14 email marketing mistakes to avoid

Omnichannel is the pioneering way forward in marketing but one thing hasn't changed: our love for email. Email still rules the roost!

We may be omnichannel marketers now, but email still plays an important role in every brand’s marketing function. That’s because email ROI is a whopping £42! (DMA Email Benchmarking Report.)

We’ve gone back to our roots and identified 14 email mistakes that you should avoid like the plague. Happy reading 🙂

1. Omitting the unsubscribe and privacy policy in email

This is a legal no-no. Absolutely unacceptable and dodgy AF. You’ll make subscribers angry if they feel like they have no option to opt out. Ensure the unsubscribe is unambiguously visible at the bottom of your email and always link through to your privacy policy. Subscribers will trust your brand much much more if you’re playing by the rules.

No email unsubscribe

2. Using bad grammar

Nothing will kill your conversion more than bad grammar and spelling errors. You’ll lose all credibility if you’re mixing up your yours with your you’res, your theres with your theirs and they’res. Awks. Cringe, right? Developing an eye for detail will put your email marketing in good stead. Good grammar is sexy, and so is your brand!

Email spelling

3. Forgetting to welcome email subscribers

Don’t get off on the wrong foot. Send new subscribers a welcome email that tells them who you are and what they expect from you. Include your USPs and ask for the preferences you need to tailor their email experience. Whether they engage or don’t engage with you depends on what you do with this one email, so get it right!

Welcome email

4. Placing the email’s call to action below the fold

This one is plain stupid. If you want subscribers to take an action, place the call above the fold where it’s clearly visible. Device optimization is key – make sure you test on mobile to make sure the experience mirrors that on other screens. Try the inverted pyramid method – it grabs attention, builds the anticipation, and draws the reader’s eye to the all-important action. All in all, it works a treat!

Email pyramid

5. Not meeting email subscribers’ expectations

If you made a bold promise on sign-up, you need to stick to it. It won’t matter how amazing your product or how great your copy, people will unsubscribe. Subscribing to a brand’s newsletters and then not receiving what I agreed to (namely promotions, editorial, etc.) really gets under my skin. The answer is delivering on your content promise and managing your email frequency. So, just send subscribers what you promised them in the first place and everyone’s a happy bunny. Bosh!

Email expectations

6. Sending sh!t looking emails

Design should leave your subscribers hungry. Think about when you go to a restaurant. If you’re presented with a sloppy bowl of goulash and a more appetizing plate of silky mushroom risotto topped with a piece of seared salmon and a scatter of crunchy scallions, which are you likely to choose? We eat first with our eyes. By the same token, conversion starts with beautiful design.

Email design

7. Bombarding your email list

Don’t send to all. Use the data you hold on subscribers to segment your lists: preferences, demographics, website behavior, orders, email activity. The targeting opportunities are endless! Decide on who will want to hear from you and about what. Your engagement rates will soar because the message will be more relevant to the recipient.

Email segments

8. Not using data to follow up

Email activity is rich insight. If you send a new subscriber a welcome voucher and they open the email but don’t redeem the offer, send them a reminder. The rule is simple and you can set up an ongoing segment that triggers these nudges in the background. The same goes for your lucrative cart recovery and abandoned browse emails. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Data-triggered email

9. Being too salesy

Cut the sales chat. Now. Talk to prospects like you would a friend. Make your prompts funny and be down to earth. No one likes a blanket sales email that has no relevance to them whatsoever. The same goes for B2C: Subject lines that refer to yet another sale or promotion will fall flat and get lost among hundreds of other similar emails in the inbox. Be personal and purposeful; talk about your customer, not you. Get a copy of our 14 free sales and marketing templates for some inspiration.

Sales

10. Neglecting mobile users

Mobile is nothing new. Mobile optimization is not revolutionary. Mobile-first strategies are no longer a game-changer. Hopefully you’re already sending emails that render flawlessly on Android and iPhone. Otherwise you might find that your email conversion rates have hit rock bottom. Design email for the mobile consumer first and foremost. Just think about it. We’re constantly on the move, tapping away. On public transport we’re digesting content, not talking to actual human beings! Sad, right? But that’s the status quo. Plus, the demise of the desktop has been a long time coming. For someone who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, admitting that desktop is dying a slow death is pretty tough. Who else misses the excruciating sound of the dial-up modem?

Best advice: go mobile and stay there. Don’t forget to test, too! Grab our best practice guide on designing email for mobile here.

mobile

11. Employing a robotic tone of voice

Authentic brands talk like their customers speak. It’s at simple as that. At dotdigital, our tone of voice is semi-informal, friendly, and conversational. I write how our account managers talk to customers over the phone. It’s our job to translate technical language into terminology that everyone can understand. We’re anecdotal and tell stories, because that’s what our customers do. So, to hit the nail on the head, converse with your customers and your tone will soon surface. Check out our copywriting guides for more on tone of voice.

tone of voice

12. Making your email a full-length image

No, no, no. Just no. Stick to the email rule book and mix images with text. Email clients such as Outlook, AOL, and Yahoo! Mail block images automatically. If your email is a full-length image it will look ugly when it lands in the inbox and subscribers may delete it straight away. There’s no guarantee that they’ll download the image(s). Whereas including copy in text format mitigates this effect because it communicates relevancy quickly. For any images you do include with your copy, don’t forget to use the alt text so subscribers can identify the images if they’re turned off.

13. Sending subscribers to a totally irrelevant landing page

If I had a pound for every time I clicked on a specific link and landed on a brand’s homepage, I’d be on a beach in Mauritius instead of writing this blog.

landing page

That’s it folks!

I hope this blog has given you good food for thought. Ridding your email campaigns of any blunders can have a real impact on your bottom line. Be sure to measure the results of any changes you do make. For more advice on how to finesse your email marketing, check out our free Back to Basics email marketing cheatsheet.

Back to basics email