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15 Common Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

Email Marketing Mistakes

Regardless of how much some people blow the “email marketing is dying” trumpet, the facts state otherwise. There is still a lot of life left in email marketing. In a recent study, 61% respondents said they read emails from companies. In another study, 77% said they prefer receiving permission based promotional messages. Email marketing also has its list of both do’s and don’ts. As important as following the do’s is, avoiding the potholes (don’ts) is equally, if not more important.

Here’s a list of email marketing mistakes you shouldn’t commit in your email marketing:

1. Misrepresentation:

“We just need to stay out of people’s way, place some Calls To Action (CTA), steer them in the right direction and everything will fall into place” – if this is what you’re thinking, then boy, are you wrong! This isn’t the best approach. It doesn’t measure up to testing and leaves much to be desired like the assumption of trust between customers and a company.

If you fill your email with exaggerated benefits and unfulfilled promises, people will desert you. The main things that run in people’s minds are if the email is worth opening and spending time to go through. It is the mail content that influences their decisions on these matters. Seeing people through your email’s subject line, headline, introductory paragraph and body is good but not the end. Build a conversation around your customer, not a process.

2. No connect between Email and Landing Page (LP):

The next step in the conversation is the LP the email leads the customers to. If there is total disconnect between your LP and email, customers will drop out of the conversation. You need to continue the conversation from the mail in the first two sentences on the LP. The content in the email is what made customers to come to the LP and that conversation is what they will be looking for there.

Your LP content should be interesting enough to hold the attention of customers. This is what your LP should provide while maintaining the same look and feel in terms of color and tone. This continuity is important both in format and content.


3. Overdose of content:

If you bombard your customers with too many offers and CTAs, they are likely to abandon the conversation. Numerous CTAs is a very common manifestation of overdose of content in emails. You are throwing as much content as possible at your customers instead of building a conversation. Because, you’re not confident in your content’s conversational capability. This makes your customers more confused than they would have been if you had given them just one option and conversation. It’s best to check if your email:

Is an exact replica of your LP (consistency in content is needed but if your LP includes the same content as your email copy, there is no value addition for recipients when they progress from the email to the LP)

  • Needs more than 30 seconds to read
  • Has the look and feel of a webpage
  • Has the look and feel of a magazine
  • Has more than one CTA.

If your email shows any of these signs, make sure it’s removed. To reduce content overdose, introduce value early in the conversation and show why acting on your content would be beneficial to customers.

4. Using words that trigger spam filters:

You need to be careful when wording your email. Though today’s spam filters are wiser than earlier ones, it doesn’t mean that your message will not go to the spam folder for including some particular words. Spam filters today look at more than your email subject line to decide if you are a spammer or not.

Here is a complete list of spam words you need to avoid.

5. Assuming that everyone on your list wants your emails:

Not all who are in your list want to receive your mails. Though they have opted for your emails themselves, things could’ve changed since then. They may have subscribed expecting yourEmail Overloading emails will be something which its not. Their interest will start waning after the first few emails and they don’t unsubscribe. People may also change their job or email address change or they may become disinterested in your content and don’t unsubscribe.

In both instances, people were once interested in your content and lost interest later and didn’t let you know. This is why relying on unsubscribes as a measure of people’s interest in your mails is wrong; you need to consider email engagement also. Monitor your email engagement levels periodically and try to engage people who’ve disengaged. Remove those who don’t respond to your re-engagement campaign.

6. Dreading unsubscribes:

People unsubscribing is like your email list being cleansed without you having to do anything about it. Instead of having a big list where many are not interested in your mails but haven’t unsubscribed, its better to have a reasonably sized list of interested people. If your unsubscribe rate is under 1%, you needn’t worry. It means your email list is being cleansed so that you have a healthy list and don’t have the problem of irritated customers marking you as spam out of sheer frustration.

