The Ultimate List Of Email Marketing Mistakes (and what to do about it)

Marketers are the new sales reps. Especially, the email marketers.

Before the internet, if you were considering purchasing something and researching your options, you had to call a salesperson to get all the info. That means a sales person had the power to influence the buyers from the very beginning of the cycle.

With Google, most people don’t have a need to contact a sales rep anymore until they are 70-80% into the buying cycle. Instead, it’s you, the email marketer who has to take over.

You have to take over the task of building trust and educating. That means now you are in charge of influencing the buyer in the early stages of the sales cycle.

With that in mind, let’s look at 31 scary email marketing mistakes to avoid (experts make these too):

      1. Lack of Targeting and Deep Segmentation

        (Source: Hubspot)
        Segmentation is not just reserved for when you are asking people to buy or to push them through the funnel.  You can start segmenting right from your welcome email. “This means sending targeted emails with specific goals that actually match each customers’ interests,” says Chris Hexton.

      2. Not Running Multichannel Campaigns

        Lifecycle marketing campaigns should involve a little more than just emails. Reaching them on different channels including direct mail can help shorten the sales cycle and improve buyers experience with the brand. For example, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Adding personal touches like writing handwritten notes or even just picking up the phone to follow up can show customers that you care.

      3. Not Separating Transaction Emails From Email Marketing

        (source: Mailchimp)
        Emails like receipts and shipping confirmation are considered transactional emails. People expect these emails from you. However, this does not give you the permission to send other emails unless they have explicitly given you the permission. Other types of emails include behavioral and email newsletters. Email newsletters can be blog posts and similar content. While behavioral emails give readers relevant information or offers based on where they are in the buying cycle.

      4. Assuming People Remember Who You Are

        (source: Mailchimp)
        People don’t always remember who you are, especially if they signed up soon after they first discovered you. Remind them who you are frequently, without annoying them.

      5. Writing Like a Used Car Salesman

        (source: Mailchimp)
        You don’t talk like a used car salesman when you are with a person face-to-face so why write like that. If you are going to pitch something, first record your pitch as if you were talking to a person and then write it down. I am sure many people have talked about this, but I first heard this tip from Neville Medhora.

      6. Poor Subject Line Copy

        (source: unbounce)
        To make sure your CTRs and response rates are high, first and foremost, you need people to open your email. There are many ways of doing this, but break up your message in the form of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) works every time. And your subject line is the “Attention” part of your message.  Protip for attention grabbers: Subject lines and attention grabbers don’t have to be complicated. Just make a point no one else is making.

      7. Overselling in the Subject Line

        (sourceForbes/Constant Contact)
        Two reasons not to do it: One is people are not going to believe what you are saying — aka, won’t open your email. If they do buy into it, they will feel tricked and betrayed. Say bye-bye to all your future opens and click-throughs from this person. On the other hand, don’t undersell either.

      8. Leaving the Subject Line For Last.

        (source: Marketingprofs)
        Writing the subject line down first means you have to decide what the goal of the email is going to be. Create your CTA along with the subject line. That means, all you now need to do is figure out how to keep them interested and create desire while moving from point A (subject line) to point B (CTA). Whereas the other way round will change the goal of your email, as many times as your mind wavers and wanders. Plan ahead.

      9. Slowing Down Your Readers

        (source: Marketingprofs)
        Things like long texts, lots of call-to-actions and lots of distracting images will slow your readers down. Worse yet, you will lose them quicker than the time it took them to open your email. Here are a few tips:

        1. Break it up with headings. Make it easy to skim.
        2. Keep your CTA limited to just one. You can repeat the same call to action. If anything, dedicate one-third of your copy to get people to take Action. Yup! 1/3.
        3. Make sure your images are actually making people imagine a scenario (preferably what it feels like to solve their problem with your solution), or it’s making them laugh.
      10. Ignoring Campaign Reports

        (source: Mailchimp)
        Don’t check your campaign reports once a week or once a month. As soon as you send out a campaign, check the results immediately. Figure out why you have the results you have (good or bad). Then test your hypothesis in your next email. If your reports are good, you want to figure out how to repeat the success. And if your report is bad, well you know you are probably spooked by now.

