Resources Hub » Blog » 5 Email Marketing Mistakes to Stop Making (and What to Do Instead)

Here’s a stat you have likely heard before: email marketing has a 4400% ROI, which means you can get back $44 for every $1 spent.

But what if your campaigns don’t produce that kind of ROI?

Your campaigns may not generate results due to a few common mistakes in your email marketing strategy and execution.

Some of these mistakes happen because they are counterintuitive. Others because email works differently than other marketing channels.

But the fact is, email marketing works.

To help you save your email marketing from common struggles, here are five mistakes you may be making and a few suggestions on what to do to instead.

Mistake #1: Ignoring segmentation

Every week you design your emails with the latest articles and promotions, you add all the content, and you send it to your entire email list.

What’s wrong with that? Aren’t you supposed to send emails?

Well, yes, but here’s the problem with sending your email to all your subscribers:

Your subscribers aren’t all alike.

A middle-aged lower-income subscriber from Chicago behaves very differently from a young high-income New Yorker (but I assure you they probably both love pizza).

Another subscriber may like your brand so much she wouldn’t mind getting offers and news about your company. But another one, in contrast, doesn’t remember why he has subscribed in the first place and is thinking about unsubscribing.

Since you have limited time, instead of forgetting about segmenting all together, you should at least separate your audience in different groups that have certain similarities.

There are three main ways you can segment your audience:

  1. Demographic: This includes information such as age, gender, company position, and income level. You can use demographic data to tailor your message and increase the relevance of your emails, which also increases the effectiveness of each email you send. You can get most of this information during the signup process.
  2. Geolocation: Knowing where your subscribers are located can be powerful if you run a local business. You can use geolocation segmentation to send the following types of email campaigns:

    1. Time-based. If you have customers across different time zones, you can send the emails to adapt to their local hour. Who likes to get a promotional email at 4 am after all?
    2. Regional promotions. If you have several stores in different locations (within a city or region), you can send focused emails for discounts for people who are close to a store.
    3. Location-specific content. You can use the subscriber’s location to use it in your content, subject line, and images.

  3. Transactional: This represents those subscribers who have made past purchases and other related triggers related to their shopping behavior. Some examples of emails based on transactional segmentation include:

    1. Sending upsells and cross-sells that reflect previous purchases.
    2. Winback campaigns based on the time of last purchase.
    3. Discounts based on the price sensibility of a segment.
    4. Loyalty programs based on the number of purchases made.

If you need an extra push to convince you of the power of segmentation, The Direct Marketing Association found segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all email marketing revenue.

That’s enough to make you want to start using segmentation in your emails.

Mistake #2: Using a boring subject line

People get heaps of emails every day. How will your company stand out if your emails have unappealing subject lines?

The importance of subject lines isn’t a minor issue. 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone.

So making your subject lines click-worthy is a must-do.

One effective way to make your subject lines attractive is by using urgency. What drives the power of urgency is scarcity. People want what they don’t (or can’t) have.

If you specify that scarce object of desire, people will want it. In the case of subject lines, people will open the email to see how they can get what they don’t have.

You can also add urgency to your subject lines is by setting a specific deadline. If the offer lasts until a specific date, add it to the subject line.

Another effective way to add urgency to your subject lines is to include phrases such as:

  • Today only
  • Few products left
  • Last products available
  • For X hours only
  • 24-hour giveaway

It’s also important not to promise something that you won’t deliver in your email. It’s an easy way to get ignored forever.

Get the How to Be an Email Subject Line Superhero guide 

Mistake #3: Sending too many emails

One of the hardest tasks any email marketer has is to define how many emails to send their subscribers.

In 2015, TechnologyAdvice ran a survey in which they asked 472 U.S. adults, “For what reasons have you marked a business’ emails as spam?”

At first sight, you would have imagined their answers would include “irrelevant content” or “bad promotions.”

45% said it was because they received too many emails.

why spam emails chart

These same survey respondents also believed the best way a company can improve their email efforts was by reducing the number of emails sent.

How Many Emails to Send graph

So, the question now becomes, how many emails should you send?

Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong answer. One benchmark you can use is the one from the British chapter of the Direct Marketing Association’s, which in 2014 found the largest group of marketers (35%) send 2-3 emails a month.

DMA research: How Many Emails to Send graph

Another study done by MarketingSherpa found people like to receive a promotional email “at least monthly,” followed by “at least weekly.”

MarketingSherpa – Email Survey graph

Even though both surveys seem a bit contradictory at first, they show people like receiving emails from companies, but up to a point. You have to ensure your emails provide a benefit to the subscriber. Read the surprising data about how often to send promotional emails in this recent post.

To test the point of saturation, you can start reducing the amount of emails sent up to the point where you see a decrease in engagement and revenue. You can try the same but inversely: increase the amount sent up to the point the revenue decreases. Remember to communicate any changes in send frequency or cadence to your subscribers in advance.

Mistake #4: Sending emails inconsistently

As observed previously, some companies send too many emails to their subscribers.

But there’s another common mistake that many companies make:

They send too few emails.

This may be due to the fact some companies don’t see the value of email. Some still have a hard time understanding the value of email marketing and why they should use it. Other companies may not have enough resources to spend on email marketing.

Whatever the case, if your company sends emails irregularly, your subscribers may forget you.

The key to a successful email marketing strategy is consistency. That means, sending emails regularly. Whether that’s once a week or twice a month; people should be able to expect your emails at a given frequency.

According to Return Path’s ebook, “Frequency Matters: The Keys to Optimizing Email Send Frequency,” a lack of email consistency can cause several problems, including:

  • Poor or inconsistent sender reputation
  • Higher complaint rates
  • Lower lifetime value
  • Difficulties keeping your subscriber list clean
  • Increased risk of triggering spam traps
  • Lost revenue

The main benefit of sticking to a consistent email marketing strategy, is you build a relationship with your subscribers.

Think about your best friend from high-school.

How often did you see your friend? Every day.

Because you saw your friend every day for many years, you ended up creating a strong relationship. It’s not just that you shared many things in common; you saw each other all the time, so you ended up creating many great memories together.

Something similar happens with brands and customers.

You can’t expect someone to become attached to your company if you talk to these people once every few months. You need to be present.

That’s what marketers call being “top-of-mind.”

In a way, you create that awareness by being consistent.

Besides sharing values in common, you can only build a relationship with your customers by providing value.

Just like you can’t become friends with someone who’s not funny, cool, or interesting, you can’t build a relationship without offering something back to your audience.

You don’t need to make your audience laugh, but at least, you should be able to make them want to open your emails and read them.

Send them useful content, like articles or any educational piece, promotions and discounts, or even something cool that your company recently did, like launching a new product or service.

If you can provide value long enough (consistently, remember?), you will make your audience trust your company.

When customers trust a company, not only they are more likely to purchase from it, they will come back for more. According to Rare Consulting, 86% of consumers say loyalty is primarily driven by likeability and 83% of consumers say trust.

Mistake #5: Overcomplicating the design


Instead of overcomplicating your email design, you need to make it simple. Check out our email design checklist for helpful tips to create emails that convert.

Your emails should always be in sync with your brand and your overall design aesthetics but if the design lessens the impact of the content within the email, you may not get the results you desire.

Remember that email is a communications channel; the goal is to talk to your customers, to educate them, and hopefully, motivate them to buy from you.

Images and visuals are absolutely a critical part of marketing your product or service. If you didn’t add any images to your emails, it could be fatal to your branding and your conversions. The key, however, is to hit the right balance of content and images in a way that will benefit both your email’s performance and your subscribers.

To create a working email, its design should:

  • Be rich in images, without taking the focus off the content.
  • Have text. 43% of people have their images blocked by their email providers, so if you don’t add any text, almost half your subscribers may not be able to read your emails at all.
  • Make it responsive. Well over half of all emails are read on a mobile device, so you’ll want your email to be responsive for mobile, tablet, and other web browsers.

Take a look at the best email designs, and you will see they all have in common the fact they hit this balance perfectly.

Get the Really Good Email Design Guide & Checklist

Wrap up

You will make mistakes. The key is to be aware of them and ready to solve them using the tips in this post.







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About the Author Ivan Kreimer
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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