Common email marketing mistakes you may be making

With the pace at which the digital marketing environment changes and requires you to adapt, it never hurts to pause and review if you’re giving email marketing – one of the hardest working of all marketing channels - the necessary love and attention.

email marketing

With so many emerging digital audience touch points and the ever present pressure to be present on every new social media platform, it’s easy to let your focus slip from older channels such as email marketing. Best practice and the brilliant basics often become the first casualty when time and resources get diverted towards the next big thing.

Here are some common email marketing and list management mistakes to be aware of:

You’ve let your list management and growth tactics go stale

You’ll lose subscribers and fail to pick up new ones at the desired rate from time to time. There is a natural rate of attrition when it comes to email marketing as subscribers change email addresses, decide to cancel their subscriptions or send your messages to junk.

You must therefore regularly allocate time to maintaining and growing your subscriber list. For existing subscribers, that means committing to serving up great content. To build your list, you need a strong opt-in incentive.

If you’re guilty of installing a sign-up widget and then calling it a day, you’re making a common email marketing mistake. Be creative with your incentive to get your activity back on track. Try exclusive subscriber-only content, coupons, discounts and competitions.

You don’t have a regular schedule of sends

If you’re afraid of contacting your list too regularly, or fear sending out more than one or two emails a month, you’re probably committing our second cardinal sin of email marketing.

Getting over the fear of spamming subscribers to reach a point where you have a regular schedule of sends can be tough, but you need to reach out with relevant email sends often in order to see any kind of return from your email activity. Too few sends and you’ll lose the connection with your customer and leave them wondering why they bothered to subscribe in the first place. Too many, and you could end up on the wrong side of the spam filter. Find the sweet spot.

You’re guilty of not personalizing your welcome and transactional emails

This mistake is one that many brands will be guilty of, but it’s also really easy to put right – meaning there is no excuse to continue committing this faux pas once you realize! Your email platform or list management service was likely chosen because of its convenience and ease of setup as well as its functionality. Commonly, a template email will be provided to welcome new subscribers and confirm their opt-in. If you’ve failed to personalize that message, you’re guilty of getting off on the wrong foot with your email subscribers.

The email onboarding process should be given as much importance as your main send content. It should be reflective of your brand and give those who have trusted you with their email address a flavor of what’s to come.

Make sure your welcome email is on brand, engaging, interesting and personalized. It should go beyond the default ‘thank you for subscribing’ copy. Use this as an opportunity to cement your newfound relationship with the subscriber, rather than simply a transactional box to be ticked off.

Not optimizing your email strategy for mobile

Data shows that over 50% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. If you’ve left your mobile optimization activity on your website, and failed to follow through when it comes to your email design and content, you’re making a common mistake.

Check that your email design template is responsive. It should look good and be easy to use on a mobile device.

Ensuring that your email template design and content is succinct is a winning strategy and basic rule of thumb for mobile email. Too complex a design is a click through killer as it means calls to action get lost, content is difficult to digest and readers as a result, quickly lose interest.

Remember that smartphones are almost all based around a touch screen UI. This tech consideration means you want nice prominent call to action buttons or linking images. Design them so the reader can touch and go. All emails and landing pages should be tested on a variety of the most popular mobile devices. Not only do you need to do this to safeguard your user experience, you also don’t want to put effort into creating and sending emails that some or all of your list won’t be able to access due to their mobile device preference.

You’re NEVER lost for words

Hands up if you’ve fallen into a vicious cycle of failing to email often enough and then overcompensating by filling the messages you do send with a backlog of information.

Be concise and get to the point quickly. Determine how many points you want to include as a maximum on your email marketing messaging and stick to it. Let promotions and other big news pieces speak for themselves. Don’t  introduce other content or take the focus off of the point of the email.

Too much content in an email is off-putting. Numbered lists help readers to digest information. This increases the likelihood of them opening your next email or forwarding to a friend.

Here’s an excellent example courtesy of the weekly newsletter from are ticking off lots of best practice guidelines with this email. Clear images and minimal text. List based titles and easy to click links. It’s attractive and well-structured for mobile devices. email

Email marketing has progressed in some areas in recent years but the brilliant basics have remained very much the same. Continue to put the required effort into these areas and there’s a better chance your email marketing will continue to be a fruitful channel that does a good job representing your brand and keeping your audience engaged.

Make sure these areas are covered before moving on to more complex email marketing functionality or diving into too many other marketing channels.