Email Marketing

Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes

Jim West
Jim West

Email marketing is the most effective form of marketing. It allows you to connect with your target market, build relationships, and achieve a closeness that is unheard of with other marketing methods. Keep these top 10 email marketing mistakes to a minimum for more success. Be sure to check out the BONUS mistake at the end!

Mistake #1: Using Deceptive Sensationalized Subject Lines

The subject line of your email determines whether readers open it or trash it. In trying to create interest, many marketers mistakenly go overboard and use sensationalized subject lines. These are also known as click-bait titles.

When clicked, the email doesn’t deliver the content promised in the title. This leads your audience to mistrust you because they think you “have something up your sleeve” and have tricked them. When they feel this way, they will unsubscribe in droves.

Use subject lines that make readers curious about the details in the email. Keep the subject line short and simple to encourage readers to click and read. Deliver the content you hinted at in the subject line to make subscribers glad they clicked to read.

Mistake #2: Disregarding Readability Factors

Technology advancements make it easier than ever to send and read email messages. However, because your audience can use a huge variety of devices, browsers, and apps to read email, there are many readability factors you need to consider when creating an email message. Your audience should be able to open and read your email messages regardless of the device or software used.

Ensure that readability is not a problem by keeping the format simple and using software that automatically adjusts for the subscriber’s device, browser, and app. Since you will be adding a call to action link, make sure the link’s destination page is also responsive and can be easily accessed and read.

Mistake #3: Using a No-Reply Email Address

Using a “no-reply” email address discourages interaction with your readers. It can also give them the impression that you don’t care what they think or need. When subscribers feel this way, they are more apt to mark the email as spam or unsubscribe from your list.

Both of these actions can hurt your reputation, limit your click-through rate, and reduce your profits. It can even lead to your domain or IP being blacklisted by the user’s email client, if the email is marked as spam. This can have a far-reaching effect on your overall deliverability.

Strongly encourage subscribers to “whitelist” your email address and use your support system to ask questions or make suggestions. Add a prominent support link to the bottom of each email and use the appropriate “reply-to” features in your email system. Make sure you keep the line of communications open. Also, make it easy for readers to adjust their subscription options. It beats the heck out of being marked as spam and blacklisted.

Mistake #4: Not Adding Value

When you have someone’s email address, you have a greater connection with them than you may realize. They have made your emails a priority. Your subscribers give you the gift of accessibility because they feel that you add value to their lives. They want and need to hear from you.

Take this show of trust seriously. Show your appreciation. Make sure every message you send is valuable to them. If it doesn’t add value, don’t send it.

To make your emails more valuable to your readers, focus on your audience’s needs. Provide niche related solutions, suggestions, sources, services, and more.

Mistake #5: Too Much Focus on Selling

Emails that focus on making a sale tend to turn subscribers off. These types of emails often focus on a product or service and have multiple “buy” or “learn more” links in them. Instead of emailing about the product or service, email about the niche related problem your audience faces.

Help readers, who have the specific problem, see that they aren’t alone and helpless. There are things they can do to fix or make things better. In other words, give them hope and then suggest a well-researched solution or information that will enable them to discover other options.

The key is to make your email primarily focused on the people, their feelings, their needs, and the things that are important to them. Benefits of the solution or information you provide should be secondary and details about product features should come last.

Think in terms of one "offer" email for every three value-focused emails. Depending on the email, you could put a soft sell in the P.S.

For business emails, you can put how to request a quote, ask questions, etc. near the bottom of the email. You can also combine value-focused content with a product offer by showing a case study, unique installation/use, etc.

Mistake #6: Sending Impersonal Emails

Many things can make an email message seem impersonal. The tone and voice of the message plays a large part in how your audience perceives your message. It’s important to talk to your audience in a friendly tone. Your message should sound as if you are emailing a friend. Use “you” instead of “some of you” or other group references.

Begin your messages with a friendly greeting like, “Hi (readers first name). Start your message by saying something semi-personal about yourself that your readers can relate to. This should lead into your reason for emailing. End with a unique “signature closing” and sign your name.

Mistake #7: Not Including a Clear Call to Action

For each email that you send, you should include one call to action. It doesn’t matter if the call to action is for them to buy something, share something, download something, or sign up for something. Give them a clear call to action. Tell them what you want them to do next, which is click the link, and why they should take your suggestion.

Keep the number of links to a minimum of 2 or 3. Offer one solution per email. Your audience will get overwhelmed if you give them too many options and they will be unsure of what they should click on.

Mistake #8: Long Email Messages

While long articles are a good idea, long emails typically are not. Each email should cover one main point and contain only 2 or 3 links. If you have a lot to say, send them to a related post or article on your website to share additional information.

Remember that most people skim email messages, initially. It’s important to keep your messages short. You don’t want to lose the reader’s attention. Your audience may wait until later to make a decision. This gives them time to read the email more thoroughly.

The exception to this rule is if you have a loyal following and are sharing personal experiences and/or highly relevant and informative content. Just keep an eye on your open rates, click through rates and unsubscribes. If you're getting high open rates and CTRs based on your niche/industry and very few unsubscribes, then write away. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Mistake #9: Omitting Plain Text URLs

There are several reasons to include plain text links in your emails. In email, include a plain text link as well as a regular link with anchor text. Some email clients and apps don’t handle HTML as well as others. Email filters are less likely to send it to the spam folder when you have a smaller amount of linked text.

Many people prefer to see the full URL as well. It helps them see where the link goes. Providing both an anchored link as well as a plain text link makes your emails valuable no matter which format your readers prefer to receive.

Mistake #10: Skipping Email Testing

Writing and sending email seems easy. But, like other content, it needs to be planned, written, and edited. It also needs to be formatted and links added. Then, it should be tested, read, and edited again where needed. Most email clients allow you to test by sending the email to one or more addresses.

Testing each email before you send it to your list is very important. Look for readability issues, but more importantly, check those links. Checking the links and fixing problems, helps to reduce customer frustration and customer service time. It also helps increase sales and actions. When a link doesn’t work correctly, readers often click away and never go back to purchase or take the action you suggested.

Make it a priority to fix or avoid these top 10 email marketing mistakes. Keep your audience happy and coming back for more of your helpful information and solutions.

Bonus Mistake #11: Not Segmenting Your List

Below is an actual screenshot of a client of mine who was not segmenting their list based on subscriber interest. The stats for the two months shown at the top are below average for their industry. When we segmented the list to include only subscribers who opened any of the last 5 email campaigns for that specific newsletter, the opens and clicks more than doubled!

Above is an actual screenshot of a client of mine who was not segmenting their list based on subscriber interest. The stats for the two months shown at the top are below average for their industry. When we segmented the list to include only subscribers who opened any of the last 5 email campaigns for that specific newsletter, the opens and clicks more than doubled!

Keep in mind that certain types of segmentation require you to deliver specific content to that segment, so make sure you either have the content or the time to create it. Otherwise, you might need to limit your segmentation options.

Here are other some other ways to segment your list >>

Be sure to look at The Money is in the List for more about segmentation.

This article from Content Marketing Institute shows 35 email marketing mistakes >>