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Email marketing mistakes

The common mistakes and how to avoid them

Email marketing is a great way to say in contact with your subscribers. Modern email marketing software makes it really easy to create, send and track professional looking communications.

However, it can be all too easy to make mistakes along the way that can damage the success of your email marketing. With that in mind, we've pout together our handy 33 pointer of all of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Email marketing mistakes; Quick Navigation

No call to action

A call to action is the request that you make of your email marketing viewer to do something, after reading your mailer. Lot’s of emails are sent out without any instruction to do anything. This means that your email marketing falls flat and really fails to engage with your viewer in any meaningful way.

A call to action should be big and bold and easy for your viewer to see and act upon. A clear call to action in your email really helps to maximise your email marketing engagement and conversions.


Email has too many call to actions

At the other end of the spectrum, often, email marketing can have too many calls to action, this has pretty much the same effect as not having one at all.

If there are multiple requests for the viewer to do different things after reading then this can be confusing and more often than not it results in your viewer doing nothing. If you viewer doesn’t engage with your email marketing, this can ultimately result in them unsubscribing.


Not using action words in your Call To Action

As we’ve previously discussed, the call to action is one of the most important parts of your email email marketing. As well as it being important to have a clear call to action, it’s equally important that is uses words or phrases that convey a sense of urgency, something that prompts the view into doing something.

Actions words could be words such as ‘click here to view online’ or ‘email us to confirm’, these phrases must be a clear instruction to do something.


Sending the same message

Often, if an email marketing campaign has been successful, then it’s tempting to send the same again, assuming it will repeat the same levels of success.

Sending the same campaign numerous times is something that lots of email marketers are guilty of. Your email readers will demand fresh content with each send, whilst it is ok to reinforce the promotion of a product or service with similarly themed mailers, sending the same mailer rarely repeats the same levels of success.

This often results in increasing numbers of subscribers choosing to opt out of future mailers as they feel that the content is repetitive.


Not verified sending domain

If you are using email marketing software, then verifying your own sending domain is vital, not doing this really has a significant negative effect on your delivery rates.

Verifying the sending domain, means adding a one line piece of text that adds a seal of authenticity to your send. If you are using a third party to provide the means to send - i.e email marketing software, then you are effectively sending via someone else - but using your own sending domain.

By adding this seal of authenticity, it effectively tells your recipient’s mail server that it’s ok to accept your email. Doing this really adds a lift to your email marketing delivery.


Sending from a generic email address

Achieving success with your email marketing starts with achieving good inbox delivery. If people aren’t seeing your email marketing then, no matter how good it is, it won’t be working to it’s full potential.

It’s quite common for mail filters to be set to send anything to the spam filter that looks like it might be generic email marketing. One of the key triggers for this is the send from address that you are using to send your email marketing.

Lots of email marketers send using addresses such as marketing@, sales@ or newlsetter@. These generic addresses often trigger spam filters. Your email marketing will achieve much better delivery if you send it from your name@. Marketing from a real person, as opposed to a generic also has much better engagement with your viewers.

At Email Blaster, we have a feature called 'sender profiles' that allows you to create the perfect send from address at your company domain.


Subject header line is not engaging

The subject header line plays an instrumental part in your viewer deciding if they are going to read your email marketing or not. If the subject header line does not grab them then generally your email marketing gets deleted or ignored. The subject header line is often left until the last minute to write. It can be the most overlooked part of an email marketing campaign. It really is worth taking the time to come up with a subject header line that sparks the interest of your viewers.

Split testing is a very efficient way of coming up with a subject header line that really works. This involves taking a small quantity of your email marketing list and sending them the same campaign but with different variants of the subject header line. This is a great way of researching which one works the best, prior to sending out to your whole database of email addresses.


No data housekeeping procedure

Your email database, will over time change, people will change jobs, domain names will expire. All of this means that over time you will have a degree of wastage with your email database. It’s a really good idea to regularly take the time to cleanse all of these bad addresses from your data, a high bounce rate means that your email marketing sender reputation will drop. A poor sender score will impact the delivery of all of your future email marketing.

In terms of list cleaning, it’s also worth removing all of the people that are not engaging with your email marketing. If you have a number of people who are not opening your mail or clicking on links then this is definitely worth addressing.

Poor engagement with your mailer will also affect your sender reputation. As we’ve previously outlined, a poor sender reputation will have a significant negative effect on your delivery rates.


