A little more analysis, a little more insight… Exploring email marketing better

Top 15 email marketing mistakes to avoid and what email experts say

You very well know Email Marketing offers an astonishingly high ROI of 3800%. And the kind of convenience it offers is probably unmatched.

But that’s where lie some traps. Email marketing, when not done carefully, is fraught with risks. Too often, marketers send out emails without data on email marketing or without adequate detailing. And then it might backfire.

Here is the list of 15 major mistakes marketers commit in email marketing, and not finding out till it’s too late. The following infographic captures the essence rightly, while the following quotes from expert sources what they think of it.


1. Subject Lines:

This post on Subject Lines by MailChimp says,

A successful campaign starts with a subject line that grabs the attention of your subscribers. Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive, and give the recipient a reason to check out your content.  

Subject line is the first thing your subscribers read. No wonder it is extremely important to pay a lot of attention to it. Not using the right Subject Line makes a huge difference.

2. Segmentation

It’s always a great idea to segment your customers based on their needs, purchasing habits, geographic location and a host of other factors.  

Emails that target customers that share some traits create more impact. That not only shows you truly care and understand how their needs are different, but also manages to send the right message to the right people. 

Neil Patel once wrote:

Using the power of segmentation in my email marketing, content creation, and analytics has allowed me to give the best value to my customers.

3. Email address verification

Email address verification is extremely important. Among the many benefits of email verification, it tells you which email addresses are valid and which are dead. Based on that you can choose addresses to choose and email to. This step has arguably more long-term implications than any other in the entire process.

Using a cleaned email list means fewer bounces and fewer bounces mean more email servers will accept email from you rather than trash it.

A cleaned email list improves your ROI and cuts down marketing costs. This post on Medium shows why email verification and email list cleaning is very important.

4. Personalization

Personalization results in a deeper, more meaningful relationship with subscribers, and it’s worth using in your email marketing campaigns starting today!

CampaignMonitor wrote on how to use personalization in your email marketing campaigns. This data-rich post persuasively shows how marketers are successfully using personalization to create real impact and how little tweaking can tell you what you want to know.

Don’t forget that modern day tools have drastically taken away the complexity from the process, so you can get more engaging emails than ever before.

5. Unsubscribes

No matter what, you’ve got to respect your subscribers’ choices. If they wish to unsubscribe from your newsletter, you’ve got to do it. And do it real fast.

Some companies simply don’t pay heed and continue mailing even after multiple Unsubscribe requests. Of course, you could have taken action before the Unsubscribe button was hit, like this post from Marketo shows.

Just keep in mind that your emails should be able to help people solve problems, or be something that they can gain value from. In a world full of content saturation your prospects are not only receiving your emails, but they are also receiving 100s of others….

6. Call To Action

No marketer would miss out on a clear Call To Action (CTA). But it’s important to understand the psychology behind a great CTA, as shown in the guide by Emma. As regards the CTA, the guide clearly states:

Make it the Star of the Show. The CTA button shouldn’t compete with other buttons or content. It should be clear at a glance what you want visitors to do.

The guide covers practically everything you need to know, right from color and shape to the importance of brevity and placing of the CTA itself in the copy or on the page.

7. Optimization

Optimization starts with your Opt-in form and Pop-ups and doesn’t end till you keep measuring and correcting stuff.

A lot of times the answer to what works is “it depends.” And it does. However, there are some tried and true email marketing tactics that you can start with.

Here’s an awesome guide on optimization of your marketing campaign from AWeber. It’s full of simple, actionable tips.  

8. Strategy

Douglas Karr, in his post on analytics, shares the pain of marketers.

For many sales and marketing professionals, it’s a constant struggle to derive any actionable insights from existing data. The crushing volume of incoming data can be intimidating…

The post goes on to explain how data analytics can mould a stronger strategy for your business. What tool you use is important, but what is more important is to have a clear strategy.

9. Timing

Among the many hotly debated questions, timing of the mail seems one of unending agony for marketers. Studies conducted need to be understood carefully, as mentioned by VerticalResponse in its post on The Best Times to Send Emails:

So even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with it and click through or purchase.

Marketers need to keep experimenting to find the best times of sending out emails – who knows your recipients may be the exception to some rules?

10. No-reply addresses

Early on in its post on Why You Should Stop Using No-reply Email Addresses, EConsultancy makes the point very clear.  

Not only will your recipients conclude that you don’t care about what they’ve got to say, no-reply addresses also damage your email reputation and deliverability.

The post goes on to explain using No-reply makes you look arrogant. And in case some of you’re not convinced, the post points out that in many countries sending out emails with a no-reply address is not allowed.

11. Add Value

Don’t forget you’re trying to build a relationship with the prospect. And it’s not just one-time like some fly-by-night operator. That means emails that bring no value will not engage the prospect, and the only logical end is they opting out.

When you’re committed to providing value to your audience and stay focused on their success, you’ll have more people who want to hear from you and a better return from your marketing investment.

The above matter-of-fact statement is from a valuable post by ConstantContact. The post goes on to explain why, to get value from marketing, you need to give value.

12. Size

How long should your email be? 20 words? 5 paragraphs?

While we cannot all agree on one single number, there is general concurrence that shorter emails work better, given the fact that we are flooded with emails daily.

In this well-researched post on length of emails, Mike Renahan at HubSpot writes

But according to Boomerang’s data, emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%. Short and direct emails resonated best with prospects and earned a response. However, the numbers revealed a fine line: Emails that were 10 words or shorter got a response just 36% of the time.

13. Spammy words

Unknown to some marketers, some spammy words may creep into their email text if they are not too careful. GetResponse posted a truly helpful post on spam words some time back. It gave us a big list of words to avoid.

Now we’re pretty sure that you know the basic SPAM words such as “sex”, “drugs”, “Viagra” or “for free” and “no cost”. But there are many more words and phrases that can cause that your messages to be blocked by ISP SPAM filters, and the list grows longer every day!

It pays to stay clear of such words.

14. Images

MarketingDonut gave a detailed post on not only how to best use images but also finer points on how to control the reader’s eye over images.

What most marketers don’t take into account though is the direction the person in the image is looking. Testing highlights the important part this plays on the time a user reads your email and what draws their attention. Naturally a reader’s eyes will be drawn to exactly where an individual is looking/facing. This enables you to highlight areas of most importance, such as the most significant offer.

Images used wisely have always provided great traction to marketing efforts.

15. Overselling

We’re all in business and sure we’d like to sell. But making an effort only to sell without providing value is one of the most serious mistakes you can commit.

And it’s not always value addition. Sometimes, the smallest of changes in the copy can bring about massive changes. This post on CopyHackers describes a beautiful example of Rosser Reeves, the television advertising pioneer:

 (A friend and Reeves) came across a homeless man sitting on a bench with a sign. The sign read:

“I am blind.” Reeves bet his friend that he could make the homeless fellow more money by changing the words on his sign. With his revisions, the sign now read:

“It is springtime, and I am blind.”

Needless to add, the blind man’s collections increased.

The summing up

There’s a whole lot of stuff you need to do when you set out for successful email marketing. It’d be a great idea to fully understand the ins and outs of effective email marketing, in order to get more out of the resources you invest.

No doubt we haven’t been able to cover all the mistakes. Which mistake do you think are important but we’ve missed out? Don’t forget to share your experiences in the Comments section below!


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