7 Major Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek closeup of woman using laptop with email icons superimposed on top of the image

Email marketing can be a great way to connect with your customers in a meaningful way. Plus, by building an in-house email list, you create a marketing channel that you control and can use to drive traffic to your website, increase sales, and more. In order for an email list to deliver results for you, it has to be built to encourage engagement and provide value. In addition, your email marketing efforts need to be in-line with what your list expects to receive – that means avoiding mistakes that would make them ignore, unsubscribe, or report your messages as spam. Here are several major email marketing mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1 – Setting No Expectations or Ignoring Expectations

If you want your email to be opened, read, and have engagement, then it needs to meet or exceed your recipient’s expectations. If you don’t set any expectations when people sign up for your email list, how do you know what they’re interested in and how do they know what to expect from you? Setting no expectations for your subscribers opens you up to a lot of unsubscribes and potential spam reports.

On the other hand, if you set expectations for your subscribers, they’ll be more likely to engage with your emails and stick around to continue receiving them. You will still get some unsubscribes and maybe a couple of spam reports, but you’re likely to get far less than if you set no expectations at all or completely ignored the expectations you did set.

Your subscribers should know from the beginning what types of emails they will receive and how often they’ll receive them. Then, it’s up to you to stay aligned with those expectations. After all, if you tell your subscribers you’re only emailing them once a month and then you end up emailing every few days, you’re likely to end up with a lot of unsubscribes and people who now have a negative view of your brand.

Mistake #2 – Forgetting About Segmentation and Personalization

When you start building an in-house email list and sending out emails, it’s easy to make of the mistake of sending out massive e-blasts to everyone on your list. If your subscriber base is big enough, this can get you some results. But, it also results in a lot of missed opportunities. You’re more likely to increase engagement with your emails and drive traffic to your website or increase purchases by segmenting your email list and also adding some personalization into your messages.

Segmentation allows you to target your message to specific demographics and interests to ensure the right message reaches the right person. Not only does this increase overall engagement for your email marketing efforts, but it also can reduce the likelihood recipients will unsubscribe. In addition to segmentation, you can also personalize your emails to further connect with your subscribers.

Simply adding the recipient’s name into the subject line can increase open rates by as much as 20%! You can also personalize the email further and help to increase open rates by sending it from an email address attached to a human at a company, instead of just a company, using time triggers, location triggers, and more. Personalization is just one of the ways to help generate more leads with email marketing.

Mistake #3 – Never Cleaning Up Your List

One of the keys to a successful email list is making sure your list has the data to support your efforts. Good personalization relies on clean, effective data in order to work. If you’re including recipients’ first names in your email subject line, you need to make sure that data is available and organized correctly in your list in order for it to work. You also want to dig in and prune your list periodically to remove inactive subscribers.

Most ESPs (email service providers) have built-in cleanup to remove contacts whose emails are undeliverable. CAN-SPAM regulations require you to provide the ability for recipients to unsubscribe. Aside from that, you want the subscribers on your email list to be engaged. If you notice there are subscribers who consistently have not opened emails or engaged in any way, it’s time to remove them or get creative with re-engagement emails to help gauge interest. A good re-engagement email will boost engagement from subscribers who want to continue your emails and encourage unsubscribes from those who don’t.

Mistake #4 – Sending Too Many Emails

Sending too many emails is a sure way to get your emails deleted more often, have more recipients unsubscribe, and get reported for spam more often as well. In a world where we are always connected, email can quickly become overwhelming. Sensible follow-up is one of the elements of a great email campaign and getting the frequency of sending emails correct can help you reach and engage with more of your list.

In the battle against an overflowing inbox and the quest towards “inbox zero”, your email marketing efforts won’t survive if you’re blasting your subscribers too often. Avoid sending an email just to send an email and make sure that it’s worthwhile and valuable to your subscribers when you do press “send”.

Mistake #5 – Focusing on Getting Value Instead of Providing Value

Focusing on getting value instead of providing value is a major email marketing mistake. With tons of competition and a landscape where the buyer controls their journey to purchase, you need to focus on providing value to them, not the other way around.

If your message is focused only on you and what you can get from your subscribers instead of what they can get from you, you’re in for low engagement, a lot of unsubscribes, and a bunch of potential reports of spam. Every email you send needs to clearly provide an answer to “what’s in it for me?” for your subscribers.

Mistake #6 – Ignoring Data and Running No Tests for Improvement

As your email list grows and you send more emails, you should have enough data to start identifying trends. You may discover that your emails are opened more often at a certain time, which may indicate that you need to change the time of day you send out your emails. When looking at heat maps or click maps, you may discover areas for improvement in your email design.

If you ignore the data and you don’t run tests to try to improve, your list may start to stagnate and performance could suffer. What if you could increase revenue with your email marketing efforts simply by changing a subject line, tweaking part of the email design, or sending it at a different time? If you don’t look at your data or run any tests, you’ll never know.

Mistake #7 – Not Designing Emails for Mobile Devices

More emails are opened on mobile devices than on desktop. This means that you’re making a huge mistake if your emails are not designed for mobile devices. Over 70% of people check and read their email in a mobile app. On top of that, mobile users tend to check their email three times more often than desktop users when viewed as a group! Plus, most users are also using multiple devices throughout the day. You can’t ignore desktop and you certainly can’t ignore mobile. It’s important to make sure your email is responsive so it looks great and is easy to use on any screen.

Email isn’t going away and can become a valuable marketing channel for your business. By avoiding these major email marketing mistakes, you’re giving your emails a better chance at reaching the right person at the right time and getting the engagement they deserve.

More often than not, email marketing drives subscribers back to your website to explore content or make a purchase. If your website doesn’t have a good user experience or is outdated, you’re likely missing out on a lot of opportunities. Contact us for a meeting of the MINDs to get your website and marketing efforts back on track!

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