The top 5 email marketing mistakes to avoid

It may sound cliche, but everyone makes mistakes—and learning from mistakes is what can make you truly successful.

But if you can also learn from others' mistakes rather than your own? Even better.

Email marketing success is a little bit of art and science rolled into one. That said, there are some common mistakes that email marketers make that can be avoided with just a little bit of preparation.

In this post, we will outline some of the most common email marketing mistakes to help you design better campaigns and avoid the challenges that other marketers have already experienced and overcome.

5 email marketing mistakes to avoid

When you create your next email marketing campaign, keep these mistakes in the back of your mind and plan ahead to avoid falling into these common mistakes.

1. Not considering mobile when designing campaigns

Today, over half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. Failing to optimize email for mobile devices will create a poor experience for subscribers.

An unoptimized email may cause them to be unable to see the whole subject line, which could decrease open rates. Or, worse, the images in the email could load slowly, render incorrectly, or just create a confusing UX for readers—making them more likely to send the email straight to the trash folder.

No matter what kind of campaign you're sending, keep in mind that at least half of the people reading this email will be reading it on a mobile device. Failing to optimize for mobile can immediately alienate half of your prospective customer base which, in turn, immediately reduces your the success of your campaign.

2. Failing to use personalization

One of the main reasons using email is a great marketing tool is because you already have your target audience's information and data. It is now up to you, as a marketer, to use that data effectively.

Far too many email marketers simply send out the same generic email blast to all of their users when they could be personalizing them. Personalizing emails is a great way to grab the attention of subscribers, build brand relationships, and differentiate your business from the competition.

Look for opportunities to send out personalized emails that will make customers feel like they are more than just another number on your subscriber list.

Additionally, try segmenting your email list into specific demographics that you can then target with campaigns that will appeal most to that group of subscribers. Not all personalized emails have to be individually customized, but some level of personalization should be done to help improve open rates, click rates, and sales.


3. Not having a plan

Say you're trying to find a destination in a new city: do you use your GPS to help you get there or do you just wing it and hope you will find the place on your own?

Chances are, you probably plan ahead—and you should do the same with your email marketing strategy. Creating a campaign with no prior plan is a huge mistake that can be a major waste of time and money.

One of the major problems that arises from not having a plan is that you begin sending campaign emails whenever the time feels right. This can lead to poor scheduling, sending out too many emails in a short period of time or not sending out enough. (For the record, most people would like to hear from businesses they subscribe to at least twice a month.)

If you don't plan, you can't create effective emails for each segment on your email list. As a result, you will end up sending poorly personalized emails to some that will simply not resonate with them. This can lead to an increase in unsubscribe rates and a huge drop in engagement. 

Planning ahead gives you time to write effective copy, choose the right images, ensure your campaign is optimized for mobile, and plan your campaign for each unique segment in your email marketing list.

4. Sending emails that don’t look professional

As soon as someone opens the email you sent them, what do they think? That's one of the most important impressions your business can make.

A poorly designed email can ruin your message before anyone has even had a chance to read it. Spelling errors, poor quality images, and an ugly layout can be enough of a reason for subscribers to send your message straight to the trash. People will immediately assume that the email has no value—regardless of what the content may actually say.

This mistake often goes hand in hand with failing to have a plan. If you don't have an established strategy, your subscribers will be able to tell—and the results will speak for themselves.

There are so many tools available to help you create amazing email campaigns that there is simply no excuse to send out unprofessional emails to your subscriber list. Taking the effort to make something that looks nice makes unprofessional email campaigns one of the easiest email marketing mistakes to avoid.

5. Failing to track important metrics

Even after you send out an email marketing campaign, your job as an email marketer isn't done yet! There are plenty of ways to track the success of your campaign in order to discover what works and what doesn’t and then use that information to optimize your next send.

Some of these metrics include the open rate, the click rate, and the unsubscribe rate. All of these metrics should be measured with each campaign and tracked over time to watch for trends or issues that may be developing.

Open rate

The open rate tells you a lot about how people are reading your subject lines.

An average open rate is anywhere between 15% and 25% (depending on your industry). But remember that the best place to look for benchmarks is in your own analytics dashboard—how have your emails performed in the past? What can you do to improve them?

If your open rate is falling short of this average, then it may suggest that your subject lines are too long, too irrelevant, or not specific enough. In other words, people are not excited enough when they read your email subject to actually take the next step and open the email.

Click rate

After the open rate, you should take a look at the click rate.

This measures the number of people who read the email and chose to actually click through to your website. If you have high open rates but low click rates then this may suggest there is actually an issue within the body of the email. The copy may not be convincing, the design may fall short, the offer may not be strong enough, or it may not be clear about how people can take advantage of the offer.

Unsubscribe and churn rates

The unsubscribe rate is pretty self-explanatory. Attrition, or churn, is the reality for all email lists. On average, about 25% of your contacts will churn, or leave your list, each year.

If your unsubscribe rate starts to creeps up, take the time to figure out what could be causing this type of behavior. Are specific types of emails causing increased unsubscribe rates or are your subscribers simply becoming fatigued with your content?


Wrap up

There’s nothing like avoiding a mistake before you even make it in the first place, right? Now that you know some of the top email marketing mistakes to avoid, you can build better, more effective campaigns that will deliver on your goals.

Ready to take your email marketing to the next level? Emma has all of the tools you need to avoid the mistakes listed above and deliver better, more professional emails to your subscribers. You can segment your email list for better personalization, design top quality email campaigns, and track important metrics. Request a live demo of an email account here.

About the Author

Lane Harbin is a senior content marketing manager at Emma. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.

More Content by Lane Harbin

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma's robust easy-to-use product today.