Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes

Email Marketing Mistakes
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Email marketing can be tricky. We’ve all made email marketing mistakes, like forgetting a call to action or using outdated tactics. These blunders can waste time and money, and worst of all, lose you customers.

This post is your guide to avoiding those pitfalls. We’ll explore some of the most common email marketing mistakes and also show you how to avoid or fix them.

1. Neglecting the welcome email

Whether meeting a new date or interviewing for a job, we know that first impressions are incredibly important. They basically shape how people see you. Email marketing is no different; your subscribers will judge you based on that first email, so make it a good one!

Starting with the obvious, you should always have a welcome email set up for your new subscribers. Why? Well, it shows you care about them and also it makes them feel special. Additionally, it’s also a chance to say hello, introduce yourself, and set a positive tone for future emails. Of course, a little personalization goes a long way. This includes tactics like using their name, referencing their sign-up source, or even offering a nice discount.

2. Don’t let bad subject lines be your email marketing mistake

Since subject lines are among the first things that recipients see, it really matters how you formulate them. Inboxes are flooded with emails, so, you need to craft your subject line in a way that cuts through the noise and gets your message noticed. All in all, a strong subject line grabs attention and convinces people to open your email, while a weak one gets ignored and deleted. If you are not feeling creative, you can use our subject line generator.

Bad subject lines:

  • Too generic and vague: “Important Update” or “You Won’t Want to Miss This!”
  • SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or using too many !!! comes across as pushy and unprofessional.
  • Misleading or clickbaity: “You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next!”
  • Too Long and Wordy (the subject line should be between 30 to 50 characters).

Good Email Subject Lines ✨

  • Intriguing and informative: “The Secret to Effortless [Benefit]” or “[Question] Here’s the Answer!”
  • Personalized:” Hey [Name], Check Out Your Personalized Recommendations!”
  • Benefit-driven: “Unlock [Benefit] with Our Latest Guide” or “Get Ready to [Benefit] with [Brand Name]” – Highlight the value your email offers.
  • Urgency (used sparingly): “[Limited Time] Free Shipping on All Orders!” or “Don’t Miss Out: [Event/Offer] Starts Today!”
  • Emojis (used carefully): Happy Birthday, [Name]! 🎂 Here’s a Gift for You! 🎁

3. One-size-fits-all

The one-size-fits-all approach is a common email marketing mistake you should avoid. A bad strategy, this approach completely ignores the unique preferences and needs of your subscribers. People get easily bored with generic emails that have nothing to do with them or their interests. This leads to lower open rates, click-through rates, and overall engagement with your brand. Moreover, they can cause a massive unsubscribe wave or complete ignorance of your emails.

If you don’t segment and personalize your emails, you are missing opportunities. When you think about it from the customer’s perspective, it all makes sense. After all, you wouldn’t be interested in emails that don’t match your interests or offers that include products or services you’d never consider buying either. Segmenting your email list by age groups, gender, past purchases, or clicks can increase open rates, build loyalty, and boost sales. Luckily, with handy email tools like ActiveCampaign or HubSpot, you can do this with ease.

4. All sales, all the time

A fairly common email mistake that many businesses make is that they only send promotional emails. We get it, the people get it, even that thermite over there gets it; you REALLY want to be successful in selling your products or services. But the key here is moderation. Instead of always bombarding your subscribers with sale emails, try to balance them with valuable content that educates and entertains your audience.

For example, create interactive quizzes or user-generated content contests, share surprising industry facts or “life hacks” related to your service, or even tell a humorous story about common customer struggles (with solutions, of course!). Think gamification with points and badges, or an email treasure hunt leading to a hidden discount. These kinds of fun emails help build brand loyalty and keep your subscribers engaged and wanting more from your brand.

5. Ugly mobile emails are a costly email marketing mistake

In 2024, it’s estimated that 50-60% of emails are opened from mobile. Although it happens less frequently now, most people have at some point opened an email on their phone and found a jumbled mess of text and images. Unfortunately, even today, “ugly mobile emails” are a thing, and they can be a real turn-off for subscribers.

