10 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

Email marketing is one of the most effective digital channels available to marketers and entrepreneurs.

In fact, more than 205 billion emails are sent every day. However, it is also quite complex– it can be a lot to manage, and mistakes can happen at any point.

With all of that email static out there exhausting and annoying people, it’s essential to excel so you get the attention and business you’re trying to attract. Yes, mistakes do happen. And they will happen again. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything you can to minimize them. Fortunately, with a little forethought, you can head off the most-common email marketing mistakes.

So how can you avoid setbacks in such an important part of your marketing strategy? In this article, we’ll walk you through the worst email marketing mistakes and how to get them right. 

On that note, if your email list isn’t growing, your unsubscribe rates are up, and your open rates are down, make sure you aren’t guilty of any of the following 10 behaviors:

Not Using Customer Segmentation

One of the most common mistakes in email marketing is blasting generic emails to your entire list without personalization.

You should ask yourself who you are targeting with your online marketing campaigns. Everyone with a computer? People with smartphones? Anyone with Internet access?

Clearly, it would be a BIG MISTAKE to tailor the email to every single customer. If you want to get the maximum value from your list, you must segment your list into specific targeted groups.

The better practice is to segment your customer base by who they are: a hot or cold lead, past or present prospect, their position in your sales funnel, their specific interests, where they are, etc.

If you haven’t been doing that yet, now is the perfect time to start! Tailor your messages and delivery timing to better grab attention and increase appeal to each audience segment. Persona targeting makes it possible for you to increase effectiveness by hitting people where they live.

Once you have the right identifiers established, you can start fixing your email campaigns by understanding small differences within your target audience and creating strategic groups and lists that allow for sending specific content rather than widespread blasts.

If you want to dig deeper, (and you’re technically inclined) check out our Technical Guide To Customer Segmentation. Use this information to enhance your marketing efforts and you’ll be surprised to see what you discover.


One of the fantastic things about email marketing is the ability to make a direct sale. However, it will be wise to not oversell. If you’re too pushy, you’ll turn off a lot of people.

You have to think of sales like dating. If you reek of desperation, no one will be attracted to you. You have to be casual with your sales techniques and not desperate to make the sale. At the end of the day, if your product or service is good, the person you are selling to should feel privileged to use it.

If you want to avoid overselling but still need to make a sale, it’ll be wise to send relational messages before sending a promotional email. In fact, According to Digital Marketer, Companies that send relational emails have an average of 50% more sales-ready leads than those who do not. 

So start sending a newsletter, advice/education emails, articles, entertainment, etc. Just write about something relevant to potential customers… provide value.

In addition, you may send holiday greetings. Take the time to wish them a happy holiday and to let them know how much you appreciate them as a customer.

Again, the point here is to balance the art of hard selling and soft selling; and keep the customer engaged and familiar with your company.

Not Nailing The Subject Lines

Your headlines can make or break your open rate. Good headlines get emails opened – poor headlines get them deleted.

The subject line is the first thing the reader is going to see initially, and not the content of your email. No one wants to spend their time trying to figure out what an email is telling them, so you can avoid this issue by keeping your message crystal clear. You also need to make sure that it’s catchy and enticing for the user to click on.

Email marketing is a crowded channel, and it can be extremely challenging for audiences to notice you. Some brands compound this difficulty by writing dull subject lines that lack any sort of personalization–which is what incentivizes subscribers to open the email.

According to Campaign Monitor’s 2019 Email Marketing Benchmarks report, the average open rate of emails from over 20 industries is only 17.92%. This means that if you send an email to 100 subscribers, only 18 will open it.

The best possible way to overcome this is by optimizing your subject lines. Here are a few rules you can follow:

  • Don’t mislead the viewer. This means all you say in the subject line should be true.
  • Don’t say it all. Just provoke the curiosity of the reader, so they are urged to click and see your message.
  • Put the right keywords in the beginning. Since a lot of recipients read their email on mobile devices, you have to keep that in mind that the subject lines will be cropped.
  • Try including a number in your subject line. YesWare’s analysis of 115 million emails indicated that emails that had numbers in the subject lines had higher open rates than those without.

Free tool alert: use CoSchedule’s free email subject line analyzer tool to create catchy, clickable subject lines.

Sending Irrelevant Content

A good headline will get your email opened but if you don’t give your subscribers relevant information within the content that fulfills the promise of that headline, they will quickly lose interest.

Sending emails that contain information the audience doesn’t care about will cause readers to disengage from your marketing campaigns. It will eventually turn them off of your business completely. At best they will stop reading the email but at worse, they will unsubscribe from your list completely or ignore your future messages. So always consider packing as much useful information into each email as possible!

One common blunder is sending repeated sales messages to people who have already purchased an item/service. So when you segment your customer list according to behavior and demographics, you are better placed to provide information that is relevant to each segment. Your offers, promotions, and content should be aligned with the customers’ behavior and demographics.

