Mistakes happen, whether you’re an email marketing newbie or seasoned professional. Knowing how to avoid the most common mistakes and how to mend the situation if you’ve made one, are the first steps towards turning your next campaign into a huge success. This is our guide on email marketing mistakes you definitely want to avoid!
Sending an email campaign is a great investment and an opportunity to deliver targeted messages to people that already love your brand. Email is one of the most reliable forms of communication and it would be a shame to waste its potential by committing a common faux pas.
To help you make the most out of every email you send, we’ll have a look at these mistakes and discuss best practices you can implement to steer clear of them.
This article is part of our email marketing series. If you’d like to learn more, check out the following, related articles:
- How to create click-worthy automated email campaigns
- A guide on measuring email marketing performance
We’ve compiled some of the most common email marketing mistakes we see businesses make and explain how to avoid them. Let’s dive right in!
Choosing the Wrong Type of Email
Your strategy to welcome a new subscriber or recover an abandoned cart is based on a single email? Looks like you’re missing out on a massive opportunity!
Choosing the most effective type of automation depending on your goal can make all the difference. Automated series with an average of three emails and single email automations are both based on predetermined triggers.
BUT: Whilst single email blasts are great if you need to confirm a newsletter subscription, they often don’t cut it when it comes to enhancing opportunities to engage in more meaningful ways. Building a conversion pipeline requires time, effort and persistence.
You’ve probably at one point or another in your career, heard of the famous “Rule of Seven”. It’s one of the oldest marketing concepts and explains that a prospective customer has to see your particular marketing message seven times on average before they take action, purchase from your online shop or send an inquiry.
And that’s where automated series get to really shine. They help you build a relationship with your customers and create a long-term connection over time.
Using Unpersonalised Email Templates
Email marketing services allow you to personalise your communication with your subscribers. It’s one of the main reasons why email marketing (when done right) is such a huge success: Personalised campaigns drive 18 times more revenue compared to cookie-cutter emails. By choosing responsive emails, you’re setting yourself up for success.
If “personalisation” sounds a bit abstract to you, imagine the following: Think about how great it makes you feel when you walk into your favourite coffee shop and the barista greets you by your first name. It makes a huge difference in how you’ll remember the experience and makes you a lot more receptive. You’ll probably leave the place with a latte in your hand and a big smile on your face. Same holds true when you’re receiving an email (except for the coffee maybe).
This is how ING Australia tackles email personalisation with a direct subscriber shoutout in the subject line:
Here are a few things you can personalise in your email campaigns:
- Copy, such as the use of first names subject lines and headlines
- Imagery, based on customer data on location, gender and even weather patterns
- Special offers, for example, based on your customer’s interests or brands they love
- Product recommendations, based on products customers previously purchased
Using Poorly Written, Salesy Copy
Writing email copy that converts isn’t as easy as you might imagine. Making your product or service sound appealing to your customer, without being too salesy is an art that requires a lot of practice. The key to writing great email copy is keeping it simple.
Copy should be as clear and concise as possible. We’ve learned that it really helps to start off by focusing on a single audience and goal. Another trick: Try to image yourself explaining to your best friend what your product does. Avoid fluff words, use active voice and write short sentences to keep things natural.
Before you hit “Send”, double and triple-check for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It’s best to bring in a co-worker with a fresh pair of eyes because, after an hour of staring at the same two paragraphs of text, it can get difficult to see what’s right in front of you.
Notion does a great job with this very friendly, yet professional message that almost makes it seem as if the subscriber and sender were really good friends:
Not Having A Clear Call-To-Action
What use has an email that leaves its receiver thinking: “All good, but what now?” If you forget to add a clear call-to-action (CTA), you’ve probably wasted the time and effort you spent on crafting this email. Your subscribers are undoubtedly very smart people, but they can’t read your mind.
Don’t leave it up to them to figure out what to do with your message. Chances are, it won’t be what you had in mind. Before you even start drafting your email, have a clear idea of what action you want your audience to take. Then, match the email’s copy, images and design to that intended outcome.
Here are a few boxes that a good CTA should tick:
- The CTA is easy to locate. Add a “Read More” or “Shop now” button in a distinctive colour and position it prominently.
- There is only one specific CTA. Have one, very clear CTA. Don’t confuse the subscriber by giving them three different tasks in the same email.
- It uses first-person possessive determiners. The use of “my” gives people a sense of ownership.
- The CTA is repeated at least twice. But only when it’s appropriate.
Sharing Incorrect Information
Have you ever experienced that “Oops” moment after sending an email? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and understand that the idea of hitting “Send” just as a typo or an incorrect date catches your eye, can be mortifying. Truth be told, sometimes you just have to accept a typo. Most subscribers are very forgiving and won’t be cross. They too understand that you’re only human.
But, if your mistake could have serious implications for your campaign or business, you should act quickly and follow up with an apology. Your response should address where you made a mistake and correct any incorrect or missing information.
Here are a few email marketing mistakes that are easy to make (so look out for them!):
- Sending an email to the wrong subscribers
- Links don’t work or link to the wrong page
- Having incorrect dates for sales, competitions, events etc.
- Faulty or misleading discount codes
- Unintentionally offensive or insensitive content
- Accidently sharing private data
Here is what an apology email could look like in real life:
Source: Really Good Emails
Forgetting About Segmentation
If you’re sending one and the same email to your entire list, you’re (and we’re sorry to say it) doing it wrong. For example, would you as an online fashion retailer, advertise a new line of women’s clothing to your male customers? If your answer was no, you pretty much got the gist of it. But if your answer was yes, you might need a little refresher.
“I really believe segmentation helps us to prevent unsubscribes because people aren’t just getting swarmed with emails.” Mary Chapman from Formaggio Kitchen
Emails are not a one-size-fits-all situation. To make sure you’re always hitting the right nerve and achieve high click-through-rates, you need to send targeted emails based on your customer data. And here is what email segmentation could look like:
Segmenting by Demographics
Neglecting Mobile Optimisation
Your newsletter is only designed for desktop view? Then we’ve got bad news for you: Almost 50 per cent of emails are now opened on mobile devices and if your email displays poorly, it will in 70 per cent of cases be deleted in less than three seconds.
To avoid this from happening, make sure your emails are formatted correctly and choose a responsive email template that works on different screen sizes. You may also want to watch out for and avoid:
- Too long subject lines. Mobile devices max out at 25-30 characters.
- No pre-header text to support the subject line.
- Oversized images. It’s often wise to completely block from displaying on mobile devices.
- Having too much text which leaves no breathing room.
- Multiple column layouts that don’t translate to mobile devices.
Sending Campaigns Without Testing
Not only should you test how your email displays across devices before sending it, setting up A/B testing to understand which email copy and design work best, will make every campaign that follows more effective.
Most email marketing tools, Mailchimp included, easily allow you to set up A/B testing as you create a new campaign. You simply create two versions of the same email, using different copy, varying CTA’s or a combination of different variables. The software tracks results of both emails over a set time period, in which you’ll get a lot of insight into what works best for your subscriber list. It’ll also help you pick “a winner email” based on highest open or click rates, or total revenue.
Rockhouse, for example, used A/B testing to figure out if their emails were more successful with or without emojis in the subject line. Here is what they learned:
“At first, I thought it was kind of silly and that no one would care. But when we tested them, the emails with emojis in the subject line got an open rate that was at least 20% higher. It just shows that being able to stand out in an inbox is hugely important.” Amanda Severs from Rockhouse
And these are the most common email mistakes to look out for!
Do you have any questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to get in touch with us. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!