      11. Not Take Action

        While you are checking your reports, don’t forget to make changes to the campaigns or emails that are set to go out next. Look at your reports, make a list of new findings and hypotheses. Then go ahead and implement or test them in your next set of emails.

      12. Lack of Automation

        (source: unbounce)
        Avoid planning your lifecycle marketing on the go. Instead list out all the steps people will have to take for you to make a sale. For example, if you funnel looks like this: sign up -> fill out their profile -> invite friends -> surf your site -> do something -> add it to the cart -> enter credit card -> hit purchase. Each step needs an email, whether it’s transaction, behavioral, newsletter or a combination.

      13. Poor Ddeliverability and Engagement

        (source: unbounce)
        Email deliverability depends a lot on how much you list engages with your emails, i.e., opens and clicks. If the engagement is slow, make sure you have double have opt-in in place and also place where they can choose the frequency of the emails they receive from you. Yes, that means fewer people on your list, but they will definitely be more engaged and qualified. Also, make sure you are that you are setting proper expectations, and they remember you.

      14. Lazy List Management A.K.A. Not Building Lists

        (source: unbounce)
        It’s so easy to build a list and then forget all about it. However, you need to constantly work on improving the performance of the list. Remove all the emails that bounce and move people who have stopped engaging with your emails  to another list. Sending emails to only to engaged list members will increase your deliverability.

      15. Expecting New Creative to Immediately Lift Metrics

        (source: Marketingprofs)
        The problem with new creative is that it is new. You don’t know if it is going to work. What you can do though is before you get a new creative going, form a couple hypotheses based on the persona’s you have created. Then, test it. It will help you figure out what works, and it will help improve your personas.

      16. Focusing Only on ROI

        .  (source: Marketingprofs)
        Not all your marketing emails are going to drive conversions and revenue. And that’s not the only type of marketing emails you should be sending out. Your email marketing should have three goals:

        1. Improve brand recognition,
        2. Get people in the habit of clicking links in your emails (so they click when it counts the most – bottom of the funnel) and
        3. To influence them earlier in the buying cycle (not in a manipulative way).

      17. Thinking Email Exists in a Silo

        (source: Marketingprofs)
        Passing the leads to sales once they are sales qualified is an old way of doing this. Sales and marketing need to be integrated. They are partners in crime. Sales need to know what the customer knows, sales also needs to be on social channels being a source of information for

      18. Emailing too Often and Emailing too Little

        (source: business2community)
        Too many emails and you are risking banner blindness and fewer emails (even if they are sent consistently). It also means you may be forgotten and worse, they will lose interest. You do not want to stop selling if they are not ready to buy and you don’t want to keep selling when are ready to buy from you.

      19. Sending Emails that Offer no Value

        (source: business2community)
        An email with no value, usually means you are not targeting your prospect for the stage of the cycle they are in. But you could use AIDA to plan your lifecycle marketing campaigns. Getting them to sign up is the “Attention” part of AIDA. The next part in the process is to keep their “Interest”, which is what your emails will do. And your behavioral emails will create “Desire” which will then lead to “Action” aka sale. So send the right type of info means you are sending and evoking the right mix of emotion and logic.

      20. Using Spam Words

        (source: business2community)
        You might be using spam words without even knowing. Here’s a list for your reference: The ultimate list of spam words.

      21. Sending Emails That Offer no Call to Action

        (source: business2community)
        This is a big no-no. Enough said. Although the next one might not be so obvious.

      22. Not Using Ttransactional Emails to Drive Conversions

        Transactional emails have the highest open rates. Use that to your advantage and ask them to take action. What type of actions, you say? How about asking for referrals in your invoice?

        People are most excited about your product when they have made the purchase. Because if your product is bad, it’s just going to downhill from there (and you have bigger problems). If your product is good then, it will eventually seamlessly integrate into their workflow and become invisible. So the best time to ask them to take action is when they are happy.

      23. Sending Emails that Offer no Links to External Content

        (source: business2community)
        Again, all your emails should drive action, but make sure these CTAs are low risk. That is, you are not asking for a big commitment. If they have to make a big decision every time you ask them to take action, you are going to lose them. You are going to build a habit of avoiding taking action.

