14 email marketing mistakes to avoid

Email marketers and small business owners share their tips on how to decrease the likelihood of your emails being immediately deleted by prospective and existing customers.

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Mistake No. 8: Not having a call-to-action button.

“The point of an email, after all, is to get the user to go somewhere else, be it opening a product page, scheduling a time to speak or booking an appointment,” says Resnick. “Whether your email is quick and to the point or a bit more descriptive and lengthy, a call-to-action button will stand out and allow the reader to easily navigate to what’s important to them (and you) without reading every single word.”

Mistake No. 9: Not proofreading/double checking links.

“There is nothing worse than sending out a newsletter and seeing that the subject line has a grammatical [or spelling] error, or finding out that you [included] the wrong hyperlink,” says Danny Garcia, marketing operations manager, Stacklist. So before hitting ‘send,’ “double check [your] newsletter or, [better yet,] have someone else look it over for you.”

Mistake No. 10: Sending email too frequently/infrequently.

“Most businesses make the mistake of sending too much email to consumers,” says Matthew Bretzius, president, FischTank PR. But the opposite – sending email too infrequently – is also a mistake. “Email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools available, but you’ve got to find the right rhythm. Sending out multiple emails a day is likely too much, whereas sending one out a month might not be enough,” he notes. “Keep an eye on your open and click rates, as well as your unsubscribes. This will help you determine the [right] frequency.”

“While sending more emails does not always translate to increased sales, under-mailing can also cause conversion rates to suffer,” says Sechrist. “Therefore, the best way to decide the optimal number of emails to send is through A/B tests. You may find that different segments prefer emails at a different frequency. In that case, you can tailor your send volume for each segment accordingly. Another best practice to consider is giving your subscribers an option to pick [how often] they would like to hear from you.”

[ Related: 14 digital marketing mistakes and how to avoid them ]

Mistake No. 11: Having a bad (or no) email sign-up page and/or unsubscribe process.

“So many businesses (small and large) don't have an email sign-up page or collection method,” says Jenn Barber, founder, Jenn Barber Marketing. “The people on their ‘list’ come from the Contact Us form or from business cards collected from events. This is so bad. As soon as companies decide to start emailing people, they need to have a collection method – [and] it needs to clearly communicate expectations [and your privacy policy] to the people signing up. There [also] needs to be a way for people to unsubscribe.”

“If your email does not have a clear unsubscribe link, the subscriber may mark the email as spam instead of simply unsubscribing,” says Alice Williams, communications specialist, Frontier Business Edge. “This can negatively affect [your] reputation.”

Mistake No. 12: Emailing people who have not given you permission to do so. 

“The last thing you want to do as an email marketer is violate email sending practices that might wind you up on the SPAM list or, more seriously, [in trouble] with the law, specifically Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and EU Privacy laws,” says Musto. So before you send out your next email campaign, “make sure your marketing team is aware of [any] laws they need to abide by, to ensure your company doesn't fall victim to this email fail.”

Mistake No.13: Not tracking results – or email ROI.

“Tracking campaign performance through metrics like open rates and click-through rates can help you tweak, refine and improve your [email marketing],” says Mychelle Mollot, CMO, Klipfolio. “The more opens and clicks, the more that specific campaign and content resonated with your subscribers.”

Similarly, “you need to make sure your efforts are paying off—with new leads, new customers and, ultimately, an increase in revenue for your business,” she says. “The most important email marketing metric to track is your email ROI, something that many smaller businesses neglect doing. To track ROI, look at how many conversions have been generated as a result of email marketing campaigns. These conversions may happen on online, in-store or directly through email. Monitoring email ROI will help you determine overall success and help you continuously improve campaign performance.”

Mistake No. 14: Poor email list hygiene.

“Like brushing your teeth, email list hygiene comes down to cleaning and maintaining everything that goes into your database,” explains Madden. “While this takes time and attention, it’s still an important and necessary step for smaller businesses. With the proper hygiene practices in place, you can clean up your database over time to maintain a healthy email list, which means better results.”

Madden’s tips for properly maintaining email lists:

  • Weed out soft-bounced emails.
  • Remove emails not associated with a person (@info, etc). 
  • Run a re-engagement campaign to target users who haven’t been active in six months or more to determine who still wants to hear from you.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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