Email Best Practices

10 common email marketing mistakes to avoid in your campaign

Email marketing is a crucial tool, but mistakes happen. Before you hit send, read through our ten common email marketing mistakes and learn how to avoid them. Your campaign recipients will thank you.

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Steve Jobs once said, “It’s impossible to fail if you learn from your mistakes.” If you’re here today, it either means you want to learn from others’ mistakes or you’ve made a few yourself. Either way, email marketing blunders are a chance to dissect bad thinking and make better decisions moving forward.

Let’s begin when someone opens their computer to start the workday – they check their email and see a bunch of email marketing newsletters that arrived in their inbox overnight. Then, they likely delete the ones that don’t interest them. As a result, they usually don’t make it to the landing page marketers were hoping they would.

And yet, those digital marketers who somehow convinced them to add them to their email list will keep including them as a recipient of their email marketing campaigns. So, what’s going on?

We’re here to discuss the common email marketing mistakes that result in low metrics and their failure to capture their audience’s attention. But before discussing that, let’s explore what email newsletters are, including some of the best practices.

How to make a proper email campaign from start to call to action

At its core, an email marketing campaign is a strategic set of emails sent out with a goal in mind. Companies build marketing campaigns for several reasons: to inform the public about a new product or service, spread the word about some discount or promotion, or send them out to build a stronger connection with their audience.

These reasons are often referred to as the call to action (CTA) in marketing jargon. The success rate of an email campaign is measured by how many people react favorably to a CTA by signing up, downloading, or making a purchase.

But if you’re reading this, you probably want to learn something new. And according to the experts at Hubspot, your return on investment (ROI) with email campaigns is a startling 4200%. Plus, according to the consumer data professionals at Statista, the pool of email users is getting even more crowded, with projections indicating that the numbers will reach 4.6 billion people by 2025.

Not only are email campaigns here to stay, they’re a dynamic and reliable way to connect with your audience, stir up leads, and generate revenue.

Best email marketing practices

Now, as promised, let’s explore some email marketing best practices:

1. Create a content plan 

The first thing any experienced marketer will tell you is that you need to create a content plan. This is like the list of herbs and spices that are vital to keeping your stir-fry from tasting bland. Think of it this way: Your content is the template through which you’re proving value to your audience, and your content plan is the brief that this value is presented in.

As valuable and worthwhile as email campaigns are, it’s a saturated and competitive market. You need to give people a reason to consume your content over someone else’s.

2. Write an enticing email subject line

Have you thought about what your goals are for your campaign? Can you pitch them to your mother or partner in 30 seconds?

Good, because now you’ve got to do just that except in email form, and instead of your mother, it’s your target audience (which could include your mother…or not). Subject lines are the first thing your readers see, and they only spend about 51 seconds on them, so you want them to hook and reel in your readers.

The best way to get them right is to A/B test your subject lines. Not everyone reacts to different types of headlines in the same way, and sometimes something you would click on isn’t something others will be enticed by. Running A/B tests on your subject lines and pre-headers is a bulletproof way to find what works with your audience.

Once you’ve got your subject line done, it’s time to write the body of your newsletter.

3. Determine your KPIs

The next step is to figure out your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the campaign monitors that help you quantify the success or failure of your campaign. KPIs are how you evaluate whether your campaign is going well. They can also show you what you need to fix if it isn’t. Examples of KPIs include conversion rates, follower growth, or sales.

4. Find the best sending time

After KPIs, you need to figure out the best time to send your content to your consumers. You need to have a clear idea of who your audience is and when the best time to receive and read a newsletter is for them. If you sell candles, you might want to send an email reminding everyone of your fall-themed candles as summer is coming to an end. If you offer a meditation app, it might be best to send it first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, when people aren’t going to ignore your email to keep working.

Think through when the optimal time is so that your newsletter ends up at the top of your audience’s inbox at a time when they’ll actually read it and reach your CTA.