        Eventually, you will have to ask them to make a big decision (aka part with their money). But by then you will have built trust by managing their expectations properly, which leads me to the next mistake…

      24. Poorly Managed Reader Expectations

        (source: hubspot)
        When you ask people to take action, whether its opening your email or clicking on your CTA, you need to make sure, you are giving them exactly what they are expecting.

        I am not talking about click bait. I am talking about things you do unintentionally.

        You might not be trying to manipulate them, but you need to know your customers and their personas to understand how they might interpret  what you have written. If you don’t manage their expectations well, their trust will soon erode. That means you won’t be able to convince them to take action or spend that money with you over your competitors.

      25. Overuse or Underuse of Personalization

        (source: hubspot)

        You don’t want to act like you are high school buddies with your customers, but at the same time you don’t want to act like you haven’t even bothered to learn who they are. I am sure you know that. But what you need to be careful about is the gradual familiarity that will develop over time.

        You should gradually boost your personalization depending on where they are in the cycle just as a sales person would do. How you talk to them after they signed up will be quite different after they have opened and responded to a couple of your emails just like it would be in face-to-face interaction. It’s lots more that just from using a personal tone in your copy.

      26. Infrequent Testing

        (source: hubspot)
        Testing is one of the most overlooked parts of email marketing. Just like you can’t dig a well when you are thirsty, you can cannot test your emails when you are driving an important campaign. Run tests that will reveal more about your segments and personas earlier. So you can run successful campaigns when it counts.
        Some other things to test:

        1. Varying content lengths
        2. How many times you repeat the CTA
        3. Location of the image on the page
      27. Buyers Cycle vs. Sales Cycle

        This is the one of the hardest part of email marketing. Each of your verticals or personas will have different priorities based on what role your product plays in their professional and personal life.

        For example, if a company sells tools to protect against hurricane, your weather app is not going to be a priority unless it is hurricane season. On the other hand, if a company needs to watch out for huge fluctuations in temperature, finding a weather app to help them is going to be high on her priority list. Selling and influencing these two companies requires understanding both your buyer’s cycle and your sales cycle.

      28. Building Persona’s Once

        Most of us create personas and then forget all about it. Let’s admit who has the time. But this is one item that will boost both your conversions and because personas will help create smarter segmentations. That means keep testing your hypothesis and updating your personas. Don’t just use A/B testing. Supplement it with customer interviews.

      29. Setting Short Term Goals for Campaigns

        Campaigns by nature make us think short term. They have a start and an end date. However, we need to see that our efforts tie into the main goals. For example, do you changes in sales KPIs like growth in sales pipeline, shorter sales cycle or increased qualified leads.

      30. Not Using the Industry Language

        People buy from people they like i.e., those who are similar to them, who behave like them and who talk like them. So, if you want build trust and want them pay attention to your messaging, learn their language and speak in their language.

      31. Being Leeching Larry Instead of Giving Gary

        (sourceNoah Kagan & Neville Medhora)
        We all hate friends and people who are asking for favors and never thinking about how they can help us. I bet your customers think the same. Here is how Neville explains it:
        In the marketing world however, people turn into THATdouchebag Leeching Larry:
        “How do I raise my prices?”
        “How do I double my email list quickly?”
        “How do I increase my website traffic?”
        “How do I get people to pay me more money?”
        “How do I build a big business so I don’t have to work?”
        “I want to grow my email list to 10,000 people.”

        SO instead let’s flip all these questions around, and ask them like Giving Gary would ask them.
        “What can I give away that would help 10,000 people?
        “What will 10,000 people how to double their sales?”

As they say, the “devil” is in the details. So while all these don’t seem like a big deal avoid these email marketing mistakes can boost sales and customer loyalty. Those little personal touches go a long way to show a customer you care.

It can get you word of mouth as companies like Grasshopper, Brooks Brothers and many others have seen. And it can also reactivate hot leads that have stopped responding.

For example, GraniteMed sent one handwritten letter and they reactivated 47% of their dead leads. Learn how you can do it too.

Author: MailLift

1,000+ companies trust MailLift's software, handwriting services, and confidentiality to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers.