business has made a significant investment in an email marketing solution, it can be difficult to admit that the marriage is just not working out.

The following are some red flags that can become the drivers for change.

1. Deliverability Issues

Unless you’ve got your eye on the metrics related to your email deliverability this can sometimes be a hidden red flag that only presents itself when you start to look into the data for the first time. There are of course many variables related to deliverability, but if deliverability is going the wrong way, and your emails aren’t hitting inboxes on a regular basis like they used to, a good email software vendor will have the team in place to help you turn poor results around, so be aware of your deliverability trends and the support you receive. But beware, just moving to a new email product doesn’t guarantee better deliverability, making improvements is an ongoing process that involves effort from you and your software provider, so first, reach out to your current vendor who should be able to work with you to evaluate any issues and help to rectify them. However, if your provider is not willing to engage with you to resolve the issues then perhaps it is time to seek out one that will so that email deliverability is no longer an issue.

2. Personalization strategies are inhibited

With 74% of marketers saying that personalization increases their customer engagement rates (eConsultancy), not having the functionality to create good levels of personalization could be negatively impacting the success of your email campaigns. If your audience expects a personalized experience, it’s vital that you deliver it, which includes basic personalization tokens, more advanced abilities to dynamically personalize entire content blocks, personalized triggered messaging, and optimized send times. Each of these capabilities can help to deliver the right message/offer, at the right time to increase engagement and conversions, so if you’re not able to create these personalized communications, it might be time to consider a change.

3. Limited reporting

To take the guesswork out of your email marketing strategy, you need access to fundamental metrics such as open, unsubscribe, and click-through rates, which almost every email product will provide. However, being able to visualize trends over time, segment results for specific types of emails (e.g. newsletters versus offers), run attribution models alongside other channels, or analyze heatmaps to inform your design principles; are all features that you may not have, but which can further help to finetune results. Without detailed insights into your email campaign performance, it’s impossible to act and make improvements on future c

ampaigns. So, if your current email tool isn’t giving you the reporting and analytics you need, it could be time to find another provider. Alternatively, you may be able to use 3rd party BI tools, such as Qlik, to use for email and campaign reporting instead, so consider that there are several reporting options if inadequate reporting is your main gripe.

4. Support/service discontinued

Now and then a software vendor will announce to its customers that a product is being ‘sunsetted’ or discontinued. This happened in 2021 when Oracle announced the end of life of its Bronto Email Marketing Software, creating concern for thousands of customers. This led to many needing to shop around, but all that came to Adestra had said there were warning signs and red flags along the way – namely that there had already been a period of years where support levels, platform stability, and development had been in decline. Two-way communication is paramount. Whether you have a query about functionality or an urgent question when launching your latest campaign, the last thing you need is radio silence. If your messages or support emails remain unread, and it’s impacting the timeliness and success of your campaigns, find  Email Marketing Software with a support team that has the resources to answer your questions quickly.  

5. A poor product roadmap

There is always a place for spontaneity, but when it comes to your marketing strategy, you want to take as much guesswork away as you can. After all, you want to know you’re investing your time and resources into something that is going to grow with you and provide new capabilities to take advantage of. It’s likely your email marketing will scale and with that you need an email platform that can empower you to scale. Ask yourself, is your Email Marketing Software ambitious? Are there plans to introduce new tools and services? Is your provider communicating updates and changes with you and releasing features that you can take advantage of. If you feel you’ve hit a wall, and your Email Marketing Software can’t meet your future requirements, in terms of functionality and service, to make your email campaigns successful, you might want to consider swapping to a tool that does.

6. Regular service disruptions

Your holiday campaign has been 3 months in the making, your customer journeys are mapped, workflows agreed, A/B testing in place, and your team is primed to launch to an audience who is ready and waiting for your content. Then you’re hit with service disruption, the fourth time this month! Outages are sadly inevitable, and sometimes can’t be predicted. But if your Email Marketing Software is consistently unavailable, causing constant interruptions in your campaigns, and scheduled downtime isn’t communicated to you effectively, then wave them goodbye and find a platform that will keep you more informed.

7. Poor integrations

Does your Email Marketing Software allow you to integrate with other tech solutions? Every integration or connector comes with its own limitations. Some are limited and locked down, others are temperamental and prone to break, whilst some can’t handle the throughput when the volume or scale of emails you’re sending increases. Integrations should work to break down silos and help to get the relevant data passing between two systems in the way you need to be more successful. To work efficiently, integrations with your Email Marketing Software such as your Customer Data Platform (CDP), can be extremely useful. If you can’t connect your marketing tech stack seamlessly, or at all, your goals of scaling your email marketing could hang in the balance.

8. Lack of omnichannel capabilities

The global email software market was valued at $7.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027 (Statista, 2021). Email is a channel that will continue to grow, and on its own is incredibly powerful. However, consumers no longer operate on one channel. In fact companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement are reported to retain, on average, 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement (Aberdeen Group).

However, omnichannel is not the easiest move for many brands and requires a lot of strategic thinking. Multichannel Marketing Hubs, defined by Gartner as “a technology that can orchestrate company communications and offers various customer segments via multiple channels, including websites, mobile, social, direct mail, call centers, paid media, and email”, are enabling organizations to combine email with mobile, SMS, web personalization and offline communications. Although these platforms provide many channels out of the box, there are warnings to be had, with many starting life as an Email Marketing Software and then adding 3rd party products over time to build out other channels. These may not be as feature-rich as investing in a dedicated SMS, mobile or web channel, so that needs to be considered, alongside the readiness of your business to move to a multichannel or omnichannel solution.

