8 Expensive Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid them

Email Marketing MistakesEveryone makes mistakes while running and promoting their business. Some of these mistakes are trivial, others are brand damaging and expensive. Marketing and business mistakes, big and small, have one thing in common—most of them are avoidable.

In online marketing alone, there’s an endless possibility of email marketing mistakes an uninitiated business owner can commit. So in this post, I’ll only list the biggest mistakes that have the power to ruin your chances of selling your products and building your authority through email.

Money-Draining Email Marketing Mistakes

1. Not A/B Testing

What is your email marketing strategy based on?


Tips from a fellow business owner?

Maybe you routinely send discounts because you think it works, based on the number of discount coupons you’ve received and used. Perhaps you chose an email layout based on what your friends thought looked good.

What works for other businesses, may not work for yours. What looks good for your friends may not bring you more subscribers or sales.

A/B testing, also called as split testing, is the process of testing your marketing assumptions and then making a decision based on the available data. For instance, your friends chose a blue themed newsletter layout because they taught the colors made you look trustworthy. You can check if that assumption is correct by A/B testing two layouts.

Send one email with the same message using the suggested layout and a different one for control, so that half of your email list gets the blue-themed layout while the rest get a different one. Whichever layout gets a higher open rate wins.

You can test every aspect of your email marketing campaigns, such as:

  • Email subject line
  • Images
  • Call to action buttons
  • Pricing
  • Anchor text
  • Email frequency

2. Not Testing on Different Platforms

Email looks differently on Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Even email read on Gmail’s website looks a tad different if read on their app. Layout can vary depending on a user’s browser too.

Different email platforms show HTML coding differently, that’s why you need to check how your email looks on different devices and browsers before blasting it to everyone.

This is one of the most avoidable email marketing mistakes, yet I keep receiving emails with funny formatting and bad links.

Most email marketing tools, such as Hubspot, have a preview feature that allows users to check how their email will behave on different screens and devices. Don’t take this feature for granted. You can also use free email testing tools like Litmus.

3. Not Using a Mobile-Friendly or Responsive Design

Do you know how many people check emails on their phones every day?

According to Litmus’ State of Email report, 54% of emails are opened on mobile while only 16% are opened on desktop.

If that usage statistic isn’t enough for you, here are the top complaints of people with mobile email, according to LiveClicker and The Relevancy Group:

  • Too small to read: 32%
  • Landing page and website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing: 26%
  • Email not formatted for mobile phones: 21%

More and more people are relying on their smartphones to read their email. It’s time your email format gets mobile-friendly. If your readers get impatient pinching and squinting just to read your email, they’ll stop reading your messages.

4. Too Much Self-Promotion

Email marketing is an effective sales tool, but you can only get to that point if you take the time to build a relationship with your readers first.

Yes, your main goal is to sell your products and services. But you have to put your readers first. Think about their problems, goals, hesitations, and see what you can do to help them.

Sure, some of your products might be helpful in a given situation but you don’t have to mention it in all of your emails. In fact, some of your emails should have no mention of your products at all.

5. Sending Everything to Everyone

The average person receives 500 marketing emails a month, but only opens less than 1 in 15 emails received. How can your email rise up above that much noise?

The only effective way to do that is to personalize and segment your emails based on data. Send your subscribers only the emails they’re interested in based on their reading behavior, age, job, purchase history, location, reading habits, and other data.

6. Sending Image-only Emails

Only 33% of readers turned on the ‘display image’ option on their inbox. What does that mean for you?

Majority of your readers won’t see the images you send them. All they’ll see is a big blank box, or the alt-text description of the image, like the example below.

Image Not Displayed

If images are crucial to your email, combine it with some text to describe what’s in the picture. Don’t rely on the images to convey your message. You can also include a link to the web version of the email, so subscribers can click it to see the images and original formatting you intended.

Email marketing platforms allow users to create an HTML and text-only version of their email, so use both options to make sure all of your readers will receive something readable.

7. No Call to Action

All your efforts writing a compelling email will be wasted if you forget to include a call to action (CTA). The bottom line of any email is to get your subscribers to take action, whether that’s to read your blog post or to check out your new product.

If your readers made it to the end of your email, that means they’re interested in what you have to say. Not including a call to action wastes the attention they gave you.

Below is an example email from Zapier with several CTAs.




8. Not Cleaning Your Email List Regularly

Bad email list hygiene can cost you a lot of money, as explained in this post about deleting subscribers. A poorly maintained email list leads to more unopened emails and bad conversions.

Below are some tips to keep your email list healthy:

  • Remove purchased email leads
  • Remove emails not tied to a specific contact, such as info@domain, admin@domain, or hello@domain.
  • Run a re-engagement campaign to determine if some of your recently cold-leads are still worth contacting.

Do Better in Email Marketing

Are you guilty of any of these email marketing blunders? There’s still time to correct course and save the day.

Implementing all of this might be overwhelming, so just take it one step at a time. Eventually, you’ll have a healthy email list and better engagement rate.

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