8 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid (and what to do instead)

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I’m sure by now you know the immense benefits of email marketing to the growth of your business. Despite the hype around social media, email marketing remains an effective way to communicate with potential and current customers. More reason why business owners are taking an interest in it. Email marketing is the number one way businesses are reaching more people than ever.

Yet, business owners fail to develop proper email marketing campaigns. They either end up in the spam folder or send bulk messages to subscribers. Other times the content isn’t relevant.

Read our blog on why email marketing is still important.

It is one thing to know about email marketing, it’s another to do it right. Setting up a campaign, sharing great content and sending out regular emails is good. But if you aren’t doing it the right way, if you aren’t paying attention to the elements of effective email marketing, your effort might result in nothing. From spelling mistakes to bad subject lines and poor segmentation, things can go wrong.

In this blog, I will touch on 8 email marketing mistakes to avoid and what to do instead. By avoiding these common mistakes, your business can realize significant improvements in return.


Mistake #1: Not focusing on content

Email marketing is often done without regard for the quality or relevance of the content. It’s not about sending newsletters and updates to your subscribers. Rather, it’s about the value you provide for them. Remember, the only reason your email gets opened is that readers feel it’s valuable.

Including relevant content to your email campaigns that tell your brand’s story and is of interest to your subscribers is important. When people give out their email address, they have certain expectations about what to receive and how it would benefit them.

Reducing these mistakes can help you turn emails into sales. If you’re able to engage your readers with the right information, they’re more likely to open your emails.

What you should do instead? Don’t send out an email unless it’s relevant. Sending a one-size-fits-all content to your email list wouldn’t help. Create an email newsletter rich in value-add content. It can include news, testimonials, tips and more. By delivering more value, you build and expand your relationships with customers.


Mistake #2: Sending without permission

One thing you must keep in mind is that emails are private. People like their privacy so you must first get permission to their inbox. Email marketing is effective because it’s ‘permission-based’. Sending emails with the reader’s permission prevents your emails treated as spam. And it’s a great way to build willing subscribers.

What you should do? Create an opt-in list. This contains the addresses of those who have agreed to receive your emails at a set time. Send your emails to those on your list. Sending out random emails increases your chance of high bounce rate and a lot of spam complaints. But keep in mind that customers only subscribe to what they’ll benefit. If your offer isn’t of benefit to them, they won’t subscribe.


Mistake #3: Not segmenting your lists

Marketing is much more effective when the message is targeted.

A big mistake you can make when sending out emails is thinking all your subscribers are alike. It’s tempting to design intriguing articles and promotions backed with your valuable content and send to your entire email list. Segmentation refers to the process of dividing your list into segments. This helps to target the content to their specific needs, preferences, concerns, locations and the buyer’s journey.

The behavioural pattern of subscribers differ. For example, a middle-aged lower income subscriber in the rural area will behave differently from a young high-income subscriber in the urban area. One subscriber might be so intrigued about your brand that they want everything – updates, news, offers, discounts, blogs and all. While another may not. So you see, different subscriber and how they behave.

Not all prospects or customers are equal. Thus, don’t treat them as if they are. While it might be difficult to personalize every email, your subscribers want to receive relevant content based on their interest or buyer stage. A top prospect’s email will be different from someone who recently subscribed.

Segmenting your email list lets you personalize your emails and stay connected to your audience. Always keep in mind that information relevant to one reader might not be relevant to the other. Without proper audience segmentation, it’s hard to measure the relevancy of your emails.

What you should do? When building an email list, it’s important you segment your list. Gather information from subscribers such as gender, age, marital status, profession, location and interests. Don’t pay attention to demographics only; pay close attention to behavioural habits such as how they buy. Group your audience based on similarity.

Once your segmented list is ready, you can start sending relevant and valuable content using your email marketing software to each group at the right time.


Mistake #4: Failing to optimize for mobile



54 per cent of emails are opened on a mobile device.

A lot of consumers use their mobile devices to open their email. As a Ghanaian business owner, it’s important you consider mobile optimization when emailing customers. If your email doesn’t display well on mobile, 3 out of 4 people will delete in seconds. If it isn’t optimized for mobile devices, people will not read it. As a business owner, it’s important you leverage this since 64 per cent of decision-makers read their emails on their smartphones.