Now that we have established that email optimization for mobiles is another must, there are a few tips that are fairly easy to implement right ahead. First, make sure to design emails that automatically adjust to any screen size. Secondly, use clear fonts and easy-to-tap buttons. Lastly, test on different phones or platforms before sending. Again, most major email marketing platforms offer responsive design templates and mobile previews, so the risk of ending with an ugly mobile email is smaller.

6. The disappearing act

Inconsistent communication with your email subscribers is an email marketing mistake that can be just as bad as irrelevant emails. Most subscribers expect a certain level of communication from brands they’ve signed up with. By having large gaps between emails, a sense of unreliability is created and it can damage brand trust. What’s worse, if a brand goes silent for long periods and then suddenly starts sending emails, subscribers might not remember them or be interested anymore.

Think of it like a friendship: consistent communication strengthens the bond. With email subscribers, regular interaction builds trust, keeps them engaged, and ultimately leads to a more successful (and profitable) marketing strategy. Thus, always plan what you’ll send and stick to a schedule.

7. Ignoring analytics is a big email marketing mistake

Without data, we might as well be sending our emails in the dark. In other words, you will have no idea if your campaigns are working, what resonates with your audience, or what needs improvement. Now, time and effort spent on crafting emails that nobody opens or clicks on are wasted resources. If our ultimate goal is to drive more sales or conversions, then it’s also important to track key email metrics like open rates and click-through rates.

Data analysis can seem overwhelming, especially for beginners. However, most email marketing platforms offer user-friendly dashboards and reports that make it easier to understand key metrics. When starting, it’s okay to focus on a few key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates and try to adjust your strategy based on that.

8. Forgetting the CTA

Another common email marketing mistake is not having a clear call to action. You can tell the best story ever or make an irresistible offer but if you don’t include a CTA, you are essentially leaving your audience hanging. They might be interested, but unsure what to do next. At the end of the day, no clear direction means lower engagement and your email might not translate to sales, website visits, or whatever your goal might be.

As mentioned above, clarity is above all when it comes to CTAs. Tell subscribers exactly what you want them to do (e.g., “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” “Download the Guide”). Also, you don’t have to bury your CTA at the bottom of the email. You can place it prominently within the email body and perhaps consider a second CTA at the end for reinforcement. Moreover, with current tools, you can make your CTA button stand out with a contrasting color and nice design.

9. Shady sender name & email

Email providers have filters that flag suspicious sender info. A shady name or email could land your message straight in the spam folder, never reaching your intended audience. Even if it bypasses spam filters, people are wary of suspicious senders. Consequently, they’re less likely to open emails from unknown or unclear sources.

The first fix is simple: always use your real business name and a clear email address that identifies your brand (e.g., [email protected]).

The second one? Not so much. Email authentication techniques like SPF and DKIM are like ID checks for your emails. They prove you’re the real sender, not someone pretending to be you. Fortunately, most reputable email marketing platforms handle them automatically. Still, ensure that you choose an email service provider (ESP) with good deliverability practices.

10. Buying vs. building your list

Buying an email list might seem like a sweet shortcut, but it can backfire. Generally, it’s a bad idea. The equivalent we like to use is that sending emails to a purchased list is the same as distributing flyers to random mailboxes. Those people haven’t signed up to hear from you, so they’re unlikely to be interested. Thus, the only outcomes that are almost guaranteed are wasted money and emails that get ignored.

Building your list slowly might seem like more work, but it’s better in the long run. When people sign up for your list, it means they want to hear from you. This way, you can send emails about things they’re actually interested in, and they’re more likely to open them and click on your links. Moreover, building your list with permission means you’re following the rules. Email providers won’t flag you as spam, so your emails will reach the inboxes you want them to.

Final thoughts on the top email marketing mistakes

Everyone messes up sometimes, and email marketing is no different. You might accidentally forget to include a call to action, leaving your readers confused about what to do next. Or maybe your subject line ends up in the spam folder graveyard, never to be seen again.

But hey, that’s okay! We’ve all been there. Hopefully, this post helped you avoid or fix some common email mistakes. Remember, even the best marketers make mistakes. The key is to learn from them, fix what needs fixing, and keep sending great emails!

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Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins is the founder of DigitalME and is an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant. He is ranked #1 on UpWork for his proficiency in digital marketing. DigitalME offers targeted digital solutions and is perfect for anyone who wants to increase leads, sales, and productivity through automation.