15 Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

“44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email“. This is quite an impressive number. Email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing tools which requires a little investment and earns maximum ROI. But, if not done correctly, it can get you blacklisted. So, before you start with the traditional old-fashioned “batch and blast” approach, learn the most common mistakes marketers often make in a hurry to get maximum benefit out of this practice.

1. Sending Out Emails Without Permission

This is an absolute ‘no-no.’ Email is effective because it’s permission-based. But, many companies tend to bypass this rule just to reach out to a new audience. It should not annoy your audience.

You might say, at times, you like emails from unknown companies, whom you haven’t given permission to send you emails. But this happens in rare cases, mostly people tend to trash mails from unknown sources.

An email marketing list containing the addresses of only those who have subscribed for the emails from your company is called an Opt-in list. You should only send your mails to these listed people. Sending email to random people increases the chance of high bounce rate and a lot of spam complaints which is potentially harmful for your domain ISP and is even capable of getting it black listed. You should set up a preference center where users can adjust their email options.

2. Sending Out Emails Without Unsubscribe Option

In this information age, chances are, your consumers are overwhelmed with tons of information. Once someone subscribes with you that doesn’t mean he would like to continue receiving emails from you forever. There can be many reasons your subscribers might want to unsubscribe. Always make sure you have a clear unsubscribe option in your mail, to make it as easy as possible for people to leave your list if they want. So, no hiding from it either!

If you choose not to give an ‘Unsubscribe’ option in your email, your subscribers will start marking your mail as ‘Spam’ to stop getting mails from you. You also risk getting listed in their “Blocked Email Senders” list. And, if a good number of recipients do this, it will harm your email deliverability potentially. Your mails will start to hit the spam folder automatically, or even can stop getting delivered at all. In fact, in countries like United Kingdom, it’s illegal to send a mail without an unsubscribe option. If you still continue to send emails without ‘Unsubscribe’ option it can get you blacklisted.

3. Sending Mails Without Segmenting Receivers

Success of an email marketing campaign is highly dependent on the relevance of its content to the audience. Without a proper audience segmentation, relevancy can’t be maintained. If you do an email blast on the complete mailing list, it will hardly give you the desired results. Not only that, it may have negative effects too. For instance, irrelevant messages instigate the subscribers to get unsubscribed; as those emails only contribute to get their inboxes full without adding any value. Not only that, the campaign stats are also bound to be highly misleading as the mails were also received by wrong people who don’t even fall under the targeted audience of the campaign. Things like these seriously imbalance the ROI of the campaign.

“Email marketers estimate 30% of email revenue derives from targeting to specific segments.” – DMA’s National Client Email Report (2013)

It’s highly recommended to get the email list segmented before jumping into an email marketing spree. The segmentation can be done on the basis of geographical location, demographic attributes or purely on the basis of content preferences. Relevance of email content to the audience is highly sensitive to these parameters. Segmentation also makes it possible for you to personalize your content to the recipient’s preferences.

4. Over Targeting

Having discussed the importance of doing targeted email marketing, it’s necessary for the marketers to know that over targeting is also harmful. It may adversely affect your email marketing campaigns. Remember, you already have segmented your targeted audience, if you try to filter them again, there’s a very  high chance that you eliminate people who would have proved to be important for you to achieve a higher conversion. It’s not always right to target only the decision makers for the sake of it, as the influencers also play a very important role in decision making, take that into consideration while doing the segmentation.

5. Truncated Subject Line

Stats say, 33% people open an email solely on the basis of the subject line. Subject line actually creates the first impression on the recipients which largely decides the fate of an email. The chances of an email getting trashed rises, when the subject line is:

  1. Too long and obviously truncated
  2. Irrelevant to the subject 
  3. Unsuccessful to give an idea of the email content
  4. Created with words written in all capital letters
  5. Do not have a clear call to action

If you send out your emails with this kind of subject lines, your audience is less likely to open them. A mail not opened is a mail not read, and obviously your purpose is not served.  In a way, just a bad or chopped subject line is capable enough to ruin a whole email campaign. It has been seen, almost 58% people open an email with a subject line consisted of 10 or less characters. So try to keep it as short, simple and easy as possible.

