11 common email marketing mistakes to avoid
Last updated: October 17, 2023
Email marketing is one of the highest-impact, lowest-cost ways to connect with your audience. And the penalty for falling short has never been higher. So in this post, we’re presenting some of the most email marketing mistakes we see – and how to resolve each one.
We’re not talking about forgetting to proof your email or test before sending – we’ve all been there, and we all know not to do it. Instead, we’re talking about some of the strategic missteps that could stop your email marketing strategy in its tracks.
Read on to discover the email marketing mistakes standing in the way of your success – and how to correct each one:
Get ahead with innovative marketing automation! Unleash conversions & engage audiences:
11 common email marketing mistakes to avoid
1. You haven’t warmed up your domain
Imagine: You’ve just created a new newsletter and you want to send it to your previously dormant 5,000-person list. In a perfect world, you could just hit send without any impact to your sender score or deliverability.
But the inbox service providers won’t trust you right away. To prevent spam, many of them limit the amount of email accepted from a particular sender during a specific period. Once you exceed that threshold, the ISP will reject your email.
Do this enough times and ISPs will put a block on your domain.
Prevent this by increasing your sending volume gradually — spread out your emails over days or weeks rather than sending them all at once. This way, you can build your sending reputation slowly rather than hurting your deliverability in one message.
But what is “gradual” enough? Unfortunately, there’s no set standard, as each’s deliverability depends on a complex interaction of factors. But Google does list some factors that affect how quickly you can increase your sending volume, including:
- Amount of email sent: The more email that you send, the more slowly you should increase sending volume.
- Frequency of sending email: You can increase the sending volume more quickly when you send daily instead of weekly.
- Recipient feedback about your messages: Make sure you send only to people who subscribe to your emails, and give recipients an option to unsubscribe.
PS: Just getting started? Avoid deliverability issues by reviewing Google’s complete bulk sending guidelines.
2. You’re ignoring your sending reputation
Are your deliverability numbers below 98%? Are your open, click and click-through rates slipping? Chances are that inbox service providers are sending your emails to spam.
Usually this stems from spammy or suboptimal sending practices: If your subscribers don’t engage with your emails, or click out immediately upon opening, inbox service providers will see your emails as spam, then divert your emails to spam. This can kickstart a vicious cycle of bad engagement, deliverability issues, poor inbox placement and even worse deliverability issues — and this can prevent even your loyal subscribers from seeing your emails.
More than any campaign or strategy, protecting your deliverability is top priority. Preserve your sending reputation and prevent deliverability issues with these best practices:
- Never buy lists!
- Ensure that you’re only messaging subscribers that have opted in.
- Use a customer data platform like Omeda to ensure that someone’s opt-out is recorded across every channel, including email
- Clean your lists regularly to identify and remove invalid emails from your list.
- If you’re running a campaign, use a fatigue filter to identify and temporarily stop sending emails to recipients who haven’t opened in a while.
- Run re-engagement campaigns at least once per quarter. Use this to identify and re-engage lapsed subscribers, then remove anyone who didn’t open the email from your list. Omeda’s email and marketing automation platform makes it easy to create targeted, personalized multi-channel campaigns – and customize your timing based on the user’s response.
Already experiencing deliverability issues? Turn things around with these tips:
- Suppress unengaged subscribers: Sending less emails to lapsed subscribers will improve your engagement numbers and ultimately your deliverability. For instance, if you’re sending a customer 4 newsletters and they only engage with 1, continue to send 1 newsletter, and stop sending the other 3.
- Clean your list and run re-engagement campaigns, then immediately remove inactive subscribers from your list.
- Consult the experts. Omeda’s deliverability team monitors your deliverability numbers and intercedes with ISPs on your behalf when issues arise.
3. You’re not segmenting your audience — or your segments are too broad
People most often unsubscribe from emails because they don’t find the content relevant.
Some people will naturally fall out of “like” with your brand — and that’s OK. But others might unsubscribe because they only like a fraction of what you’re sending them. By segmenting your audience, you can hold onto these subscribers and ensure they’re getting the resources they find useful — and nothing else.
Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t a lack of segmentation, but insufficient segmentation. Sure, splitting your audience into one “current customer” segment and another “prospect” segment keeps things simple. But such broad segmentation keeps you from giving everyone in your audience the personalized content they expect. And you’ll still risk losing subscribers over time.
For best results, segment your audience based on the following characteristics.
- Behaviors, like attending a specific event, or a breakout session within an event
- Previous purchase history (use this to cross-promote and upsell between brands)
- Previous interactions with your website, like viewing content or downloading an eBook related to a specific topic
- Publications they’re subscribed to
- Most recent engagement date
- Job title or industry
- A combination of the above! (Use Omeda’s Audience Search filter to create multi-dimensional segments and really hone in on individual groups of your audience.)
The more you can target content and recommendations based on someone’s interests and past actions, the more successful your campaigns will be.
4. Your data is siloed
Segmentation allows you to personalize your marketing and improve your overall outreach. But your ability to segment hinges on your data quality. The more accurate your customer data, the more accurate — and predictive — your marketing segments will be.
So if your customer data is stored in multiple marketing channels, you’re not able to target your emails as effectively.
The solution: Consider using a customer data platform (CDP) like Omeda to eliminate data silos and strengthen your personalization efforts.