Forgetting Personalization Measures

One of the aspects that the user who receives the message values most is that the email is written for him/her. In fact, eConsultancy reports that 74% of marketers claim targeted personalization boosts customer engagement.

Today, many companies have developed ways to personalize emails such as the inclusion of the name of the recipient of the message, sending personalized content through searches on the website, and sending personalized content through the content visited or uploaded in a social network.

Anticipating and sending articles that will interest them (based on their pages visited) and sending relevant product offers (based on their searches) are examples of personalized emails. As a result, the user will feel included because the content of the message has been prepared in particular for his/her needs. Not only do these messages break the email ice, but they also deliver more relevant and useful information that is returned with meaningful engagement.

On the flipside, non-personalized messages give the appearance of being generic which can feel distant and uninteresting. The generic words could be understood as those messages that are valid for all types of users, so they have nothing unusual for the user. They do not arouse interest.

Overall, you want to target customer pain points that are specific to their needs and industry. If you can analyze data and leverage it in your favor with personalization, the world is your oyster!

Failing To Include Clear Calls To Action

Do you want the reader to go to your website or buy something from you? Whatever you want them to do, make it clear and simple using a clear call-to-action (CTA).

A clear CTA is what email marketing campaigns are all about. They give your reader a specific action to take in response to your email.

Are you linking to a landing page to collect member feedback? Or are you sharing an event link in the hopes of gathering signups? Without a CTA, you risk your email being quickly forgotten, so make sure to always include something for your reader to engage with.

Ideally, this can come at the end of the email or strategically throughout to nurture a lead closer to a conversion. You can also encourage readers to fill out a form for some extra downloadable content or request that they contact your team to learn more about a product or service.

Not Optimizing For Mobile

In email marketing, mobile is KING! According to Litmus, the majority of all email opens now occur on mobile. Furthermore, mobile users check their emails three times more than desktop users.

If you still don’t consider your mobile customers/recipients, it’s about time to optimize your emails for mobile. A 2016 study suggested that users may delete emails that don’t display correctly on their mobile devices within three seconds. This is why it’s crucial for you to optimize your emails for mobile.

To easily design emails for mobile, use mobile-responsive email templates. These templates are already optimized from the start, eliminating the need for coding. With mobile-responsive email templates, you can create professional-looking emails that are sure to display perfectly on every mobile device.

All in all, if you are neglecting the audience that is reading all your emails on mobiles or tablets then you are making a very expensive mistake.

Neglecting Analytics

Measuring the ROI of your email marketing campaigns equips you to better define your strategy for next time. There is no point in using all the great tools that track your email campaign’s progress if you do not plan to use them regularly. Following analytics is the only way to keep your momentum going forward and is the best way to improve your strategies. 

First and foremost, make sure to track your data. Use the information to make changes, and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. For example, if emails you send out on Mondays get more clicks than those you send out on Fridays, these results should inform future endeavors. The same goes for the effectiveness of different email styles, subject lines, layouts, and types of offers.

Over time, you will be able to understand your readers better and focus on growing engagement rates that drive conversions, as opposed to simply getting people to open your campaigns.

Sending Emails At The Wrong Time

Choosing the right time to send an email is an art. If you send it beforehand, then the impact of the email is not as powerful as it could be and the user may even end up forgetting about the entire thing when the date eventually arrives.

The idea is to adapt to the calendar that customers have. Include calendar-specific messages. This approach is regularly used by e-commerce businesses that take advantage of Holidays such as Christmas, Black Friday, or Mother’s Day to launch their promotions.

Review your email marketing plan. Are you sending email newsletters on a regular basis – weekly, biweekly, monthly? If the messages are relevant, your customers will not mind more frequent messaging. You want to remain top of mind so that when they are ready to buy, they will think of you.

Not Using An Email Marketing Service and Automation

Don’t start your small business email marketing campaign using your normal email account in Outlook or Gmail. This is a mistake because the software isn’t designed to send bulk emails (more than fifty at a time). You also risk your emails not being delivered and you won’t have the detailed delivery and response tracking data.

Email client spam filters are very aggressive. If you don’t use a professional email marketing provider you risk many of your emails not being delivered.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of automated emails. Email marketing automation tools can save you a significant amount of time and hassle by firing off messages after certain trigger events, thereby optimizing the impact of your message. It also takes human error out of the equation by eliminating the need to track client activity and release messages accordingly. 

Ultimately, automated email delivery improves your professional image through consistency of timing and targeting.

Final Thoughts

Writing emails may seem like a daunting task, or it may seem easy, but there are a lot of processes that go into making a successful email marketing strategy. By avoiding the most common mistakes and by investing your time in the right places, you can successfully increase your open rate, your lead volume, and therefore your number of potential sales.

The bottom line, there’s a difference between email marketing and effective email marketing. If you want to avoid landing in the spam section with all those other bad emails, you’ll have to work for it.

That isn’t to say you’re on your own, though. If you want help implementing an effective email marketing strategy that drives real business results, we’re here to make it happen for you. Contact us to get started or leave a comment below!

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