5. Manage your contact list 

If an email newsletter is sent out and no one is around to read it, does it exist? It’s crucial to keep track of the emails that you’re sending the newsletter to. That means combing through your contact list and making sure each address is active.

You’ll get bonus points if you consolidate those emails into a database and segment it based on your target demographics. For example, you can give yourself extra columns and segments based on age, gender, income level, and any other relevant qualifiers. Keeping these attributes top of mind is sure to increase your open rate.

Remember that it’s important that your audience knows they’ve opted in to receive your newsletter. Use a sign-up form to ensure your audience understands that they’re giving you their email in exchange for information they actually want to receive from you to avoid being marked as spam.

Once you’ve implemented these steps, it’s time to send out your newsletter. Once it arrives in people’s inboxes, you can start measuring those KPIs to see if your audience is converting.

How to avoid common email marketing mistakes

Now that you know what to do when creating a marketing campaign, let’s talk about what not to do. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid in your email marketing campaigns.

1. Sending identical content to everybody

Think about it – would you tell a story about something funny that happened in the same way to your mother, best friend, and 10-year-old nephew? Probably not. Just as different people are more or less receptive to a story, others have various reasons to engage with your email marketing content. Some digital content writers treat their audience as a cohort rather than distinct groups of people.

Naturally, these different demographics might be more or less interested in your content, depending on its formatting and relevance. We recommend segmenting your audience based on qualifiers like age or occupation, then send them content related to their pain points.

Hubspot’s blog is set up to do this with four options to select when you sign up for their marketing content: Marketing, Sales, Service, and Agency. As the consumer, you choose which content is relevant to you, and Hubspot now has you classified in a segment of their audience and will only send you relevant content that you actually want to receive.

You should also send test emails to see how they will display for mobile users. Some apps will show your emails differently, which might not be the most effective.

2. Not making it personal

There are several techniques to implement a degree of personalization to your email marketing, and together they can produce higher open and click-through rates (CTR). The modern consumer is savvy, and that creates an expectation to have a more meaningful relationship with the companies who make the products and services they pay for. People respond more positively to personalized messages versus ones that aren’t.

You miss out on these opportunities by not personalizing your email marketing. Think about how nice it is when someone remembers your name. Addressing a customer directly will improve their email experience. We suggest using tools like automation to engage with consumers based on their activity or where they’re at in the customer journey, or even to deliver unique content on their birthday. Sending personalized emails makes your content more relevant to your audience, which increases their chance of interacting with your content, reaching your CTA, and making a purchase.

3. Failing to correlate the email subject line with its content

Writing a catchy and highly searchable headline is a kind of art. But make sure the email's content fully reflects what it promises the subscriber. Otherwise, if you fail to deliver on the promises you’ve made with your subject line, the number of complaints and unsubscribed users may increase.

4. Sending out newsletters with no value 

Emails that bring no extra value to the reader are useless. There must be something more besides a catchy subject line in the high-paced world of hundreds of daily inbox messages. Today, some newsletters downgrade to the level of product/service promotion or cold sales with no regard and care for the reader and their interests.

Achieve your business goals based on what the readers care about. Start thinking like your customer base – study their fears, expectations, and doubts concerning your product. This will make the content useful, memorable, and shareable.

5. Neglecting audience pain points 

Before you send your first email, you should stop and consider what problems your target audience has and how you can address them. Doing so can actually help you generate ideas and inform the content you create. Two strategies we recommend for this are using surveys and consumer personas.

You can survey your target demographic and ask them questions to better understand their day-to-day struggles, indicating to you what topics and subject matter you should be covering in your email marketing content.

Customer personas are imaginary people you’re trying to target with your content. Considering a person’s gender, age, marital status, occupation, and income level can help narrow down the kind of content you produce to address the customer’s needs.

6. Failing to schedule regular emails

Some companies run chaotic email campaigns. They send out emails with no system and no schedule. Receiving no emails from a company for months and then a couple of emails within a week is jarring. Such situations often occur when there’s no email marketer in the company for a few months, or they’re reworking their content strategy.

