James ScottWritten by James ScottJul 02, 2018

Avoiding 9 Common Email Marketing Campaign Mistakes - Some Key Tips [Updated 2021]

1. Back up to your website for a minute
2. Overloading your recipients
3. Sending irrelevant content
4. Buying email lists – Just don’t do it
5. Boring subject lines
6. Being unfriendly or unprofessional
7. Delaying a campaign because of numbers
8. Failure to monitor the effectiveness of your email campaigns
9. Failure to clean up your lists

Useful tools:
1. Newoldstamp - Email signature marketing
2. Mailstrom - Tool for cleaning your inbox
3. Reply.io - Personal email outreach, calls, and tasks
4. Mailtrack - Email link opens tracking
5. Shift - Desktop app for streamlining all of your email and app accounts.

We all have the same problem. Our inboxes are filled with marketing emails, and, in our frustration, we may scan down the list, look for any that might be of interest or from people we know, and then just dump the rest in our trash. It’s fast, and we feel better to have cleaned out that mass of junk.

And this is why marketers are also frustrated with email marketing campaigns. In fact, many have come to the conclusion that they are a waste of time and money and have abandoned them altogether.

But here’s the thing: research shows that 90% of people who are online during the day check their inboxes at least once a day. With numbers like this, maybe dumping that email campaign was not such a good idea after all.

email vs social media

Maybe the solution is to be strategic about that campaign and use tactics that will get a larger open rate. And, of course, this means also avoiding the mistakes that are often made.

Here are seven mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Back up to your website for a minute

Where does your email list come from? First of all, it comes from customers who have made purchases and supplied their email address during the checkout process. But you probably have other email opt-in forms on your site, so that visitors can subscribe to a newsletter, special offers, etc.

Where are those opt-in forms located?

Are they at the bottom of your pages? Not a good place to be. Two things you can do to avoid this mistake:

  • Place your opt-in forms in a more prominent place on the page. Encase them in a colored box to attract the eye
optin forms

source: Fizzle

  • Place a link within the context with a CTA to opt-in. That CTA could go something like this: “Get more offers like these by subscribing to our newsletter here.”
CTA in blog

source: Buzzsumo

2. Overloading your recipients

As an email list is developed, we do all sorts of things with it.

  • We segment out recipients based on where they are in our sales funnel
  • We craft unique emails for each segment, even personalizing them by names
  • If we struggle with engaging content, we may contract with Essaysupply that specializes in creative copywriting, as well as proofreading and editing.
  • We automate delivery through any number of tools that are now available

But we often fail to understand that we can become intrusive and irritating if we send too many too often. When recipients see your brand as the sender every single day, they see you as more of a harasser than as someone who has important stuff to share.

And as this continues, the irritation grows. Ultimately, recipients either delete without reading, spam you, or take the time to unsubscribe.

too many emails in inbox

source: Smartrmail

Make sure you have a definite purpose for every email you send. You may have a weekly or monthly newsletter; you may run special offers you want them to take advantage of. The concept here is that you know what your audience wants and needs, you cater to those wants and needs, and you have a goal in mind for every email you send out.

So, you should understand the message the client would like to receive, check for the sources from where he or she gets the information, and send the message through that source. It sounds simple, but not so in action. Usually, people stop with typical client portrait’s data like sex or age. However, it’s not enough. It is important to find out the client’s habits and customs, as it would be a friend you drink a beer with. Only then you can use the benefits of email marketing, spread valuable information in a form that matches people’s expectations. Even use different lists or segmentation to understand who’s on your list and how to treat them.

3. Sending irrelevant content

People get irrelevant emails to their inboxes every day and it is a big problem. Just come through your mail client. How many emails would have never got a piece of your attention and why? The same happens with all your campaigns, and it does not matter how much effort have you put into them. If you do not share the content which is useful for your readers, does not explore the benefits of email marketing - so adiós, amigo!

Once you understand your user's needs, you should think of your email marketing campaigns and plan them carefully. Being based on your segments, define which information should go to which group. Make sure you support people with the articles, offers or advice that they need.

Also, you can wonder how people use your product or how they feel about it by asking questions through some quizzes? In this case, you can collect valuable user information for your future campaigns. For instance, if you’re selling clothes, ask about the size the person has and send only relevant offers. 

survey at the end of email

source: Mixpanel

4. Buying email lists – just don’t do It

Sorting and categorizing consumers has become a business all unto its own. And it is nothing new.

Years ago (and still today to some extent), companies bought mailing lists from marketing firms that claimed to have segmented audiences based on that company’s niche. So, a company would buy a list and send out mass mailings. A 2% “return” was considered a major success, but that was rarely achieved.