Data has not been qualified properly

Poorly qualified data is a common mistake. The assumption can be that email marketing is all about sending out as many emails as possible, in the pursuit of building large databases of email addresses. Often there is little or no time spent in qualifying these recipients to find out if they are the right demographic for your product. Assuming that everybody will be interested in your product is a mistake that often wipes out any success at all.

Email marketing is most effective when it’s sent in smaller batches to properly qualified contacts. If people aren’t qualified, then they won’t engage - and as we’ve previously discussed, low engagement results in a poor sender reputation.


Not segmenting data

If you have a range of products and services, then you could see that some people are interested in some of your products but not others. As email marketing is all about sending the right products to the right people then it’s really important to take a look at how these people are engaging with your send and acting on it.

This means that you could consider making separate lists of people, based on their specific areas of interest. So you could segment your data accordingly - this really helps to make your viewer feel valued, resulting in higher engagement, higher conversions and better delivery rates.


Using purchased data

Generally the issue with purchased data is that as it’s sold based on a total of email addresses - these lists can be padded out with lots of erroneous data, to make the count of email addresses as high as possible. Sending to a list such as this has no benefits at all, ultimately it results in a low sender reputation and very poor delivery.

Purchased lists, due to their make-up often contain spam traps also. These are addresses floated on the internet by filtering companies in order to blacklist spammers. If your email marketing hits one of these spam traps, then it will result in your company domain name being blocked from sending emails.

These lists are also typically made up of email addresses who haven’t given their consent to be sold on. Sending out emails to people who have not asked for them eventually results in your company domain being blocked.

So, the rule of thumb here is to avoid purchased lists, they cause more harm than good. Always take the time to build your own lists, containing people who want to receive your emails.


Important information embedded inside an image

Some people have their email browsers set not to show images by default, they have to click to download and view images. This means that any images that you have will not be displayed without the viewer confirming that they wish to do so.

It’s great to have images, as they can really reinforce your brand and your sales message. It is worth avoiding having important contact information embedded inside an image though. Without seeing the images, your viewer needs to be able to see important information, such as your contact info and company name without having to click to download an image.


A common mistake made by lots of email marketers is not spending time looking at the results of their send. Often, as email marketers as soon as our broadcast has been sent, we are then focusing on the next one.

Looking at the campaign stats in your software's analytics will provide lots of vital information that means we can then fine tune our future sends, making adjustments depending on how well the last one was received.


Not optimised for mobile

Over the past few years, the default device for viewing emails has been the smartphone, it has overtaken desktop and tablet as the preferred device. This means that the way we structure the look and feel of of email marketing needs to accommodate viewing on a smaller screen.

So it’s worth making text slightly larger and keeping image file sizes down to a minimum, in order not to take too long to download and view via a cellular network.


Too much text

Nowadays, all of our inboxes are pretty crowded places, with competition for your viewing time being in great demand. This means that we need to tailor our email marketing accordingly. Our viewers are often unwilling to invest longer than 30 seconds or so reading text.

Often, our viewers are dissuaded from reading when faced with large blocks of text. In today’s inbox, emails with lots of text that require more than a cursory skim read are deleted.

So it’s a good idea to keep the amount of text in your email marketing as brief as possible. Use short sentences and small paragraphs. If your mailer looks like an easy read - then the chances of it getting that all important viewer engagement are significantly boosted.


Not checking for spam content

When you send your email marketing, your recipient’s spam filter will read your subject header line and body text. Based on the amount of phrases that are classed as spam, it will then decide if your email is delivered to the inbox or junk.

Spam phrases can typically be words or phrases that are deemed to be very ‘sales’ related, these could include: discount, promotion, click here, unbeatable offer, free and offer. Using these (and similar) phrases will dramatically increase the chances of your email marketing being delivered straight into junk.

It’s a common mistake not reading through your text and looking for these phrases prior to sending. By not doing this, it can make even the best looking mailer fall flat on it’s face.

Modern email marketing software will contain a spam checker app that auto scans your mailer and highlights any spam phrases that need to be removed. This is a really handy tool that makes pre-flight checking a simple process.


Sending infrequently

Successful email marketing is all about building trust with your viewer, a vital part of building this trust is sending at regular intervals. If you email becomes expected at certain time intervals then conversion rates are often greatly increased.

