9 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid In 2021

Email marketing still heavily dominates most companies’ digital marketing strategy and with good reason. 81% of SMBs rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention. Here we listed the top email marketing mistakes to avoid for being successful.

As email marketing has become an integral part of everyday business, having a solid game plan whenever you send out an email to thousands of subscribers is the first step if you want to see a higher conversion rate.

Unfortunately, even if you follow every email marketing tip in the rulebook, there is always room for error. On the plus side, there are some really common email marketing mistakes that you can easily avoid.

This post is going to cover 9 of the most common email marketing mistakes we see companies make and how they can hurt your conversions. Solving some very small issues could help your business make more money online with the same amount of effort.

#1 The Content You Are Sending Out Is Not Focused Enough

A lot of companies make the mistake of sending out the same email to all of their subscribers. It is highly unlikely that everyone on your email list is interested in the same content though.

This is where segmenting your email list comes in.

A good way to do this by creating multiple opt-in forms for various pages on your website.

This is because every lead you are trying to capture is different and needs help with different things.

Having different opt-in forms that offer different freebies is a good way to segment your audience.

How do you segment your audience?

Well, it really comes down to breaking your long list of email subscribers into tinier lists that will allow you to send them emails relevant to their interests.

Gathering Dreams, a lifestyle blog, does this with all of their emails. If you take a look at their ‘meal prep recipes’ article, you will find a relevant opt-in form with a free meal planning freebie.

segmenting email marketing audience

On the other hand, if you take a look at their ‘saving money for travel’ article, they use a travel savings plan freebie to convince readers to subscribe to the email list.

email segmenting

Whenever someone subscribes to the ‘meal prep’ opt-in form, they will be added into a categorized list that could hypothetically be called ‘Food’. This will allow the owner of the website to only send food-related information to these subscribers instead of bombarding them with irrelevant emails.

In the long-run, segmenting your email lists will increase your conversion rate and decrease your unsubscriber count.

#2 Having a one-way conversation

A lot of companies make the mistake of sending emails that give readers no way to get in touch with them. They do not engage the reader in conversation and they never speak to the reader like a friend. This is a problem.

Would you like to be receiving constant emails from someone who won’t even let you reply?

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you should never send an email with one of those donotreply@companyname.com type addresses. Instead, try to be personable.

Use emails that include names like john@companyname.com and make sure your subscribers know you are always available to have a quick chat.

You can be the one to start the conversation by asking a question at the end of your emails and linking to your social profiles. This is a good practice to make a habit out of.

This way your subscribers know they can reach out to you and you will become more than just a random company- you can become their friend. That is exactly what you want.

A good example of this is what Freya over at Collecting Cents does whenever she sends emails.


#3 Bombarding Your Audience With Offers and No Actual Information

This happens all the time. You subscribe to an opt-in form hoping for awesome advice and great information but you only wind up receiving tons of emails that mention discounts and various reduced prices.

There is nothing wrong with promoting your services or products within an email but it needs to be alongside great information that you provide as well.

This can be an awesome infographic that you make using graphic design software, an informative video that your audience might find interesting,  or a link to a useful blog post.

A good example of this is what 3d cart, an eCommerce software, does with their emails.

Each one of their emails consists of either link to awesome blog posts or content within their emails that is actionable and worth reading. At the end of the email, they will mention any discounts they have going but they will always add value to each email they send out.

Constantly mentioning discounts and your own products without actually giving away anything of value for free will at best leave your subscriber annoyed and at worst push them to unsubscribe.

#4 Not Including a Clear Call to Action

Let us assume you have an awesome freebie that you are offering people or have a greatly discounted product that is up for grabs. You decide to send over an email to your loyal subscribers to let them know and at the end of the email, you link to the product.

Unfortunately, if your link is hidden in a tiny piece of anchor text, there is a good chance a few of your email subscribers may find it hard to find. Think about people who are not comfortable using technology- would they be able to find your link?

Adding bright buttons or asking people to click on a picture to get to your landing page is a good way to make your call to action as clear as possible.

So, before you start writing your email, have a clear end goal in mind. This could be getting views on a new blog post, sending readers to your landing page, or getting them to take a survey.

