Five of the Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes

Email marketing has the potential to be a total game-changer for your business.

But that’s only if you’re playing by the right set of rules.

There are endless lists of tips, tricks and shortcuts out there to help you fine-tune your marketing strategy and grow your list. As a matter of fact, our email marketing blog is full of them!

Here’s the deal, though: not every tip out there is necessarily “by the book.” There are tons of common mistakes and misconceptions that get pushed on new email marketers that could actually spell bad news for your list.

When you resort to cheap tricks and underhanded tactics to score opens and clicks, you run the risk of doing major damage to your brand.

News flash: your emails can pack a punch without breaking any rules.

Are You Avoiding Five of the Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes?

We at Sendlane believe in educating marketers to be a force for good, following best practices rather than spammy tactics. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide to five of the most infamous email marketing mistakes to avoid if you want to be taken seriously, appeal to your audience and grow your list.

Now, let’s dive right in!

1. Clickbait!

When your readers first glance at your subject lines, it’s a make or break moment.

If your headline is exciting and attractive, readers will click. If not, your readers might end up snoozing. This leads many marketers to believe the more sensational their subject lines, the better. Makes sense, right?

Big mistake.

Many marketers see this sort of clickbait content on Facebook and try to replicate the same formula in their emails:

This stuff might be all-the-rage on social media, but betraying the trust of your readers can be a huge turnoff. That’s why email marketers shouldn’t assume that clickbait is the answer.

You want to be clever, but not spammy.

What should you try instead of clickbait, then? Get your readers hyped up about what you have to say. Sharing your excitement is totally possible without resorting to clickbait.

For starters, take advantage of marketing power words. The following phrases and terms are staples of modern email subject lines because they grab people’s attention:

  • Free
  • Now
  • New
  • Never
  • How to

There’s a reason why you probably see these words pop up all the time in marketing copy. This freebie message subject line (“A free handbook on hiring support!”) is a great example of a good hook:

These phrases light a fire under your readers and tell them to act sooner rather than later.  (“now,” “never,” “new”). They also help label you as a helping hand (“how to” and “free”) and not a spammer.

Another smart subject line strategy is asking questions.

Make your readers nod in agreement. Poke at their sense of curiosity. This question-based subject line (“Do you remember all of your brand’s colors?”) from UXPin encourages clicks by asking a rather obvious question of readers.

Want to score bonus points with your subject lines?

Personalize them.

Including your readers’ actual name in the subject field is one of the best ways to signal that you have something urgent for them. Through features such as Sendlane’s personalization tags, you can insert each and every name on your list directly into your subject lines automatically.

The takeaway here? Subject lines should not be treated as tricks.

Power words, questions and personalization encourage a stronger connection with your readers.

2. Cliche Copy

Email is unique because of its staying power. Unlike many marketing trends that come and go, email has been around for decades.

But as time has gone on, so have the tropes that the general public are absolutely tired of.

Piggybacking on the last tip, you need to be particularly careful of avoiding some copy cliches that slap a “spam” label on your emails.

How do you avoid that dreadful label, though?

Make Your Message About Them (Not “Me”)

Perhaps one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, strive to emphasize the power of “you.”

How? That’s easy. Talk about your audience rather than talking about yourself.

Look, your readers’ time is valuable. They need to know what’s in it for them ASAP. Drop the self-promotional tone and focus on you instead of I.

When you make your messages about “me, me, me,” you run the risk of making your readers tune out.

Don’t Pretend That You’ve Talked Before

“Um, have we met before?”

Definitely not the right foot get off on with your list.

Pretending to have a previous conversation with someone via email might seem like an effective marketing trick. In reality, it’s downright spammy.

Oh, and tacking “Re:” at the beginning of your subject line to reel in readers could very well get you in trouble with email servers who are familiar with this old tactic.

Personalization > “Private”

Messages labeled as being “for your eyes only” has been done to death by marketers.

Besides, your readers are well aware that they’re on a list and are receiving the same messages as others. Rather than present your messages as private, put your personality on display and speak to the unique desires of your audience instead.

And if you feel like your campaigns lack personality, consider showing off your sense of humor. This brilliant discount email from Social Print Studio is the exact opposite of a generic, boring sales message:

Remember: you have so much freedom with what you can do within your emails. A bit of experimenting and creativity can go a long way toward making your emails as stand out.

3. Image Overload

As noted by our list of 50 eye-opening email stats, email marketing today is all about mobile.

With marketers trying so hard to reach mobile users, we’re seeing more and more image-based messages dominate the email space.

The problem? Bogging down your messages with too many images could potentially make them slow-loading. Even worse, they could overwhelm your readers.

Luckily, making your email’s images count through smart design doesn’t mean that you have to be a style guru.

There are plenty of examples of effective emails that take a simple approach to color and copy. Check out this one from Everlane using bold text and simple color scheme to get its point across:

 

Looking to show off more images in your emails? No problem.

Find ways to make your emails as scroll-friendly as possible. This webinar email from Sprout Social uses its background colors to break the email into sections. At the same time, the message uses simple icons and CTA buttons to guide the reader throughout the message.

Another practical strategy for making your emails more attractive without adding images is using a color scheme that pops. Check out how Laughlin Constable uses their bright brand colors to encourage readers to download their latest report:

Hard to miss, huh?

You don’t need to fill your emails with pictures to make them more pleasing to the eye. With the help of customizable email templates, you can build out eye-popping messages in a snap without having to worry image overload.

4. Pushing Your Prospects Too Hard

Pop quiz: are you sending emails too often? Too infrequently? No idea?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Finding the sweet spot in terms of email frequency is most definitely a challenge.

In many cases, erring on the side of “quality over quantity” is the right decision for most brands. Hitting up your prospects too often could potentially annoy them, especially if you’re looking to score sales.

And on a similar note, solely sending sales messages could cause your readers to put their guard up.

You want to be a helping hand, not a door-to-door salesperson. Sending less often while mixing up your messages can do the trick.

Sendlane’s sends its own newsletter on a weekly basis to keep our lovely list updated with new content. We might occasionally send out a second weekly email about a fresh feature or upgrade, but we also try to respect our readers’ time.

Again, not every email necessarily needs to be a sales pitch. This friendly retention message from Unroll encourages readers to check out their service without being spammy about it at all. These sort of “check-ins” show that you’re on the lookout to help out your readers versus trying to sell to them all the time:

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can never send sales emails. The end-goal for most email marketers is to see a positive ROI, after all.

Even if you are pushing a sale, finding the right sort of tone could be the difference between someone going through the checkout process or bouncing. This cart abandonment email from Google asks nicely for a sale instead of begging for it.

When in doubt, make a conscious effort not to sound clingy or desperate throughout your marketing messages. Building that ever-so-important trust with your audience takes time, so don’t try to rush it.

5. Misdirecting Your Readers

Considering that clicks are so valuable to email marketers, why would you waste yours by misleading your readers?

Many marketers do this by accident, but some actually do it on purpose.

Okay, so this tip is a two-way street. For starters, you don’t want to accidentally send your readers to the wrong page unrelated to what they clicked on.

Pulling a bait-and-switch on your list is bad news for your brand and will only lead people to unsubscribe from your list. When crafting your emails, double-check that your links are all directing to the right place and there are no broken ones, either.

Now, onto the second piece of misdirection.

The most infamous case of misleading your readers is giving them too much to do within any given email. Ideally, you can zero in on a single call-to-action button rather than send your readers clicking a million different buttons that lead to a million different pages.

Your CTAs should be bold and stand out at a glance. In other words, they should be nearly impossible to miss. This newsletter boasts a yellow CTA that clearly contrasts with the dark blue background.

Now, this particular message does have multiple links where readers can click. They all lead to similar pieces of content, though. A combination of text-links and buttons is a good idea in the case that your readers have images turned off.

It’s totally fair game to have more than one spot for readers to click, but ideally they lead to the same destination. Having one CTA removes any sense of doubt or debate from your readers’ minds. They either click or they don’t. It’s that simple.

Also, honing in on a single CTA makes it easier to assess the performance of your emails. When you send an email specifically for the purpose of sales or content promotion, for example, you can tell how well that message performed versus tracking links to seven or eight different pages.

In short, figuring out where to go shouldn’t be a guessing game for your list.

Are Your Emails Playing by the Rules?

And that concludes our list!

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important as following the best practices of email marketing. Staying away from these mistakes could very well be your key to more opens and consistent clicks throughout your campaigns.

Trust us: we know there’s tons of advice out there and it’s a lot to handle. Keeping your emails on the up and up ultimately means treating your list with respect, displaying your value and coming across as a friendly face.

With the help of Sendlane’s email automation solution, you can send messages that warm up your list time and time again. From personalization to customization, give our free trial a spin today to see what we can do to help your list grow!

 

Jerrik Neri

Jerrik Neri

Jerrik is a Sendlane warrior by day and an avid and aspiring Web Developer ninja by night. His passion for programming and technology which has cultivated since he was young, has landed him in this company - helping people and fixing code.
When he’s not helping out and fighting for Sendlane’s cause or staring hard at long lines of code, you can find him at the gym trying to lift heavy things, or at home, trying to be the next E-sports gaming professional.
Jerrik Neri

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