CDPs take in customer data from every marketing touchpoint and assemble it into one unified profile according to automated workflows – no manual transfers required. This gives you one profile for each customer that encompasses every channel.
So your email marketing team always has access to the most current, complete data on each customer. With that, they can build the most accurate, complete email segments and personalize their outreach more effectively than before.
5. You’re giving your readers cognitive overload
We get it, you gotta promote you. But cluttering your email with a link to your blog, a demo request link, and links to a few other articles will distract your readers from what really matters — taking the intended action.
Streamline your emails (without sacrificing your marketing objectives) here:
- Use your email service provider’s heat map report to see what spot your readers click most within your email, then include your most important CTA there. Most likely, this will be above the fold (above the point at which readers need to scroll down).
- Review your email reports to see which links within your emails receive the most clicks.
- Rather than sending one email chock full of everything you’ve done for the past month, consider segmenting your audience and sending a more streamlined email to each one. This way, everyone gets a manageable resource that’s more geared to their specific interests and you can maximize engagement across your whole list.
6. You’ve got too many (or not enough) people involved in the process
Most email marketers know what they need to do. But executing it is another matter entirely. Short staffing might leave you scrambling to create a single weekly newsletter, let alone an email marketing strategy that thoughtfully incorporates personalization, segmentation and automation.
But having too many voices at the table creates groupthink that can dilute more risky or creative ideas.
Where’s the sweet spot? If possible, have one person review every piece of the process, then have specialists review their particular piece of the puzzle. This includes design, copywriting, audience targeting and project management.
7. Your subject lines aren’t hitting the spot
With professionals receiving tens if not hundreds of emails per day, only those with the strongest subject lines will stand out enough to get opened. Craft subject lines that earn opens with these tips:
- Keep it short: According to our research, emails with subject lines below 20 characters outperformed their longer counterparts. Need to add more detail? Use the preview text.
- Personalize whenever possible: Marketing Dive reports that personalized subject lines have a 50% higher open rate compared to controls. (However, only implement this if subscribers have opted into getting emails from you and provided their first name in the form. Otherwise, it’s intrusion, not personalization.)
- A/B test your subject lines: The research presented above reflects the average effect for the average company in each of the studies. However, statistics don’t always reflect what’s going on within an individual customer base. So always A/B test your subject lines to see what hits with your particular audience.
8. You’re not cleaning your lists often enough
Some list churn comes from changing contact information: Someone changes jobs and professional email addresses without updating their customer profile with you. Emailing one inactive account is fine, but all those inactive accounts add up over time.
Keeping them on your email list will drag down your engagement numbers and ultimately threaten your deliverability. Combat this by cleaning your email list as regularly as possible (but at once per quarter). To do this, use an email verification service like AtData (formerly known as FreshAddress) to identify and remove any inactive accounts from your list.
9. You’re sending emails at the wrong time
Your emails could have attention-grabbing copy and a compelling CTA. But if they come when your audience is stuck in meetings, they won’t even see it – let alone take the intended action.
If your numbers are lagging, it’s worth experimenting with your send dates and times. Review your send history and email reports to see what combinations generate the best results.
Couple that with your own audience research: What job titles do your target audience hold? What industry are they in? What locations and time zones are they in? Use that information to make educated guesses about when they can read your emails (for example, you might send at 12pm so subscribers will see it during their lunch break).
Also consider the impact of deployment type: Newsletters sent on Mondays get the most click-throughs, probably because people want to get caught up on news for the week, whereas marketing emails are more successful when sent on Thursday or Friday.
But no two audiences are the same, so test this out for yourself. Want more guidance? Check out our framework for finding the best send time for your audience.
10. Your emails don’t format properly on some devices.
From motion graphics to videos, we’ve seen a lot more multimedia content in emails. Engaging as they can be, they can also render incompletely on some devices. So we recommend testing your emails across multiple device types and sizes to ensure you’re compatible with most of your readers’ devices (i.e., find your one friend that’s still on Android and have them run some tests). Also remember to test your emails on light and dark mode, as more and more users are adopting the latter.
Note: On Omeda, you can use our Opens by Device report to see which devices your recipients use most frequently.
11. You’re not monitoring the right metrics
If you’re only tracking opens, clicks and click-throughs, you’re missing valuable chances to connect with your audience.
Grounding your email strategy in data is the key to securing clicks and conversions. And Omeda is here to help: Our email and marketing automation platform goes beyond vanity metrics to help you discover what’s really driving email performance. Besides opens, clicks and click-through rates, we track:
- Opens by device
- Opens by email client (Gmail, Outlook, etc.)
- Olytics clicks (links to pages that are being tracked by our website analytics solution). Use this to identify how effectively your emails refer traffic to your site.
- Heat maps to help you identify where to place your most important CTAs
- Detailed stats on opt-ins and opt-outs on your preference page, so you can track customer preferences and evaluate your copy performance
- Link performance, as well as detailed data on who clicks each link, to better evaluate your conversion strategy
- Performance stats for individual links and link categories (for instance, you might create separate categories for advertiser and internal links)
- Click bot activity (we automatically remove click bots from reports and provide a separate report listing the origin of each one)
- Hard and soft bounces, as well as reasons for each one
…and much more! See a full list of our email reports here.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up to get our latest articles sent directly to your inbox.