6. Poor Content Copy

Content is no doubt the heart of every marketing campaign. This is the means through which you pass on your message to your audience. You can’t afford to go wrong on this. But unfortunately, on many occasions marketers make some vital mistakes:

Loading the Email With Lots of Content

Nobody opens a marketing email or a newsletter to read a full length story. They mostly intend to get a news digest from the newsletters or check the offers, promo codes sent in email etc. They are very much unlikely to scroll it down to read till the end. Most of them just read the subject and the initial couple of lines, that’s it. Remember, you just get 30 seconds or less than that to grab your audience attention, if they get the crux in these 30 seconds you have won them, else they will trash you. So, better count your words and try to keep it short and crisp.

Pushing Your Own Business Interest at the Cost of Your Audience

This is a very common mistake marketers often make. They keep talking about their services, their products etc. and forget that the audience is least bothered about them and their business. All they care about is, what is in it for them, the value you offer to them. After all, they are very much concerned about themselves. If it’s about you instead of them, you are most probably scrapped.

Great Offering without a Good Content Copy

This is something which can potentially damage your campaign response. You may have something great to offer, but if your email content copy is not good enough to grab their attention quickly, your audience might not check out your offers. They either will delete it without even opening it or if even they open it, they might not get through your offer due to the confusing content structure of your email copy.

7. Improper and Misleading claims

A false or a misleading claim is the biggest turn off for your audience. For example, if you have grabbed your customer’s attention by showing something really lucrative and when they try to grab the offer you show them something different altogether, you are ruining your brand reputation. They will never consider you for a purchase in future. In a way, you will lose credibility. Not just this, a misleading claim can potentially hamper your immediate conversion too. For example, if an e-commerce company sends out email with special sale offers ‘30% off on all products! SALE ending soon,’ and keeps circulating the same mail for a month or two,  it can adversely affect the campaign result in many ways:

  • Your buyers will feel they have been cheated
  • Your campaign fails to create the sense of urgency
  • Your words and messages lose their value

So, don’t lie or overpromise. ‘Limited time’ should really be limited; ‘Sale ends in 2 days’ should practically happen, it should not continue on the 3rd day or soon after.

8. No Clear Call to Action

Investing all attention on creating good content and an impressive visual email layout isn’t enough; if you forget to include a ‘Call to Action,’ it is an epic fail. Be clear on your purpose. Do you want them to avail a limited period offer or register for an event?

If you don’t make your offer clear or keep them wandering about what to do next, you will lose them. The whole purpose of creating an email campaign with lucrative offerings and useful promo codes will go in vain. You will lose an interested potential customer.

It’s not just enough to keep a ‘Call to ‘Action’ button, it has to be placed right too. Generally, people read the subject and top 3-4 lines of any business and promotional mail, if you don’t have your action button there you will lose on a good number of prospects. You may have more than one ‘Call to Action’ button spread over the mail, but there should be one in the beginning.

9. Sending Too Many Emails, Too Frequently

According to 2013 Consumer Views of Email Marketing Report, “35.4% of the consumers have cited higher frequency as their primary reason for unsubscribing from the brand emails. Still, a lot of publishers believe in the concept that says ‘Volume is the key to email marketing success’.

But, they tend to forget, sending email in volumes only work in one condition, when there is a ‘drop dead’ end date for the campaign. But for most of the businesses, email marketing is an ongoing process, intended to increase engagement with your potential audience. Engagement directly or indirectly leads to conversion.

A big number of emails hitting the subscribers inbox very frequently, results into a ‘declining marginal return on engagement’. Frequency and engagement are two negatively correlated factors when email marketing is concerned.

Tip: Find out the best frequency to send out emails for your business subscribers. Remember, it should neither be too frequent to get them agitated, nor too infrequent to be out of your customers’ mind.

10. Buying Email List

Wise marketers knows that buying an email list isn’t the right step to move forward. Still some newbies fall prey to those lucrative ‘opt-in’, ‘verified’, ‘real time’ ‘industry specific’ lists and consider it a shortcut to quickly grow their business. And, by the time they realize their mistake, it’s too late.

First of all, no established and reputed company will sell their email list ever. Secondly, and most importantly, its a matter of reliability too, nobody wants to breach their audience trust.

Even with ‘opt in’ lists, if the subscribers haven’t registered themselves to get email from your company, chances are, they will either delete or report the mail as spam. This will harm the overall deliverability of your emails, increase spam complaints, and most importantly it may even harm your domain reputation and get your IP address blacklisted. Unsolicited messages won’t get you your desired return on investment, if at all.

