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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 13 , 2020

Emails not getting the open rates you want? Here, we break down the most common marketing email mistakes and offer ways you can avoid them.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Common email mistakes you probably ignore
  • The impact these mistakes have on your business 
  • How to go about alleviating them
  • The benefits of adopting email as a core marketing strategy

Despite the growing popularity of trendy social media apps, optimized paid search campaigns, and multimedia content, email remains a dominating marketing strategy for companies of all sizes.

The reason can be found in the data. Global email users reached 319 billion in 2019, and the figure is expected to shoot to 4.3 billion people by 2021. Not only that, but 78% of marketers have reportedly seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. 

But that doesn’t mean this method of connecting with customers is without its obstacles. With inundated inboxes and millions of subscription options, marketers looking to stand out and get engagement have their work cut out for them. 

One way to stay on track is by not falling victim to the most common email mistakes. So, what are these mistakes, and how can you avoid them? Keep reading to find out. 

1. Not prioritizing mobile

HubSpot data shows that 61% of emails are opened on mobile, making smartphones the most common way people access their inbox. Plus, an average mobile user reportedly checks their email four times a day. For these reasons and more, it’s clear that having a mobile-friendly email design is an imperative.

When crafting a mobile-friendly email design, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check how emails render on mobile devices. If your sending platform doesn’t offer this as a preview option, you can send a test email to a colleague to get their feedback (ideally on both iOS and Android devices).
  • Avoid long sentences and blocks of text — text might appear short on a computer, but will often be two or three times longer on a mobile device.
  • Make sure the formatting is simple and clean, with ample white space and images no wider than 600 pixels.
email marketing mistakes to avoid

An effective CTA guides subscribers to take that next desired action once they’ve opened your message. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Failing to segment subscribers 

Personalization is key to standing out when it comes to marketing messages. It’s also likely that, depending on your industry, not all of your customers fall under the exact same demographics. That’s where segmentation comes in.

As marketers contend, segmenting subscribers comes with a load of potential benefits, including:

  • higher open rates
  • increased revenue
  • greater customer acquisition and retention
  • high deliverability
  • increased sales leads 

Segmenting your emails can help you engage many different parts of your audience. After all, if someone opens an email and feels like it’s not speaking to them, they’re more likely to hit “unsubscribe.” You can segment based on a variety of factors, from demographic and past behavior to the sales cycle stage in relation to your buyer’s journey.

3. Lacking a clear call to action (CTA)

An effective CTA guides subscribers to take that next desired action once they’ve opened your message. Do you want them to buy a product? Follow you on social media? Sign up for a webinar? 

Emails don’t always have to be about pushing an agenda — often, they’re more effective for relationship building, educating, and raising awareness. But a strong CTA can go a long way towards helping you achieve your clickthrough goals. 

When you’re brainstorming or crafting your next email CTA, it’s a good idea to:

  • Make sure it visually stands out 
  • Choose your copy wisely (keep it short and to the point)
  • Focus on the value for the reader
  • Test the link before sending it out

Pro tip: Marketing Land recently reported that staying on top of your data hygiene (that is, making sure your contact data is accurate and up to date) is as key as ever for email marketing, as open rates increased during the COVID outbreak. 

4. Over-designing and overcrowding emails

One of the most common email mistakes many marketers make is overstuffing their messages. This can look like many things, from too much copy or too many sections to a handful of disparate CTAs or links.

Of course, you want to provide significant value in each email you send out. But people’s time is limited, and they often want to skim for the info that best applies to them. Because of this, it’s better to keep things concise. 

We’ve mentioned before that creating a hierarchy of content in your emails is a good rule of thumb. This basically means you put the most important info first, the second-most-important info next, and so on. 

And if there’s too much info for you to pare down? Simply add teaser copy to the email and link to more fleshed-out content on your website where the reader can go if they want to know more.

avoid these email marketing mistakes

Building a relationship with current and potential clients is a prerequisite for achieving positive results in your email marketing efforts. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Using jargon and esoteric language

Making your emails reader-friendly isn’t just advisable for getting people to actually read through your message, but it’s a proven way to increase open rates. Again, we’re all short on time! A marketing email isn’t the place to try to be impressive through business jargon or “inside baseball” language.

Marketing is about relationships, and it’s much easier to relate to a business or its message when it sounds like it’s coming from a person, not a robot. Feel free to be playful and have fun with your verbiage — as long as you’re still speaking to your target audience properly and appropriately.

6. Selling too hard 

Let’s circle back to relationships. Building a relationship with current and potential clients is a prerequisite for achieving positive results in your email marketing efforts. Many marketers fail here by using their subscriber lists to immediately hard-sell a product or service. This approach often results in readers who are disengaged or disinterested in what you’re selling. 

To foster a relationship that could lead to a high conversion rate, focus instead on finding a balance between the value of your offerings and helpful content. How can you improve their lives while positioning yourself as an expert? In what ways do your products or services speak to a common pain point? How does this company news benefit them?

The takeaway 

Marketing success is a moving target, and what works one year or month may not work the next. Luckily, email marketing remains one of the most viable methods of connecting with your customers. 

The common email mistakes mentioned here can significantly undermine your efforts and, even worse, adversely affect your business in the long run. By following steps like segmenting subscribers, checking your language, and having mobile users in mind, you can feel confident that your email marketing is set up for solid open rates and high ROI.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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