You’ve Got Mail: 8 Email Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Unlike social media or newspaper adverts, email marketing is one of the only forms of advertising that covers all generations. From Baby Boomers to Gen X, we’re all using email.

Maybe it’s because of this ability to reach far and wide that email marketing is the most cost-effective and efficient form of marketing. In fact, according to stats, email marketing is the number one most effective method of both attracting *and* retaining customers. 

But hold the phone. Don’t start haphazardly sending out thousands of emails. There’s a certain art to email marketing. Without a proper strategy, email marketing can cost a company lots of time and lots of money. 

So, to avoid any mishaps or misuses, let’s look at some of the most common email marketing mistakes that businesses make and discuss how your brand can avoid them.

email marketing

1. Boring Subject Lines

Did you know that the subject line is THE most crucial part of any email? Around a third of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. This means that poor subject lines could make or break an entire email marketing campaign.

Additionally, experts believe that the average person receives upwards of 120 emails per day. That’s one crowded inbox. Therefore, it’s *really* important to get your email to stand out with a fun subject line. 

Make a good first impression with something short, snappy, and to the point. If you’re a fun-loving, playful brand, scatter in an emoji as well. The pop of colour will definitely help draw the readers eye to your email. 

The most important thing is making your subject line relevant enough, topical enough, and intriguing enough that your audience won’t be able to scroll past it without having a peek at what’s inside. 

2. Over the Top Subject Lines

Too many capitalisations, too many emojis, and clickbait-y language can be a big put off for many people. Not to mention, emails with OTT subject lines run the risk of ending up in the spam folder. 

Grab your subscribers’ attention with the language you use instead.

Certain power words can help increase opening rates. For instance, words like ‘Introducing’ or ‘Invitation’ are particularly intriguing to recipients. They invoke curiosity in the reader and compel them to find out more. In addition, personal words, such as ‘we’ or ‘you’, are amongst some of the top power words with higher opening rates. 

And what’s even better is including a subscriber’s real name in the subject line. Studies show that the opening rate of emails with subject lines containing the recipient’s first name is 29% higher than those that don’t. These emails also have a 41% higher click rate. 

There are lots of ways to play with language to optimise your email marketing campaigns. It’s all about testing it out and figuring out your brand’s voice. 

And if you still need some advice on perfecting your email subject lines, don’t worry. We’ve got a blog for that too.

3. Forgetting Mobile Users

In 2007, Apple CEO and certified genius Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, a portable mobile device designed to fit in the palm of your hand. Nowadays, a large percentage of the planet walks around with an iPhone or some kind of smart device in hand, constantly connected to the world wide web. So, why is it that so many email marketers forget about mobile phone users? 

According to studies, roughly 81% of people prefer to read their emails on their mobile devices. It’s crucial that this demographic be catered for when you’re strategising an email marketing campaign. 

Particularly, it’s been noted that poor mobile email formats are a definite deal-breaker for many people. In fact, up to 70% of the time, when an email loads poorly, that email will be deleted in under 3 seconds. Ouch. 

When designing your email marketing strategy, consider the following: smaller screens, narrower line measures, poor internet connection. 

Do some testing of your email content to see how clumped together your wording is on a mobile device, whether the graphics will load properly, or whether or not your subject line will be cut off. 

Your main goal is to make sure that EVERYONE can read your emails. Including those darn kids with their god-darn iPhones.

4. Too Frequent

Ever heard the saying absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, this definitely applies to emailing clients. 

According to a study by Campaign Monitor, 48.5% of customers have flagged an email as spam when it comes from a company that sends out emails too frequently. Additionally, over-emailing is the most common cause of unsubscribing. 

The important thing is not to overcrowd someone’s inbox with your content. Best case scenario, your audience will lose interest in your brand. Worst case scenario, they’ll get annoyed at the constant emailing and unsubscribe.

Instead, sending out emails less frequently keeps people interested and excited about what you’re sending over. Plus, it means you’ll only be emailing when you have something truly exciting, like a sale or a new product launch.

‘But, how often is too often?’ I hear you ask. That, I do not know. 