7. Not thinking of email as a lead generator:

If you think that email is only a lead nurturing tool and not a lead generator, you are making a mistake here. Emails are also shared with others, and these others are not on your email list. Since your email will reach people who aren’t on your list, these are great opportunities for you to generate new leads. Go ahead and add social sharing and forward buttons to your email.

Email is a lead generator where it’s a combination of lead generation and nurturing – because you’re nurturing subscribers. For instance, if someone has subscribed to receive only email notification of new blog posts, you can also add in a lead generating CTA about your latest event in the email. You can promote a subscriber to a lead in your database with such emails.

8. Making your emails elaborate:

It’s better if your emails are plain. In fact, they can even be plain text mails. Doing this won’t let your recipients feel that you are marketing to them since they receive plain text mails from colleagues or friends. Such plain text mails are devoid of flashy graphics. But this may not work for all, for some plain text may be best and for others HTML will give better results.

Not using too many design elements/graphics in your mail is better. Emails with many design elements run into more problems than basic HTML mails with only 1 or 2 images. If it’s the images that are conveying the message and some recipients have turned off images by default, your mail message will be incomplete. If your recipients are seeing your mail on their mobile phones, the mail will take longer to load if it is design heavy. Even if they wait for your email to load, will it look the same as it looks on a desktop?

You may be a whiz at creating emails with cool designs, but its best to keep that in check and go for simple text mails. If you want to use design elements, test them out first and see if they are affecting your conversion rates in any way.

mobile email marketing

9. Disregarding mobile:

The mobile is here to stay and it will continue to do so for a long time to come. If your email is not optimized for mobile devices, regardless of how awesome your message is, people will not read it. Though mobile optimization means optimizing for different operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows etc), seeing the reach of mobile, it’s worth the effort. Most mobile users may not download email images and even if they do, the images may not display well. It’s best to use HTML text, with alternative text instead of images and also include a plain-text version.

10. Relying on open rate as an important measure:

Email open rate is not an accurate or correct reminder for knowing how many in your list opened your email. An email open is recorded when an image is downloaded. If your email recipients have blocked image download by default, the email opens can’t be tracked. If your email is opened on a mobile device, which defaults to a text format where images are not downloaded automatically, it leads to a dip in open rate.

It’s better to focus on click through rates on CTAs and leads generated from that email blast than open rate.

11. Disregarding customer requirements/knowledge:

Different customers have different requirements. Consider these when formulating emails. Segment your target audience and aim targeted campaigns at their problem areas. Especially when you have more than one product to offer, you should customize the message as per the customer’s needs.

Your rapport and interaction will not be the same with all clients. Some potential customers may already be aware of you, needing a more than basic introduction about you and some may not be aware of you at all. Segmenting your list and customizing your message will get you better click through rates and engagement.

Paying attention to customer needs and knowledge about your company projects you as being attentive towards their needs and which takes the effort to customize email messages.

12. Not modifying messages:

If your response rates are disappointing, you’ve to do something about it to avoid useless, expensive campaigns. A/B test your message copy and other variables so that you can modify your message and scheduling based on response rates.

13. No link to your website:
The aim of your email marketing is to increase sales with increased traffic to your website. Remember to include your company’s site link and also links to specific product pages in the email. Though your click through rate is proportional to the number of links, do not saturate your mail with links. This will tick off recipients. Decide on the number of links that bring best returns with A/B testing.

Email Marketing Timing

14. Irregularity:
If your email branding is inconsistent and people cannot place its source immediately, it is very likely that they cannot understand why they got an email and they may unsubscribe. Make your visual branding consistent using email templates and use one sender name when emailing to avoid confusion about the source.
15. Irrelevancy:
You’re sending your emails at the best time with total regard for recipients’ preferences. But if the emails are not relevant, you’re falling short of consumer expectations. Ultimately, irrelevance will result in unsubscribes. To remedy this, you can manually get feedback from customers, you can gather more specific preferences for better subscriber segmentation and track open rates and decide which subscribers should receive specific emails.

Have you hit any other road blocks en route to your email marketing destination?

November 15, 2012
By Team Position²