11. Sending Emails from a Personal Address

Personal email addresses are good for personal communications. But it’s a bad idea to send bulk emails from your personal mail ID’s. There are multiple reason behind this:

·  Your subscribers don’t recognize your company to be the mail sender at a glance

·  A marketing email from a personal ID doesn’t seems trustworthy so, the subscribers tend to delete it or report spam without paying much attention to it

·  Sending business emails from personal IDs doesn’t look very professional; it’s not even good for your company’s image too.

If you are doing your online marketing, it is perceived that you have your business domain. Creating your domain specific email address is not difficult. So, better use that ID for your email campaigns. You can even create different ID’s for sending newsletters, transactional emails or marketing mails.

TIP: Sending No-reply@ or DoNotReply@ sender email addresses too are a big No-No. If you send an email from one of these email addresses, don’t expect your open rate too be anything but poor.

12. Ignoring Timing

Timing is one of the most important factors for achieving good open rates. The whole effort of creating the right content, for the right people, goes in vain if the timing is wrong. But, the sad fact is, ‘In a rush to conduct business in Internet time, we’ve forgotten customer time.’ The marketers often forget to consider timing as a critical factor, because of that many a times the ROI suffers. Timing is important for many reasons:

Geographically Dispersed Audience

It’s very natural for an online business to have their audience spread across different time zones. If your business have one standard time for all your audience, it’s very much possible you are losing potential customer there.

Too Early or Too Late to Tap the Maximum Customers

If you have an offer to start after a month and you start sending emails announcing the offers, it’s natural that the customers will forget about it. Whereas, if a sale is supposed to end tomorrow and you start sending mails today, most of your customers will not be able to avail that in a hurry. Amazon.com has one of the best email marketing strategies with regards to timing.

Not Being Consistent

If you send out your newsletters regularly, you should have a fixed date and time for it. Otherwise your readers will check their mail expecting your newsletters and will get disappointed. This is not good for your brand image at all.

13. Sending Out Mails Without Testing Them

Marketers put in a lot of effort in creating an email campaign. But all these efforts are meaningless if they forget to test them. There are many things for you to check before hitting the send button:

  • Appearance of an email in different browsers and in the inboxes of different email service providers
  • Whether links are opening and working properly or not
  • Making sure the subject lines are not getting chopped
  • Checking if the mails are hitting spam folders instead of the Inboxes
  • Checking the email copy to make sure it’s absolutely error free.

Apart from these few things, if you use HTML designs, check whether the content is appearing in a readable format or not. If there is any problem, hold the campaign, fix it and then only go live with it.

14. Ignoring Mobiles and Tablets Readers

Email is the most popular online activity for every age group. And, a primary reason why it is such a more powerful customer-acquisition channel is mobile devices. Number of people checking their emails on phones and tablets have increased manifolds.

To go by numbers, almost 50% of the emails are opened on mobile devices only. For the marketers, this has become a very critical criterion to consider, as 64% of all the decision makers check their emails on these devices. The reason behind this huge popularity is the ease of access.

If your email designs are too complicated to take any action from mobile gadgets, your customers are very much unlikely to leave it unattended. So, it’s important to understand the power of the mobile readers and create a minimalistic design which is responsive & compatible with mobile devices.

15. Neglecting Email Campaign Reports

It’s always very important to track all your marketing campaigns to get an idea of it’s effectiveness. Email marketing is no exception. If you are not tracking your campaign results then you are committing a big mistake. As a marketer your target should always be to get better results through a campaign, and what you can’t measure, you can’t improve. If you just keep on sending emails to your subscribers without tracking your campaign performance, you won’t be able to notice the changes in your subscribers list and the actions they perform, which will ultimately affect your ROI.

You should always keep an alert eye on your subscribers list and check the open rates and click through rates; these are the factors which ultimately control the conversion rate. You should also track the changes in your subscribers list every time you send an email. Otherwise you won’t even realize when half of your list has become useless or the open rate has touched rock bottom.

You can also try little tweaks in the email templates and formats and do A/B testing to get an understanding of what works better & what not. It’s also important to compare your campaign results with the industry standards, this will give you a clear idea whether you are doing it right or wrong.

As it goes, “Intelligent folks learn from their own mistakes; wise folks learn from the mistakes of others”. Now you’ve got a list of most frequented mistakes in email marketing, so better learn from them.

Also, check out how to increase your email subscribers quickly.

5 Comments »

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  5. Its nice bunch of suggestions for email campaign..thanks for sharing

    Comment by Praveen Gowda — January 8, 2014 @ 11:57 am

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