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Mission Control / Digital Marketing

6 Email Marketing Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them

Email is an integral and effective part of any marketing strategy, but it isn’t without its pitfalls. Learn how to avoid these common email marketing mistakes in your next campaign.

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By Tina Kelly

Even as our online world continues to evolve, email marketing remains an efficient workhorse. It can engage an audience, develop a readership and lead to sales without breaking the bank. In fact, a 2019 study by the Direct Marketing Association found that for every $1 spent, email has an average of about $52 return on investment.

But launching a new email campaign — or maintaining your evergreen email communications — takes time and money, and a few mistakes along the way can rob you of your ROI. We break down six of the most common email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Not Testing Subject Lines

The best way to know what resonates with your subscribers is to test various aspects of your emails, including the subject line. Does a question lead to more opens? Do emojis impact your rates? Draft two or three subject lines that differ slightly and set them up in an A/B testing campaign to see what users respond to.

2. Using the Same Subject Line for Reccurring Emails

If you’re sending weekly or monthly newsletters, repeating the same subject line each time will train subscribers to overlook your emails. While a certain subject line may have worked well the first time, repeated use of the same subject line decreases open rates over time. After all, if the subject line seems familiar, your recipients will probably assume they’ve read the email already and delete it. Instead, aim to highlight the most compelling piece of content in the subject line.

3. Not Connecting with New Subscribers

Engaging with subscribers as soon as they opt in can keep them engaged, improve retention and cultivate lasting relationships. When creating an automated welcome message (or welcome series), don’t overthink it — simply welcome your new subscribers, introduce yourself and tell them the kinds of content they can expect from your emails going forward.

4. Neglecting to Clean Up Your Lists

While automation can do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to sending emails, you’ll still want to cull your lists at least once a year to improve engagement. To start, identify whether a subscriber is inactive or simply disengaged. The former could mean you’ll need to remove them, while the latter might mean you still have a chance to win them over. A reengagement campaign can help refresh interest with disengaged subscribers.

Once you’ve identified your disengaged subscribers, place them in a separate list, filter for common themes and identify a strategy to pique their interest. That could mean a discount code or a personalized subject line. If after you’ve executed your reengagement campaign you find they’re still not interacting, then you can mark the subscriber as inactive.

5. Managing Your Email Campaigns in a Silo

Rather than expecting users to find your website and sign up for your emails all on their own, aim to meet your target audience where they are. If you don’t have a substantial email list (or you’d just like to see it increase), but you’ve got an engaged social media following, tap into that resource and share your signup form on your social channels. Facebook lead generation ads can be an effective way to increase email subscribers.

To grow an existing list, make your emails easy to share — well-designed emails full of compelling content are more likely to be forwarded to friends — or consider building a landing page that gives users a clear call to action (signing up for your email!) and explains the type of content they can expect to receive.

6. Not Maximizing Your First-Party Data

First-party data is extremely valuable and will become even more so in 2023 when Google Chrome removes cookies. If you aren’t using your email subscribers in your digital ads by creating custom and lookalike audiences you’re missing a huge opportunity to maximize this data to reach your subscribers and audiences similar to your subscribers.

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Tina Kelly
Tina Kelly Chief Marketing Officer

Tina brings more than 10 years of experience to C/A, where she partners with companies to develop digital marketing campaigns that leverage content, encouraging audiences to consume, engage, share and convert. Tina’s experience spans industries, having led digital marketing strategy development and execution for several global and national brands, including The Children’s Place, Nationwide Insurance, Delta Faucet and many more.

Tina has presented at a number of industry conferences and events, including SXSW Interactive and Content Marketing World. Outside of work, Tina and her husband can usually be found on a sports field somewhere, cheering on their two kids.

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