The 10 Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Mar 31, 2021

Robert Brandl

email marketing mistakes

It takes no time at all to hit send in your newsletter tool. But what happens when an error has slipped in? Or even worse – what if the whole concept behind the newsletter is all wrong?

Don’t worry, we are here to help you with the low-down on seven of the biggest email marketing mistakes and what you can do to avoid them…

The Email Marketing Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Avoiding the following mistakes will give you better open rates and will avoid you losing subscribers because they’ve become fed up with your emails and have unsubscribed.

Boasting an ROI of 4400%, email marketing can be very profitable, which is why you really want to get it right from the very start.

So without further delay, here are our top mistakes to avoid:

1. Not seeing things from the point of view of the recipient

There is nothing worse than writing a newsletter with the sole aim of overwhelming the recipients with marketing messages. This is the biggest sin of all and, trust us, it won’t get you very far.

Let’s look at a cell phone provider as an example:

When someone new subscribes to the newsletter, they will only need information on tariffs and new cell phones for a very short amount of time. In fact, this type of communication will only be of interest to them until they have signed a new contract.

And then they probably won’t be needing that information again for at least another year. With that in mind, it makes no sense to constantly bombard them with the latest offers on cell phones. The more sensible option would be to contact them with helpful messages about the services available with a view to providing added value.

Other email marketing mistakes in this vein include:

  • Sending newsletters that are too long and rambling: Thankfully, current email clients, such as Gmail, will cut the message down automatically in this case.
  • Sending newsletters too frequently: Your customers don’t care that you agreed to send the newsletter out once a month at the marketing meeting. If you don’t have anything interesting to say, please don’t just hassle your customers for the sake of it.
  • Sending several emails a day: This will often come about if you have automated emails set up but are still sending newsletters out manually on top of that.
  • Talking about yourself too much: It's okay to send company updates now and again, but we wouldn't recommend this as your only newsletter content. What readers are looking for is helpful material that adds value, for example, blog posts, guides or ebooks.

Email Marketing Services for Affiliate Marketers

2. Sending newsletters to recipients without their consent

This is a risky move as far as your company’s reputation is concerned – who doesn’t hate spammers after all? But it can also be rather costly if you get a cease and desist letter. And even though the CAN-SPAM Act may not be all that tough on spammers, you should stop and think about your own reaction when you receive a newsletter from a company you’ve never heard of.

We’re guessing that you’re not exactly jumping for joy when that happens? We thought as much… We recommend focusing all your attention on permission marketing. This means not buying email lists, and only emailing contacts that have given you permission to do so.

We’d recommend you check out the current law in your country regarding email marketing.

3. Sending newsletters containing errors

Sending out incorrect pricing information is obviously far from ideal. Other unpopular errors include:

  • Personalized elements that have not been updated (e.g., “Dear John Doe”)
  • Broken/incorrect links
  • Forms that can be filled in but don’t send
  • Typos

Make sure you always get someone else to check your newsletter before you send it. If that isn’t possible, it is a good idea to sleep on it and read over it again yourself in the morning with fresh eyes. We’d also recommend that you always send a test email to yourself before going ahead and sending it to your subscriber list.

Here’s an example of a newsletter that includes pretty much every error you can think of: image3

4. Sending emails with errors in the subject line

The subject line will often determine whether the recipient will open the email in the first place. These are some mistakes you should avoid:

    • Including the key message too late
    • Writing a subject line that is too long
    • Giving the text too much of a promotional focus – it’s almost always better to keep it factual and to the point
    • Including special characters that aren’t displayed properly (watch out for €, ™, ©, and so on)
    • The best way to work out the optimum length is to run tests on various email clients (don’t forget that a lot of people will read email newsletters on their smartphone)
    • Going crazy with emojis
    • Not including a subject line at all
    • Using all caps and lots of !!!???? – No one likes to be shouted at!

The best way to work out the optimum length is to run tests on various email clients (and don’t forget that a lot of people will read email newsletters on their smartphone).

You can also test our handy Subject Line Tester.

5. Sending HTML newsletters that are not being displayed properly

Unfortunately, one of the main issues faced within email marketing is still newsletters that are completely messed up when displayed. Email clients (like Outlook) that ignore standards are so popular that you sadly cannot just forget about them. But there is a solution to this problem in the form of decent newsletter tools that include the relevant testing mechanisms, and tons of great HTML templates.

Nowadays, it is also extremely important that newsletters look good on mobile devices too. Think “responsive web design”. You can use a template for this that is designed for smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers alike (we even have a list of over 700 free templates that do the job).

Embedded videos are hardly ever a sensible choice. You’d be better off including a screenshot or animated GIF with a link to the website where the video can be found.

6. Sending newsletters containing too many images

Occasionally, a newsletter will land in our inbox that is literally just made up of images. And if people don’t download those images, they won’t ever get the message at the heart of the email.

That’s why it’s crucial that you make sure you have a good balance of text and images. If not, your email might even just end up in the junk folder because spam filters won’t be able to cope with it.

newsletter images

7. Sending newsletters at the wrong time of the day or week

There has been a lot of discussion in the past about the best time to send out marketing emails. In our experience:

  • Newsletters should never be sent out in the middle of the night. This is because they will end up having to compete with all the other new emails that have come in by the next morning. One top tip is to find a newsletter tool that comes with smart sending functions that work in line with the recipient’s specific time zone.
  • If you’re working in the B2B sector, it’s not necessarily a good idea to send your newsletters out on Fridays. After all, emails received on a Friday that aren’t opened on the same day already fall under “last week’s emails” when Monday comes around.

8. Not segmenting your contacts

Segmentation is necessary in order to not only organize your contacts, but to ensure that they receive targeted content that’s relevant to them. You can use demographics such as geolocation and age to segment your lists, or go deeper by segmenting according to purchasing habits.

For example, say you run an ecommerce, and you want to let customers know about some promotions you’re running. Segmenting customers by the type of product they usually buy means you can send them the discounts that are relevant to them, resulting in a higher click-through rate and more conversions.

9. Failing to include clear calls to action

A call-to-action is a piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, e.g. buy now or click here. If your newsletters don’t include one then you’re missing a trick.

Every newsletter should include one clear call-to-action. Make it easy for the reader and use a button. What you want to avoid is including tons of links, which will only overwhelm your recipients.

10. Not monitoring your analytics

A big email marketing mistake made by many is failing to analyze the analytics of their campaigns.

If you’re getting poor open rates and plenty of unsubscribes, think about why that is and work to rectify it. If you’re seeing high open rates but poor click-through rates, maybe you need to work on making your calls-to-action clearer.

Email Marketing Mistakes: Conclusion

The overall concept of email marketing is suffering as a result of so many irrelevant newsletters being sent out every day. And where email marketing is struggling in the face of its own reputation, it’s not down to spammers, given that spam filters are really rather good these days.

In actual fact, it is all those pointless promotional emails that businesses are constantly sending out to their customers that are to blame – despite the fact that the companies are almost always within their rights to do just that.

Please bear the first point in mind as a matter of priority and do your bit to help give the humble newsletter a better name for itself as a marketing medium once again!

Note: All the above points will heavily impact your email deliverability. Make sure to check out our complete guide to email deliverability best practices and email authentication for detailed information on how to improve yours today.



31 Mar 2021 – General update