Now, online marketing enterprises are touting the same service for emails. And marketers are tempted to buy these lists. After all, other than the cost of the lists, an email is a rather cheap method of spreading a brand to a large new audience.

Here’s what you are doing: you are sending unsolicited emails to recipients who have indicated no interest in your product or service and who have not even visited your site. this is spam at its worst, and it will ultimately take a toll on your reputation.

Unsolicited emails are not welcome. They most often will be immediately deleted or marked as spam.

Get your email list through “legitimate” means – customers, those who have opted-in, those who follow you on social media, and referrals from current subscribers. Short cuts will not pay off and may do damage.

5. Boring subject lines

email subject line analytics

No one reads a news article with a boring title. Journalists often spend as much time creating their titles as they do writing the actual news article. You need to think like a journalist.

The big mistakes with email subject lines, according to Marketo, is that they are boring, they are not clear enough, of that they exaggerate what is to follow in the actual text of the email.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • You have to get creative. If that is not in your personal toolbox, then find copywriters who have the talent. There are also tools to use. You can provide a couple of keywords and get hundreds of potential titles/headlines.
  • Don’t ever promise in any subject line what is not actually provided in the email. You will lose trust, and once trust is lost, so is the customer.
  • Keep them short and intriguing – you want the reader’s interest/curiosity to be piqued.

6. Being unfriendly or unprofessional

The main goal of email marketing is to feel the person behind the screen, not a brand name. Be friendly with your customer and build strong relationships is the key to a successful email marketing campaign.

It’s impossible to list all of the ways to make your emails friendly, and it’s always best to evaluate each situation individually. So, try to fit yourself into someone’s shoes. How would you feel getting aggressive or unprofessional messages? Your readers are people like you, and they want respect and handy information. Make sure you are treating them well in every email, not pitching or trying to sell in every line. Here is the list of things you can use to make your email more friendly and professional:

  • Pay attention to punctuation
  • Always use greetings at the beginning
  • Avoid imperatives in the body
  • Use emojis if they fit well
  • Add a personal email signature at the end
  • Proofread your messages

Create professional email signature

7. Delaying a campaign because of numbers

Email lists grow slowly and progressively. And it is a mistake to wait until there is a substantial number before beginning to set up a campaign. 

You have customers who have made purchases. How are you thanking them or adding more value for them through special offers?

And, even if you have only a few subscribers, you should begin a newsletter. Every time you publish one, you will get better at it and more comfortable crafting articles and items that will be of interest. And, if you have sharing buttons on items in that letter, it may move onto others. You can also ask recipients to forward a newsy item to others.

You should also have an email thank-you that is sent to every customer and a welcoming email to every subscriber with a discount or free item. Waiting until you reach some magic number of subscribers means that you will lose some of those you do have.

8. Failure to monitor the effectiveness of your email campaigns

campaign reports

source: Mailchimp

There are many analytics tools you can use to monitor your emails – open rates, responses to offers, etc.

If you do not know which emails are triggering conversions and which are not, you won’t have the information you need, as you craft new ones. Clearly, you want to do more of what works and dump what does not work.

9. Failure to clean up your lists

If you are using the right analytics tools, you will have the information you need to identify those subscribers who frequently, occasionally, or never open your emails.

Not periodically reviewing this data and clearing out those who have not opened for a specific period of time, say six months, means that they are seeing you as a brand that is harassing them. And continuing to “harass” them means they will never return as a subscriber or a customer.

What you can do is this: Set up an “inactive” list, after you have cleared the “no-opens” from your campaign. Then, when a holiday comes along, send them a greeting with a special offer. Some may return; some may not. Keep this practice going. Receiving an email from you a couple of times a year will not be seen as harassment.

Email campaigns can still be very effective, if they are done right. There are some overriding principles as guidelines:

  1. Focus all of your email communication on the wants and needs of your audience.
  2. Provide your audience with valuable information and offers – things that will find compelling.
  3. Create engaging subject lines and provide exactly what that subject line indicates.
  4. Get your list cleaned out periodically so that you are not seen as a harasser
  5. Get your list segmented appropriately so that recipients are getting emails relevant to their needs and wants.
James Scott

James Scott is a past freelance writer, who has specialized in education, blogging, and digital marketing. As co-founder of StudyClerk, he remains a freelancer of sorts, although he is now far more than a “business of one.” A bit of a musician, a bit of a dreamer, and a bit of an introvert, James also spends time watching detective movies and refining his culinary skills.

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