What you should do? Always test your emails on a mobile device. If emails aren’t mobile optimized, it can cause harm to your campaigns. This is because users will delete a message if they cannot view it. Keep it simple; don’t cram your email with complicated designs. Make it responsive and compatible with mobile devices.


Mistake #5: Boring subject lines

In a world of email, your subject line is your first impression.

How often do you sift through your inbox before deciding on which email to open and read? And which ones to delete? Now, what informs your decision? Why do some emails get open and the rest trashed? These decisions are usually based on the subject lines which you see at first glance.

Your subject line is one of the most important aspects of your email. If your subject lines aren’t catchy enough, your emails might not get open. Remember, your reader’s inbox is constantly flooded with emails – personal, professional and promotional on a daily basis.

About 50 per cent of consumers agree that subject lines are what compels them to open an email.


What you should do? Write subject lines that appeal to the reader. Keep it short, descriptive and promising. Check out these 8 email subject line formulas for success. Again, what works for one reader might not work for all your readers. Try new things to see what works for your email subscribers. Measure your open rate success and do more of what works for you. Keep it casual, conversational, creative and personal.

Also, avoid the mistake of writing subject lines that look like a sales pitch. This is because your email can end up in the spam folder or might scare readers away.


Mistake #6: Failing to personalize your emails

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language” – Dale Carnegie

How do you feel when someone addresses you by your name? You feel some sort of personal connection, right? The same applies to send emails. Yes, subscribers want valuable content, but, they also want to feel connected to you. Adding their name in the subject line is great. It increases engagement.


For example, imagine getting an email that goes like this:

Hey there,

Would you still be interested in attending our programme? If you are, kindly confirm the date and time below.

Most of the time we get emails that start with ‘hey’, ‘hello’, ‘hi’. This can put the reader off immediately. It’s easy to pay attention to someone that calls you by name than someone that simply says, “Hey there.”



What you should do? Use segmented email lists to create a personalized and targeted email campaign. You want to properly address your audience; get their names right. Don’t make readers assume you’re disinterested in them by spelling their names wrong or addressing them improperly.

Personalised emails get more opens and clicks. And that means more business for you!

What you should do? Use segmented email lists to create a personalized and targeted email campaign.


Mistake #7: Sending emails inconsistently

While sending too many emails can be bad for your business, you don’t also want to send a few emails. If you are not consistent with your emails, your subscribers might forget about you. As with any digital marketing activity, consistency is key. If you want your email marketing efforts to be successful, you need to remain consistent. If you send out emails once a week or the first day of every month, readers should always expect to see your email during that period. There shouldn’t be a case where your email comes in at a later period. If that continues to happen, readers will lose interest in your service/product.

Some consequences of an inconsistent email include:

  • Poor or inconsistent sender reputation
  • Higher complaint rate
  • Lower lifetime value
  • Difficulties keeping your subscriber list clean
  • Lost revenue
  • Increased risk of triggering spam traps

What you should do? Customers want to feel like they’re “top-of-mind”. How do you build a close relationship with them if you connect once in a while?  In some cases, email marketers can get carried away by sending too many emails such that readers don’t know when to expect content from you. Have a fixed date and time for your newsletters. If not, your readers will check their email expecting to see your newsletters and get disappointed when they find none.

Mistake #8: Having no clear call-to-action

Every email sent must have a clear call-to-action. What do you want readers to do? What action should they take? Do you want them to subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for an event and make a call or book a seat? A call-to-action like “Download” isn’t good enough. What do you want them to download? And why should they download it? All emails sent should have a purpose and a clear benefit for your reader.

What you should do? Keep your calls-to-action simple and visible. Point out what action you like readers to take and how it will benefit them. You stand the chance of losing them if you keep them guessing what to do next.

Call-to-action tips:

  • make it actionable
  • make your button text legible
  • keep it short
  • create urgency
  • use bright colours
  • add white space

In conclusion, email marketing is essential to growing your business. It can be hard in the beginning, especially if you aren’t seeing results. But I hope these tips will help turn your email marketing into a valuable and successful marketing campaign.

What are some of the mistakes you’ve experienced when sending emails?

If you have further questions, we’re happy to help you. You can also download our Ebook to get the most of email marketing.


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