You can then design your email in a way where you will guide your reader to the final action.

A good example of this is what TheSavvyCouple do whenever they are including a CTA in their emails:

newsletter cta example

You will notice a few things:

i) They are making what you need to clear by including words like ‘Head here’ or ‘Click here’

ii) They have very clearly highlighted the text that leads to the landing page.

iii) They have repeatedly mentioned the CTA throughout their email.

These are some easy tips you can focus on when you are adding CTAs to your emails.

#5 Trying to Make Your Subject Overtly Innovative- Get to the Point!

You will often hear this (bad) piece of advice- make your subject as interesting and wordy as possible so your subscribers want to open the email.

Sure, to a certain extent, having an interesting subject line is a good idea but if it gets to the point where your subscribers have no idea what your email is all about, it simply becomes annoying.

Always make sure you keep your subject line as honest and informative as possible. A lot of your subscribers will skim through their email subject lines before they decide which ones to open. You want to make sure they are opening yours.

Here are a few tips you will want to keep in mind when writing a subject line:

Keep it short

Make sure your subject line is going to fit in their view screen and not get cut off. There is no point in having an awesome subject line if your subscribers cannot read half of it.

You can even use chat acronyms if you are sending a casual, friendly email. This will help you reduce word count and keep your subject line short.

Use numbers when possible

Using data and numbers to emphasize the importance of what you are saying is always a good way to start. You can use numbers for pretty much anything- the percentage of the discount you are offering, a statistic from a case study, etc.

Here are a few examples:

i) Join 450 people who joined my free online course today!

ii) Here is why 81% of all SMBs rely on email as their primary acquisition source.

iii) Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 50% discount on all of our products.

Get personal

If you have the name of your email subscribers, it would be a good idea to include that in the subject line. So, for example, you could have a subject line like this one-

Hey (first name)! Do you want access to my free course?

It is a good way to target your reader better and increase the chance of them opening your email.

Tell your readers what is inside (do not lie)

Your subject line should be descriptive and honest. It should immediately help your readers figure out what is inside the email.

#6 Sending a Welcome Email

A common mistake you see newbies making is they send over welcome emails to new subscribers. You do not want a generic, welcome email saying ‘Thanks for subscribing!’ to be your first message sent to anybody.

Instead of having a useless welcome email to start off the conversation, try making your first email as informative and useful as possible.

So, if someone signs up for your email list, give them a cool freebie in the first email you send them. You could even send them a link to ‘exclusive resources’ that are only available to your subscribers.

The point is you should not simply be saying ‘Hello’ in your first email. You want to make a good impression.

#7 Not Paying Attention to Data

You will often be left with a boatload of information every time you send an email to your subscribers. This includes the open rate, the time of day when most people opened your email, which links they clicked on, etc.

email open rate data

This data will help you improve future email marketing campaigns that you work on. You can figure out what is working for you, what content your audience enjoys, and what practices to ditch completely.

#8 Focusing on Quantity Instead of Quality

It is always a good idea to focus on building a list of highly engaged subscribers rather than an even longer list of subscribers that are not even opening your emails.

This means that you need to focus on the quality of your subscribers rather than the quantity.

A good practice you should focus on (and one that I have seen plenty of good bloggers and companies focus on for their own list) is to perform an email list clean up every once in a while.

This means removing subscribers that are not opening your emails. This can be pretty scary to do the first time because you cannot help but think ‘Is this a good idea?’ but in the long-run, you are going to want an engaged list of subscribers.

Most email marketing services, like ConvertKit for example, have a ‘Clean Up Inactive’ feature that makes this process pretty easy.

Doing this will also lower your outgoing cost every month. You may be paying for a higher tier plan to send emails depending on how many subscribers you have. If you reduce the number of subscribers you have, you could potentially save money as well. Scaring to remove inactive users is an email marketing mistake.

#9 Sending your email at the wrong time

email marketing mistakes for timing

According to CoSchedule, the best time to send an email is in the late morning during work hours. This is at around 10-11a.m. You will see the best open rates and it is when your list is the most engaged. If you send the emails when nobody checks their emails, probably your campaign will fail. It’s one of the biggest email marketing mistakes.

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