If you send infrequently, it’s quite common to see unsubscribe rates increase, as your viewers may have forgotten that they signed up to receive your mailer. By sending infrequently, you have to build up the trust required to trigger engagements again.


Poor spelling and grammar

This one is something that most of us are guilty of at one time or another. We are, all too often so focused on what our mailer looks like that we miss the little things like typos and poor grammar. Sometimes, if you look at something over and over, you can become ‘word blind’, you’ve seen your design so many times that you just don’t see any rogue typos.

Sending out a mailer with spelling mistakes in really does send out the wrong signals to your viewers, it can make you look unprofessional or careless. This really can cause damage to that all important trust factor.


Not using social media effectively

Email marketing is a great way of keeping in contact with your subscribers, but coupling it with social media is often overlooked. If you use it in conjunction with your social media, it really can broaden your reach.

Reposting your email marketing via your social media feeds is quick and easy to do, but few email marketers do it. You can also use social media to collect more opted in subscribers to your email marketing lists, running competitions on social media is a great way to do this.

Modern email marketing software, will have an inbuilt social media app, making it really easy to post your email marketing directly to your social media feeds.


Sending with attachments

Sending out email marketing with attachments can have rather disastrous effects on your delivery rate. Lots of viewers are sceptical about opening attachments sent via email marketing, as often this method can be used to transmit viruses and spyware.

This means that it is quite common for your email marketing subscriber’s spam filters to be set to filter this type of email into junk.

So, it’s best avoiding sending with an attachment. Using click-through’s contained with the body text of your mailer is a much better way of directing your subscribers to content outside of the inbox.


Using cliched sales terms

As we’ve previously looked at using sales terms in your body text can trigger spam filters. There is also another negative attached to this; it’s just not the kind of content that is successful in increasing conversions.

Using phrases such as “don’t miss out, once in a lifetime offer, you must act now” really doesn’t work, people see this as quite forceful and in some ways intimidating. It’s much better to use a friendly conversational tone in your email marketing.


Not personalising the text

Not personalising what you send really does impact engagement, your recipient doesn’t want to feel that they are part of a large scale marketing campaign and that they have been sent exactly the same content as thousands of other people.

Most modern email marketing software will allow you to mail merge in personalised information with your broadcast. This means that each of your recipients will receive something that can refer to them by name and perhaps contain personalised information about previous interactions or purchases. .


Using too many images

Email marketing can be very visual, it’s quite easy nowadays to use a drag and drop email builder to make something that looks really visual. It’s important to find a good balance though, if you use too many images then this can tread on the toes of your sales message. Sometimes really important text can be lost in a sea of bright images.

If your viewer cannot quickly understand the main thrust of your marketing - then they won’t engage with it and may unsubscribe. Images are a great way to reinforce your sales message, but don’t use too many that it detracts.


Not split testing

With email marketing, there are a whole host of tools at your disposal to really create something that can be incredibly successful. One of these tools is split testing.

Split testing is sending something different to small samples of your database and through analytics, observing which variant works the best. Split testing is a great way to find that all important magic formula of which email marketing design and content that works best with your subscribers.


This is such an easy one to fall foul of, when sending your campaign, most email marketers look at the visuals check the colour and branding are correct, check the spelling - but often forget to click on the links contained within the mailer. As we can’t see the address of these links on screen, it’s all too easy to overlook checking them.

Nothing frustrates viewers more than clicking on dead links, this often results in a very high unsubscribe rate.


Going in without a plan

With any kind of marketing, you need a decent plan to follow, email marketing is no different. It’s a good idea to have a plan of what you are going to send and when - this should have a flow to it that gradually builds trust with your viewers, resulting in increased interactions.

If your email marketing doesn’t have a plan, then it can seem directionless, it is also easy to fall into the trap of repeating yourself.


Leaving it too late to write copy text

Any good email marketing software will make it easy to create something visual, drag and drop technology means that it is easy to use images and graphics. It’s quite easy to get wrapped in in the creative and visual elements.

The copy text is often the thing that gets left to the last minute, often creative agencies will insert this at the last minute, just prior to sending. Without planning and split testing the body text, it’s really difficult to come up with something that works.

Text that is written quickly when you are up against the clock often fails to really hit the mark. Your copy text needs just as much planning as the visual elements of your mailer.


Sending unprofessional looking emails

Having the tools to create our own email marketing doesn’t necessarily mean that we are the best equipped to design something. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile calling in the help of a professional designer to come up with something that looks slick and delivers your message clearly.

Sending out a mailer that looks unprofessional is a sure fire way to guarantee that your email marketing conversions will be low. A mailer that has an amatuer look and feel really undermines the quality of what you are selling. It’s really important that your mailer oozes quality and uses proven techniques in terms of layout and design. A professional will be able to utilise all of these skills to really give your email marketing engagements a decent lift.


Not automating your email marketing

The big problem with marketing is that generally companies only really do it when they are quiet, when they are busy often time and resources are stretched and then regular marketing goes out of the window.

This approach means that your email marketing is very sporadic and nowhere near as effective as it could be.

Modern email marketing will have an automation app, using a tool such as this, you can automate the sending of your email marketing so that you can set it all up when you are quiet. This means that no matter how busy you get, your email marketing is still being sent out at timed intervals.

Automation can go a stage further than that. It can be used to send a series of email marketing campaigns based on a trigger point, i.e when a new subscriber joins your list of subscribers. It can also be used to trigger decision based email marketing, so if a subscriber clicks on product number 1 (out of a series of products), they can then be sent a series of mailers that are purely focused on product number 1.

Not taking advantage of this easy to use technology is really missing an opportunity to maxmise conversions.


Email has no personality

When writing or designing your email marketing, it’s really to miss injecting any personality into it. If an email doesn’t have any personality, it can seem cold and unfriendly. Emails written in this manner often fail to maxmise conversions as it fails to spark any interest with the viewer - they don’t really develop any bond with the product or the company.

If your email has a friendly, personable tone to it, this really helps to engage with the viewer. It really helps to convey that the email was written or designed by a person, not a faceless marketing company or an algorithm.

Taking the time to write from the heart really helps to inject personality into your email marketing. Emails written in this way really work well.


Personalisation errors

Personalisation is great, but it needs to be correct. When it goes wrong, it really looks terrible and comes across as extremely unprofessional to your viewer. Nothing looks worse than receiving an email that says Dear “Insert name here” or an email addressed to somebody else’s name.

When dealing with a database of anything more than a few hundred names, it’s easy to make these mistakes. If you are using a mail merge then sometimes blank fields can cause it to get out of sync, so if record number 7 is John Smith, your email marketing could go out with to John Smith but addressed to the details of record number 8 (a completely different person). This mistake is easy to do and very frequently made in email marketing.

Sometimes, when qualifying our data, we may not have the person’s name. So the person qualifying the data may have put a place-holder in the name field such as “No name given”. The intention of course being to go back and get the nam later. Not rectifying this means that your email marketing would then go out addressed to Dear No name given.

Errors such as these with your email marketing are easy to make and can cause quite a bit of damage.


It’s quite common for email marketers to think that one of the objectives is to keep the unsubscribes down to an absolute minimum, one of the techniques used to do this is to make it difficult for people to find the unsubscribe link in your mailer.

Employing this technique is incredibly frustrating for the viewer and really fails to address the question of why are they looking to unsubscribe?

If people want to unsubscribe from your email marketing, they are looking to do so because of one of the following reasons:

  1. They haven’t been qualified properly and your product is not right for them
  2. Your text/design doesn’t appeal to them
  3. It looks unprofessional
  4. It has mistakes and or errors in it.

By addressing these questions and using an unsubscribe link that is clear for people to see, the number of people clicking that link will be greatly reduced. Not giving them an easy to find option to unsubscribe is frustrating and often results in them complaining to their email service provider or the sender of the email.


Not reminding people of how they opted in

Sometimes, people forget asking to receive your mailer, if they do, then they often unsubscribe or mark your send as spam. If they don’t remember asking to join your list then they can feel that you email marketing is unsolicited spam.

If you include a small piece of text at the top of the page, reminding people of how they subscribed then this really. Often we just forget - this text at the top really helps to jog the memory.

By doing this, the number of unsubscribes is reduced and the engagements increase.


Email marketing mistakes summary

By avoiding these all too common pitfalls, your email marketing will be successful; engagements and conversions will be consistent and healthy.

It’s all too easy to make a few mistakes along the way, so hopefully this guide will unlock the door to really great email marketing. If it’s used properly, email marketing can be a central part of a successful inclusive marketing strategy.

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