Planning is critical for effective email marketing. Create a plan for the next few months. Emails can be sent daily, weekly, or monthly. It all depends on your email marketing strategy and the products or services you offer.

Mailjet offers excellent scheduling options and RSS feeds (which, in fact, enables you to easily add any website/blog post right in the Mailjet email builder). This comes in handy when dealing with bulk information and wishing to automate the process of informing the customers. The content gets easily imported in three easy steps.

7. Ignoring sender reputation 

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) rank senders based on certain quantifiers that determine how trustworthy you are. They filter senders to figure out who is a genuine person sending accurate information versus a lowly spammer. Your sender reputation is assessed according to things like your bounce rate, daily volume, and unsubscribe rate.

Your bounce rate is determined by how many of your sent emails make it to an inbox compared to ones that don’t. To avoid this and increase your email deliverability, make sure you’re going through your email list regularly to remove inactive emails.

Daily volume refers to how many emails you’re sending per day. If you send too many emails, ISPs may target you as spam. Schedule and send targeted and specific emails to your audience to avoid oversending.

Finally, your unsubscribe rate is the number of people unsubscribing from your email marketing content. To keep your unsubscribe rate low, use strategies that ensure the people who subscribe to your email marketing content actually want to receive it.

8. Being stamped as spam

One major mistake, quite often done deliberately, is making it difficult for users to find the unsubscribe button. While this might make it harder for people to leave your list, it’s also the perfect way to drive your spam complaints up. When your unsubscribe link is hidden, guess which button is easier to find? That big spam button ISPs leave before the header of your email. Goodbye sender reputation, hello low deliverability.

Another issue that often causes higher spam complaints is an inconsistent sending pattern – undersending can lead to your subscribers forgetting who you are and that they had once opted in to receive your emails. A good content plan will map the right cadence of emails to keep readers curious and engaged.

9. Sending irrelevant emails

One of the most complex parts of developing email marketing content is keeping things interesting for your audience. They’ve signed up to receive content from you because they thought it would bring them value. Sending irrelevant content to your email recipients is a surefire way to drive up your unsubscribe rate. If you promised your audience that your content would address a particular pain point, you need to deliver.

We suggest being abundantly clear and telling your audience what kind of content they should expect from you. Maybe include a pop-up notification at the opt-in stage that tells the reader what the theme of your email marketing content is and how often they can expect to hear from you. You could even let them select what type of emails they want to receive. For example, if your audience knows they will receive content from you every morning, they’ll stay subscribed (even if they don’t always read it).

10. Not updating your database 

Usually, emails are collected for years. Once a marketer decides to get started with newsletters (or other email promotions), using an old email database becomes one of your deadly sins. Most email marketing automation platforms and email providers require a high-quality database. Here are some tips to make sure you’re sending to a healthy database:

  1. Enable double opt-in subscriptions to avoid collecting any illegitimate email addresses.

  2. Build your database gradually. This is a highly time-consuming yet effective technique that requires you to deal with and test the latest emails, delete inactive ones, and so on.

  3. Try to use some email validation services.

Wrapping up

Email marketing is a crucial tool, when done properly. Don’t be afraid to test your newsletters and marketing emails, collect feedback from your subscribers, and learn from the stats. This will let you create unique email campaigns, elbow the competitors out of the way, get noticed, and yes, get your emails opened and read.

But tried and true email best practices are only half the battle. Choosing a feature-rich email service provider is essential to practice your email marketing wisdom. Mailjet has an array of tools – like campaign personalization, list segmentation, and A/B testing – to enable you to implement all the best practices covered here today.

Now you have the knowledge and tools, go forth, test, and make more mistakes! Because mistakes are an essential part of being a better email marketer. Just make sure it’s not one of the mistakes listed here today…

Create and send your email newsletters with Mailjet

If you’re struggling to run a successful email campaign, let Mailjet help you with your premium email marketing services.

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