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Email marketing has the potential to generate unmatched ROI for your business, but figuring out how to optimize your strategy isn’t always easy. There are lots of moving parts to keep track of, from tools and campaigns to analytics and testing.

All of these separate parts must come together somehow to make your email marketing work. That said, there are a few common obstacles that often stand in the way of getting your best results from email.

To help you keep track of some common pitfalls, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 email marketing mistakes that are costing your company revenue.

The top 10 email marketing mistakes to avoid right now

If you’re guilty of making any of these top 10 email marketing mishaps, don’t worry—you can still recover, learn from your errors, and improve your outlook for better email results.

1. Not including a call-to-action

Are you creating email campaigns and not telling your subscribers what to do with the information you give them?

If so, you’re missing the point of creating a campaign in the first place – to reach a particular goal. If your emails don’t help you move toward that goal, they’re pretty much pointless. They’re a waste of time and resources.

Luckily, it’s easy to optimize your emails to accomplish whatever you want to achieve. You can increase your website traffic, convert subscribers to leads, increase purchases, or get people to download your new ebook.

All it takes is persuasive email copy along with an effective call-to-action!

You can also think of a call-to-action as a clear goal for that particular email. Just ask yourself: what do you want subscribers to do with the content in the marketing message? That should be your call-to-action (CTA).

For instance, in this email from Chatbooks, the goal is to get customers to make a purchase. The company has a coupon code to help spur people to this action, so they used that enticement as the CTA text (“Save 20% Today!”):

2. Not using email list segmentation

If you’re not segmenting your email list, you’re missing out on an easy way to send more personalized emails to each subset of your subscribers.

For example, maybe a subset of your subscribers uses your service far more than others. Maybe you have a different subset of casual or beginning users, too. If you send the same emails to both groups, you’ll risk alienating them both with messaging that’s too broad and doesn’t resonate with their interests.

By contrast, if you send each group personalized emails, you can speak to them on deeper, targeted levels, which may equal more action from them on your CTAs.

3. Not writing your emails for the reader

Are your emails focused on your readers, or are they focused on you, your business, and your goals?

If you’re in the latter camp, you’re making one of the biggest marketing mistakes: forgetting your audience.

This is a big problem because your audience doesn’t care about things that don’t involve them. They want to know what’s in it for them, and if you don’t spell it out, they’ll lose interest.

4. Not automating emails based on user habits

According to BigCommerce, email automation is one of the most effective methods for email marketing. It helps you engage with customers at exactly the right moment when they’ll be most receptive to your marketing.

Here’s how it works: if you want to send new subscribers to your newsletter a welcome email or a series of emails, you create one email campaign designed to introduce them to your website and your best content or products. The email is triggered once the requirements are met (in this case, whenever someone new signs up for your email list).

In this vein, you can create all kinds of automated email campaigns. You set the criteria for the trigger, and when those criteria are met, the prospect will receive a targeted, personalized email at the exact right time. Less work for your team, more reward for the entire company.

And, according to data from Statista, personalized marketing is what users crave. 90% of respondents to an April 2017 marketing survey said they find personalized messages either “very appealing” or “somewhat appealing.”

Look at this welcome email from Broadway.com for a good example. It’s triggered after someone subscribes to their mailing list:


If you’re not utilizing automation, it’s time to start. It will save you time, help you develop relationships with your base, increase brand awareness, and personalize your marketing.

5. Not creating engaging email subject lines

It’s easy to neglect your email subject lines after spending time and resources crafting a beautiful email. After all, you’ve optimized the content for results and subscribed to all the best practices for email marketing, so you’re sure to see results, right?

If you neglect your subject lines, you could lose out on critical opens, which means your subscribers will never even see, read, or interact with your emails, regardless of how well they’re designed.

That’s bad for your email marketing because it means a wasted budget and wasted time. Instead, take the time to craft compelling email subject lines so your messages are irresistible from the very moment they hit your readers’ inboxes.

A few good tips include:

  •         Keeping it short and sweet
  •         Eliminating filler words
  •         Putting the most important keywords at the beginning
  •         Staying clear and simple

6. Not optimizing for mobile users

Mobile internet traffic accounts for over half of all internet traffic, according to StatCounter. That number surpasses traffic from desktop computers and tablets.

In other words, if you’re not optimizing your email marketing for mobile users, your messages will render poorly and not work on the majority of their devices. Not only are your subscribers likely to delete your email then and there, but they are also less likely to open your next one.

7. Not including text (or Alt Text)

If your email campaigns consist of nothing but images, you have a problem.

It’s this simple: lots of email users have their images turned off, which means they won’t automatically load in their browser. If your email is all images without text, the user won’t see a thing, and they’ll move on.

This email from Tick is a great example of how to include images and text seamlessly without compromising design:

Tick - Email Marketing Campaign - Announcement Email

Additionally, sometimes image links break. If it happens to your images, without text, your subscribers won’t see the message. Adding image alt text should be on your to-do list for every email campaign.

8. Not sending emails strategically

How often do your subscribers want to hear from you? Not asking this question is yet another major email marketing mistake.

Turns out, sending emails strategically isn’t about guesswork. It’s about paying attention to your target audience and segments, listening to their preferences, and offering options that cater to them.

For example, many brands offer a preference center for their list subscribers, allowing users to determine how frequently they receive emails. Once you start collecting this data, you can easily break your list into segments and use automation to follow-through, delivering exactly what your customers want.

9. Not cleaning up your subscriber list

The size of your email list doesn’t matter as much as how many of those people are truly interested and engaged in what you have to tell them. If your list is bloated because you have a big percentage of inactive subscribers, that doesn’t help your bottom line.

What does help your bottom line? Active, engaged, interested subscribers.

To that end, it’s a good idea to clean up your list every now and then. Think of it as “cleaning house.” When you prune your list and remove those who aren’t engaging with your emails, you’ll be left with the true fans of your brand and a much more powerful tool for marketing.

10. Not A/B testing your emails

Number 10 in our list of the top 10 email marketing mistakes: not A/B testing your emails.

Testing your emails is one of the simplest ways to gather data about your audience’s preferences. Once you know what designs, images, text, and CTAs are most appealing to your readers – you can build on this knowledge to create even more powerful, compelling, and exciting emails.

Wrap up

Are you guilty of committing any of the top 10 email marketing mistakes?

Think of these blunders like the “evil twin” of email marketing best practices. Each of these mistakes is a counterpoint to actions you should take, and things you should do to make your marketing as great as it can be.

Don’t worry. You can flip the script and pull your email strategy back together. Learn from these top mistakes, implement smart practices in your marketing, and your emails will have the verve and power you always knew they could.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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