With an omnichannel approach you increase your chances of meeting your audience on the channels in which they are most active, whether that’s on social media, via text, or in their email inbox, however, consider adding channels one at a time to not bend the business out of shape. Find Email Marketing Software that can work with you strategically to integrate or work alongside your other channels, to deliver the seamless experience your customers expect, but our advice is not to jump into omnichannel in one big leap!

9. You’ve outgrown your current Email Marketing Software/lack of functionality

As your email marketing strategy develops, so too will your email marketing requirements and ambitions. You may have managed the manual launch of a newsletter and small campaigns once a month, but now you need something that can support your new email strategy – whether that be to start a journey towards omnichannel, improve personalization or get better at segmentation and targeting. At a minimum, good Email Marketing Software should let you create fully automated welcome workflows, nurture campaigns, and triggered emails that free up time and resources for your team, but when strategizing, if your Email Marketing Software is not likely to support your goals then of course it’s a sign that you may need to plan for a swap when your renewal date lands.

10. Cost

You could spend all your budget on the most sophisticated Email Marketing Software on the market and only use a third of the functionality. Or spend as little as possible and be restricted every time you try to carry out a basic task or contact the support team (if there is a support team of course!). A higher cost doesn’t always equate to a more mature platform, and using the cheapest to save budget is likely to bring up capability and service issues. Pricing can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, so it’s important to understand your Email Marketing Software requirements and whether it can deliver on them. Unfortunately, cost models are not always the same and so comparing one vendor with another is not as easy as it should be. Some will offer CPM rates, whilst others will provide pricing based on the volume of contacts in the database, and others may price differently too. If you’re not getting bang for your buck with your current provider, you could be making cost savings while achieving better-automated campaigns elsewhere. Or with higher investment, you could access the improved functionality your team needs.

11. Data quality

Well-maintained data sits at the foundation of any successful email program. Segmenting your audience, targeting them based on particular attributes, and personalizing your campaigns requires superior data hygiene. Staying on top of your data is essential, but can be resource-intensive and often overlooked. Ensure your Email Marketing Software makes light work of keeping data up to date. Without it, you’ll be faced with a poor sender reputation resulting in deliverability issues in the future, or worse still, fall foul of regulations.

12. Data restrictions

Your Email Marketing Software may keep your data well-maintained, but are you able to access it and utilize it in a way that fully supports your campaigns? Your audience expects a personalized experience, and therefore if there are restrictions on the data that you need to put into your Email Marketing Software to enable that personalized experience, then you’ll be inhibited. Most email products, including Marketing Clouds, have a data architecture that could be limiting if you’re looking to move to more advanced segmentation or personalization, which are common issues for enterprise brands that usually are solved outside of the Email Marketing Software with technologies such as Customer Data Platforms, or through bespoke integrations. With restrictions on the data you can use in your Email Marketing Software you could miss opportunities to create personalized campaigns that show your audience you truly understand them, whether that be through demographic, behavioral, or transactional segmentation, and so might be the time to consider either swapping Email Marketing Software or finding a complementary technology that can enable your strategy.

13. Hosting restrictions

Part of living a happy life with your Email Marketing Software is keeping your IT team happy. Some sectors won’t allow for customer data to be cloud-hosted and will want on-premise deployments, or you may have rules in place based on company policies as to where your Email Marketing Software is hosted (AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud). Similarly, you may have local regulations that dictate where the location of your hosting needs to be, and even so far as where that data can be viewed from. In 2020, the Court of Justice for the European Union ruled that for an EU business, any data that is hosted or accessed in the United States, is potentially illegal, and throughout the EU-US Privacy Shield that was formerly in place to enable data transfers in this way. Hosting is therefore incredibly important, and rules will impact what you can and can’t buy. Similarly, any changes from the IT team, or a new company-wide hosting policy, could dictate a need to switch. 

14. Poor collaboration

Email campaign development is built on a number of components, and multiple team members, ranging from copywriting and design to testing and reporting. The numerous employees, combined with the possibility of running multiple email campaigns, mean that the ability to collaborate effectively is crucial to ensuring successful end-to-end campaigns. If failing to add notes/suggestions and keep your team up to date on recent progress is resulting in frequent errors, you need Email Marketing Software that knocks down departmental walls, not creates them.  

15. Unique Multi-brand issues

This is an issue that is only really apparent in multi-brand organizations, or indeed agencies that provide email marketing services to many clients. The need to manage, report on, separate, and combine email marketing campaigns across multiple entities can be tiresome and problematic. Different brands could be using different email technologies as a result, and a lot of manual reporting and administration can be crippling, or at least unneeded. For multi-brand companies (commonly retail, travel/leisure, and publishing), or agencies running email services for clients, you should look for an email marketing tool that can provide multi-tenant functionality to enable easier reporting and management of multiple instances of the product. 

This is a chapter from our eBook ‘Your Ultimate ESP Migration Guide’.  Download your free copy today to find out more about the key areas to consider for a smooth transition to new Email Marketing Software.

If you’d like to understand more about how Upland Adestra can help you deliver automated email campaigns that delight customers at every step of their journey, request a demo and a member of our team will be in touch.





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