We spend a lot of time giving advice about how to prepare, design, and deliver your email newsletters.
But what about the things you need to make sure you don’t do? Use this quick checklist to make sure you avoid some of the most popular and devastating email marketing mistakes.
1. Sending a non-targeted email
Send people the content they are interested in. Without segmenting your database, there is almost no chance that the content you send will be relevant to everyone who receives it. If you’re a clothing store, chances are that your male customers are not interested in your sale on polka dot dresses for teenagers.
2. Writing a subject line that is too long or unclear
“New High-Tech! Discover new speakers HiFi Audio Stereo Db + 00X21 with SoundDigitalTech Sensor + / UltraHighQuality (UHQ) and our motor amps on wheels from $299.98 only! “
OK so maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Your subject acts as the teaser for your email, and needs to make the reader want to open your message. Don’t try to squeeze your entire catalog of product references and features into this one statement! Keep it simple, short, and enticing.
3. Using an anonymous or “no-reply” reply-to address
It’s 2015. The foundation of digital marketing is built on advancements in real-time communication and social interaction. You’re sending an email; you cannot possibly tell someone not to reply to this email! Not only should you use a functioning reply-to email address, but why not make it personal? Put a name and face to your company by using a real person’s email address.
4. Sending to unsubscribed contacts
You already had your shot. You gave it a try, but these contacts simply don’t want your emails anymore. As a recipient, you know there is nothing more annoying than getting emails you’re sure you said you didn’t want to receive anymore. And please – no tricks: “You’ve unsubscribed from our newsletter, but not our promotions”. Unless your unsubscribe tool gives users the option to choose to stay included in certain types of emails, remove means remove.
5. Sending too irregularly
We’re a little more tolerant about this mistake than some of the others. It’s understandable, at first. It isn’t easy to find the right frequency when you are first starting out with your email campaigns. Timing depends on factors like email content and your audience’s preference. However, keep in mind that people tend to value consistency and come to expect a certain amount of messages from you at certain times. Through testing, try to develop a schedule and stick to it.
6. Not sending often enough
Sending too often or with no schedule comes with problems, but not sending enough can be just as bad! If you go too long without communicating with your recipients, you fall out of touch and out of mind. Don’t expect great results if you go 6 months without sending an email, only to suddenly pop up with a random promotion. Email marketing and newsletters are about consistency and relevant, timely information.
7. Not being professional
We’re not saying not to be relaxed or informal in your messaging if your brand allows for it. The mistake here is to cross the line from informal to unprofessional. This probably doesn’t need further explanation, but we’ll give it a go anyway. Aside from the content of your email, we’ve all received a response that says something like “stop sending me these $&%!*$ emails!”. Everyone who has ever felt an emotion has thought “look buddy, there is an unsubscribe link. Just remove yourself”. But we don’t say that. We’re professionals. Kindly unsubscribe the recipient, and move on with your positive brand image is still intact. The truth about today’s constantly connected world is that a little bit of bad buzz spreads like wildfire across social media.
8. Being too cold or distant
When I get an email that starts with “Dear Sir/Madam”, I immediately check out. This email is obviously not personalized or targeted for me. In fact, they don’t even know enough about me to use the proper greeting! This email was obviously just a massive copy/paste job, blasted out to whoever will listen. An email with no warmth or soul is just a more invasive billboard.
9. Creating a design that is too complex and confusing
Keep the design of your emails simple, elegant, and balanced. Nothing good ever came from an email loaded with WordArt, 20 different font styles and colors, distorted images, and text aligned every which way. Your email content should flow in a way that makes sense, guiding the reader from one part to another and clearly delivering the most important concepts of the message.
10. Using too much text or too many images
When it comes to email deliverability, we talk a lot about the text to image ratio. An email that is made up primarily of images without content that can be read by spam filters is likely to find its way to the junk folder. It’s also important to be mindful of your image “weight”. Too many images with big file sizes creates a heavy email, with good chances of not being delivered to the inbox. Regardless of the ratio, use your images and text wisely. Make sure there is not so much of either that the important content gets lost in the shuffle.
Forgetting an unsubscribe link isn’t just annoying for your readers, it’s illegal. In the US, all email marketing campaigns must include a working unsubscribe option. If you’re using Mailify (because come on, you are!), then our moderation team will send the campaign back to you to add an unsubscribe link before allowing it to be sent.
While the web copy is not life-or-death, nor is it legally binding, it is an easy way to maximize your effectiveness. Generally, between 5 and 10 percent of your clicks will be to this link. This is because the web copy allows the email to display properly in a browser, bypassing any issues (like image display) that may have been caused by the recipient’s email client.
12. Creating an email that isn’t responsive
The people have spoken, and responsive design can no longer be considered a fad or option. At least half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, so sending an email that doesn’t adapt to them is the same as cutting your contact list in half! If you’re using Mailify, you have nothing to worry about since the EmailBuilder automatically creates responsive designs. If you’re not using an email service provider that automatically makes emails responsive, it would be worthwhile to hire a web or email designer to create a responsive template for you.
13. Not testing your email on different services before sending
Unfortunately, when it comes to email clients, not all are created equal. It is all too common for your email to look perfectly fine in Gmail, but not at all how you wanted it to in Outlook. Make sure to not only test your email several times for yourself, but to test it in whatever different email services your recipient’s are likely to be using. Mailify’s GetInBox extension will allow you to do just that, so you can account for any possible compatibility issues before they hit the inbox.
14. Sending an email with your test content
Depending on your personal preferences for how to create an email campaign, many people start with a template. Often times, this template has filler content (like the Latin text you see in many of our templates) that let you see how the design will look after you add your own content. Forgetting to replace this content with your own, or leaving the word “test” in your subject line from your test sends, is a good way to look unprofessional and wind up in the junk box. Make sure you proofread your content, and have others review it as well for an extra set of eyes.
15. Using your personal email service to send marketing campaigns
We could write an entire post about why you shouldn’t do this (actually, we have). The short and sweet version of it is this: personal email services like Outlook or Gmail do not let you manage bounces or opt-outs, design responsive HTML templates, track results, or use a professional routing server to not get blacklisted! They simply aren’t meant to be used that way.
16. Not optimizing the pre-header
The email pre-header is one of the most underutilized elements of an email campaign. Think of the pre-header as the text that comes before your main email, and is the preview snippet shown by the email clients before the user clicks to open it (think of the desktop notification you get from outlook, or the 2 lines of the email your iPhone shows you before opening). Just like your subject line, the pre-header gives you an opportunity to “hook” your reader – make them want to read the email. Without paying attention to this section, many emails wind up having a pre-header that’s just the line about viewing the web version (since that is often the first text). Get creative and take full advantage of this opportunity!
17. Not analyzing your results
The inherent beauty of email marketing – and digital marketing in general – is that everything comes with statistics. As marketers, not paying attention to your results means not improving. Each email campaign should be more effective than the last, since you’ve reviewed the previous campaign’s analytics and made adjustments based on what you learned regarding what works and what doesn’t for your recipients.
17 1/2. Not using Mailify
OK, shameless plug time. Could you create an effective email marketing or newsletter campaign without Mailify? Maybe, but why would you ever want to!? Simple to use and loaded with the tools you need, we’ll help you make the most of your email marketing.