Every industry is different, as is every business. What is too often for one company may not be enough for another. A business should always, always, always, undergo an extensive testing period when starting an email marketing campaign. 

That way, you can figure out what number works for your brand and for your target audience.

5. Overfilled Emails

Not a lot of customers want to open up their inbox and read an essay. Therefore, it’s important to avoid overfilling your email and overwhelming your readers.

Each email you send out needs to have a specific message, such as promoting the latest sale or new product. An integral part of this message is the call to action, a prompt at the end of the email asking the reader to visit your website or make a purchase.

This call to action needs to be easily accessible for the readers. Too much text can result in the call to action fading into the background. Not to mention, the customer might disengage with the content before they’ve even reached the halfway point. Your call to action needs to take centre stage in the email. It’s not a background character.

Avoid text-heavy, cramped emails. Only include what you have to and make sure the content is well-spaced out and easy to read on all kinds of devices.

6. Shoddy Visuals

In this age of social media, many individuals have become accustomed to consuming their information through visual media. In fact, it’s been noted that the human brain is actually able to process visual content 60,000 times faster than text.

So it makes sense that successful email marketing campaigns need to be accompanied by exciting visuals. 

A visually pleasing email will not only grab the email reader’s attention but incorporating relevant imagery into your strategy may also encourage your subscribers to act on that call to action. 

For instance, pictures of holiday-goers on sandy beaches are likely to give a reader that summery feeling that’ll have them stocking up on flip-flops and kaftans in your latest summer sale.

So when you’re planning your email marketing campaign, do not underestimate the power of visuals. 

Now we know that graphic design is not everybody’s forte. That’s not a problem. Here at DMT, we’ve got a whole team of designers ready to make your email marketing campaigns look like they deserve a spot in the Louvre.

7. Weak Call to Action

Imagine you’ve drawn someone in with a killer subject line, intrigued them with your perfect visuals, and then…a weak, hard to find call to action. 

The call to action (CTA) generally takes the form of a button or a hyperlinked body of text at the end of the email. The purpose of the CTA is to direct the reader to the business website where they can then purchase the products or services being offered. 

An issue that can often occur is the CTA being unclear or being hard amongst the visuals and text of the email. These issues, however, can be quickly fixed.

With CTAs, the secret is kind of in the name. They need to inspire *action*. Use words that imply urgency, like ‘Shop now’. And if you’re holding a sale, include this within your CTA to motivate a potential shopper to make a purchase.

The key to a good CTA within an email format is being clear and concise. Don’t overcomplicate things. For example, ‘Visit our website’, ‘Sign up for our free trial’, ‘Shop our sale’. These are all easy, simple to follow CTAs, which are encouraging without being too pushy. 

Visually, your CTA should also be easy to find within the email. Having your CTA enlarged, emboldened or on a colourful button makes it unmissable.

8. Not Knowing When To Say Goodbye

It would be a dream if every subscriber on your email marketing list were an engaged and frequent customer. But sometimes, this just isn’t the case. Subscribers can go from opening every email and making a purchase, to being a total ghost. 

For a company, this can be worrisome. Especially as many email platforms flag emails that are being frequently received but never opened as spam.

That said, there are many ways in which you can bring these ghosts back to life. 

Through a re-engagement campaign, you can send out little offers or promos here and there to encourage any inactive email contacts to re-engage and buy again. Additionally, if these are also going unopened, many businesses may choose to reach out one final time. 

Sending out a final email gives you the chance to pitch your business to these inactive customers once more, reminding them of the perks of shopping with you. This can help re-engage the ghosts in your contact list. Or, it could give them the opportunity to opt out of your emailing list themselves. 

If, that after all this, you’re still being totally ghosted, it may very well be worth your time to cut them loose. 

Whilst it’s always hard to say goodbye, you don’t want your email contact list so full of ghosts that you could start up a haunted house experience. 

Looking for some email marketing inspo? Check out our top 5 picks of brands who are killing it with their email marketing campaigns.


DMT is a digital marketing team based in the heart of Manchester. If you’re interested in seeing how we can help your business succeed online, get in touch, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.