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Top 13 Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

email marketing mistakes

Email marketing is the most effective digital marketing channel delivering the highest ROI. However, a mistake in your email campaign can drive your customers away pretty quickly. We will show you what the biggest NO-NOs in email marketing are and how to avoid the most common mistakes marketers make.

1. Your Sending Domain is: [email protected]

FROM email address, together with your subject line, is the first thing subscribers see. Imagine you got invited to a party, and when you get to the front door, you see a sign which reads “Do not enter”.You get the point.

Depending on the tone of the voice of your brand, FROM email address can be named differently. If you prefer keeping a close relationship with your B2B customers and you are directly addressing them in your email, it would be more appropriate to use an address such as: firsta[email protected]. However, if you are running a less personal business, [email protected] would be a good idea.

Furthermore, you will certainly want to leave your contact information up there in the email, so customers know you are reachable and can be contacted anytime. Links to your social media channels are a MUST, so your customers can get familiar with your brand on other channels too

2. Unappealing Spammy Subject Line

Now imagine you got invited to a party, you got to the front door, and the door just looks sketchy – not the type of a place that you first expected it to be. You might not enter.

Bad subject lines can heavily affect your open rate. According to different research done, 35% – 47% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.
Watch out for these spam filter triggers:

Spammy Words
Certain words, like “Free” and “Save $”, can set off email service provider spam filters. Check out Hubspot’s Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words. You can still use these words in moderation, but too many of them or too much repetition of one of them can get your email in the junk folder.

Subject Line in Caps
Having all caps in a subject line can trigger spam filters that could hurt your deliverability.

Exclamation Points
Use fewer exclamation points. A subject line containing both a question mark and an exclamation mark can trigger a spam filter rule. 

3. No Unsubscribe Link

Let’s say you decided to go to a party, but you ended up not liking it. You would like to go out, but the door is locked.

Having the unsubscribe link ensures that you are keeping uninterested customers away from your email list. This is beneficial for you too, as uninterested customers will only drive worse metrics in total by not opening your emails. You will want to make sure your customer base really wants to stick with you, so you can target them with your products and keep them updated.

The unsubscribe link is a requirement of the CAN-SPAM act and not complying with these rules can be very costly for your budget. 

4. Broken Links

Let’s say you came to a party because your friend who organized it told you that there would be wine tasting together with the promotion. You end up coming to the party, however, as you find, you can buy wine only before trying it out first.

If your subscriber was interested enough to open the email you sent out, it would be a huge miss if the links to your landing pages were broken or misleading. Misleading links can cost you sales especially if you are directly promoting a product. By reviewing and sending TEST emails before actually pushing them live, you can prevent these kinds of mistakes.

5. No Subscriber Permission

Using bought lists and sending emails to the people who did not subscribe is probably the biggest mistake you could make. If you are aiming for a good sender reputation as well as a good brand reputation, you should not even consider doing this.

As a business you want to have a customer base that is as loyal as possible, so receiving negative feedback from people who did not know they were on your list can work against you: spam complaints will badly affect your sender reputation. Also, it is illegal, and you can end up paying high fines for that. 

6. You Don’t Analyze the Metrics

Not analyzing the metrics of individual campaigns and automation is like shooting blanks. It is very unlikely that the first email newsletter you send out to your subscribers will have the perfect combination of content and copy, perfect send time, and perfect audience segmentation. As long as you are running your email marketing channel, you should constantly find ways to improve.

A/B testing various aspects of your email will definitely point you in the right direction.

Looking at bounce rates, click rates and open rates can portray the health state of your subscriber list. High bounce rates, as well as low click and open rates, could indicate a lot of dormant contacts.

At the end of the day, your email should be as personalized as possible, being crafted to your target audience.

7. Not Going Mobile

Nowadays, sending an email that is not mobile-optimized is a mistake that you cannot afford. According to the Litmus report “Email Client Market Share Trends” published in June 2018, mobile opens accounted for 46% of all email opens. Optimizing your email for all mobile devices is a must if you want your email marketing program to be a success.

8. Bad Audience Segmentation

Going back to the party analogy, you don’t want to throw a theme party for 30-year-olds (with desired entertainment) and invite 50-year-olds. Nobody is going to have fun.

Failing to understand your audience will lead to bad segmentation practices or no segmentation at all. This in return creates a poor customer experience, with customers receiving emails irrelevant to them.

Technological advances have allowed us to be very creative when segmenting the audience. Depending on the Email Service Provider (ESP) of your choice, you can come very close to accurately picking the segment you want to communicate with.

In order to avoid these mistakes, double-check the segmentation setup, and if you have issues setting up the segment, it is always a good idea to check out the readings on the ESP you are working with, or even reach out to their support team.

9. Not Having an Email Marketing Calendar

Upon signing up, your subscribers will have certain expectations from you. You are setting expectations to your prospect customers before they subscribe:

  • through your popup message (“Sign up and receive the latest promotions we run” or “Sign up and receive weekly tips on how to live healthier”) or
  • through the content in the first couple of weeks after subscribing (you send 1 email per week with specific content).

If you fail to fulfill these expectations you will alienate customers and reduce your brand value. Having an email marketing calendar with carefully planned topics and content for your next email newsletter will help you remain consistent, and following it will make your email marketing program more successful. Also, make sure not to miss out on the events your target audience is all about. Let’s say you sell gym clothes. It would be a huge miss if you did not use the opportunity to raise awareness of your product when big sports events, such as Power Ball, take place.

Here’s how to set up your May through October email marketing calendar

10. Wrong Content

By following the email calendar, we ensure the accuracy of frequency and timing. Now, what is inside your actual newsletter matters as well. Many things can go wrong with email content. You want to make sure your email has value for your customers. That value lies in the content that is not too sales-oriented, not too spammy, not boring, engaging and responsive, with the appropriate use of call-to-action, and most importantly, in the content that is personalized to your target audience.

Here you can find some more tips on how to design a campaign with convenience in mind.

11. Not Checking Promo Codes

If your newsletter contains discounts, these codes should better work. Before sending out the email, go to your website and double-check if the code you have created indeed works (obviously, it will depend on the active dates).

12. Not Having Email Automations Set Up

Automated emails give you the opportunity to send personalized emails to customers, which increases the chances of customers engaging with the content and making a purchase.
Once you set up your automation, it is crucial to crafting relevant email content. With that being said, if you are running a Browse Abandonment email, you know you are addressing a customer who was just about to purchase your product. Give them a good reason to come back with an appealing and personalized copy. If you want to be persistent about it, a discount will ease the sale for you.

Try to make the best out of your ESP having as many automation as your tech stack allows.

13. Not Doing a Quality Assurance Check

Last, but not the least, is doing a Quality Assurance (QA) check of every aspect of your email.

  • Check the copy that you wanted to put up in the first place – make sure it conveys what your brand is about. If you are currently running any promotions, make sure this is well-communicated and in the right place, so customers have the best chance to use it.
    For example, if you offer a 10% discount on a specific collection, make sure that it is communicated in your hero image (if you have one) – or it is clearly set as a priority in your email copy.
  • Make sure there are no grammar mistakes as well as general writing mistakes (e.g. double spacing).
  • Check if alt text matches the topic of your email.
  • Check if all the links are working.
  • Check whether you are using correct dynamic links.
  • Check that product names and descriptions match the product images.
  • Check that the prices match the products and the calculations are correct.
  • Check that the buttons match the products.
  • Check that products are in stock. Check that images are not distorted.
  • Check that the coupon code (if applicable) works at checkout.

Final thoughts

Investing in email marketing has brought proven returns, and this number keeps growing every year. According to the Campaign Monitor, in the UK, every pound spent on email marketing has a ROI of 38 pounds; in the US, it’s $44. Hiring a professional will decrease the chances of your business running into mistakes that can occur, thereby increasing the chances for a maximum profit. Check out our services to see how we can help your business grow and maximize the revenue from the email marketing channel.

Want to take your email marketing to the next level? Book a meeting with our email marketing experts and be between the 220 companies we have helped skyrocket! 🚀

Milica Paligoric graduated from Iona College, in New Rochelle, NY. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance, and over 3 years of experience in client-managing roles. She joined Essence of Email in 2018, after being a lead of a back office team for an e-commerce platform.


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