12 Common Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

March 13, 2023
Written by
SendGrid Team
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

12 Common Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Knowing how to leverage email marketing is essential to building strong relationships with your customers. From order confirmations to newsletters, 87% of marketers rely on email to increase customer engagement. Given that every dollar spent on email marketing generates an average return of $54, it’s no surprise that email marketing endures as a top channel for customer correspondence.

As your customers’ inboxes fill with communications from various companies, you’ll need to strengthen your email marketing skills to stand out and keep them engaged with the products and services you offer. You’ll also need to know the common pitfalls in email marketing to reach consumers in helpful ways while maintaining a favorable reputation of the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. 

Why professional email mistakes are common

While emails are easy to create and send, email marketing mistakes are equally easy to make. Often, companies seek quantity over quality, sending out emails that irritate the same people they want to win over. Too many small email marketing mistakes can add up, depressing engagement and frustrating marketing initiatives. 

However, identifying email mistakes isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. Thanks to email marketing tools that allow you to measure audience engagement, you can assess whether you’re making professional email mistakes and devise potential solutions if you are. 

Common email marketing mistakes to avoid 

Below are some common email mistakes to avoid. Consider whether these factors reduce customer engagement if your emails don’t get the attention or responses you desire.

1. Ignoring sender reputation

A poor sender reputation increases the chances that your emails will end up in customers’ spam folders. And your sending reputation will be worse if you suffer high bounce rates or if few customers open and engage with your emails. Fortunately, tools exist that enable you to check your sender reputation and take steps to improve it.

2. Overlooking regulations

Failing to abide by email laws is one of the most serious email marketing mistakes to avoid. The CAN-SPAM Act, for instance, establishes penalties for companies that fail to offer certain options to customers, such as the ability to unsubscribe, and requires that senders identify emails accurately, among other requirements. 

Email marketers need to ensure that their emails comply with these regulations to avoid fines that can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Compliance also has the added benefit of improving engagement: you’ll utilize best practices, and customers will appreciate it.

3. Using a no-reply ID

Using no-reply emails may seem like a natural decision to avoid receiving customer messages outside your preferred channels. You may, for instance, want to direct customers to a “Contact Us” page rather than allowing them to directly respond to the emails you send. 

This is a common email marketing mistake. No-reply emails will negatively impact your deliverability. And when customers can’t respond to emails, future emails from the same address are more likely to go to the spam folder. 

Additionally, no-reply emails alienate customers by making them feel that your brand isn’t interested in their feedback. Using an address that customers can reply to with their comments and questions is an easy and natural way of improving engagement. 

4. Designing unresponsive email 

It’s increasingly common for customers to open and read emails on devices besides a personal computer. To avoid these email mistakes, ensure that your emails are responsive and readable on phones and tablets. 

When crafting your message, you’ll also want to consider email accessibility to avoid email marketing mistakes. If one of your customers uses a screen reader, will your email sound good spoken aloud? Will a lack of alternate text and other key features make it difficult for customers to interact with your emails?  

Other simple adjustments, like increasing the font size, separating links, or including media queries to adapt your HTML emails to different devices, can also create a more user-friendly email experience. 

5. Skipping welcome emails

Welcome emails serve an essential purpose of establishing customer expectations for future email marketing. By sending a welcome email, you avoid one of the most common email marketing mistakes: making customers feel like they’re just numbers on a screen. Sending a welcome email shows you care and reminds customers why they chose to subscribe to your messages. 

6. Failing to segment your email list

List segmentation plays a crucial role in personalized email marketing. After all, not every email will be relevant to every customer, even if they all serve a purpose for some customers. Segmenting your email list allows you to deliver emails to the customers who are most likely to engage with the message. 

Your segmentation might be based on demographics, the kinds of purchases subscribers have made, or their more general interests. Regardless, segmenting your email list helps you avoid email marketing mistakes that result in high unsubscribe rates after customers receive emails irrelevant to their interests.

7. Overgeneralizing rather than personalizing 

As mentioned above, no one likes to feel like they’re just one address in a long list of subscribers. Crafting generic emails intended for any recipient is a common email marketing mistake to avoid. Fortunately, you can personalize your emails based on data gathered directly from customers. 

Personalization increases the likelihood of subscriber engagement with your emails: they’ll feel that your brand cares about them and wants to help them make useful purchases. And when your subscribers feel like they’re seen as people, their perception of your brand improves.

8. Sending emails without proofreading 

It may seem like an afterthought, but simple proofreading is an easy way to avoid email marketing mistakes. Sending emails with spelling, grammatical, and factual errors may lead inbox providers to mark your emails as spam. You’ll also want to be sure all the links work properly and direct audiences to relevant landing pages. Otherwise, you may turn off subscribers by what seems like a lack of professionalism. 

Spending a few minutes proofreading your emails before sending them out can help you sidestep this issue. Better yet, have a colleague take a look at your writing to see if there’s anything you missed. Establishing an editing process is easy to do and helps you deliver on consumer expectations of diligence and attention to detail. 

9. Using generic subject lines

An email without a gripping subject line is unlikely to draw customers’ eyes. That’s why the best email subject lines are concise, descriptive, and urgent. And while accomplishing all that in only 60 characters might seem daunting, it’s worth the effort to take time to craft a unique, attention-grabbing subject line to improve your customer engagement and avoid a common email marketing mistake.

10. Running A/B testing after the fact

A/B testing is crucial to avoid email marketing mistakes. First, devise multiple options for the various components of your email communications, including the “from” address, subject line, content, and design. Then, send these variations to a representative sample of your subscribers and track the resulting actions to assess what decisions will promote engagement most effectively.

11. Timing sending at improper times

Email marketers send their emails at many different times of day, but research shows that certain times are better than others for getting subscribers to open messages. Sending at an inopportune time—in the middle of the night, for instance—can reduce email visibility. 

Timing is another reason why segmentation matters. An email that arrives at the right time in New York may arrive at the wrong time in California if you send them simultaneously. Segmenting your audience across different time zones will allow you to optimize your sending time. 

12. Sending too many emails

This email marketing mistake is perhaps the most obvious, yet marketing professionals often default to it. The temptation to fill your marketing calendar with promotions and newsletters daily is strong. But email fatigue is real, and your subscribers might choose to opt out of communications altogether rather than receive too many communications each week. 

Instead, focus on quality over quantity, and keep your subscribers engaged with high-caliber content. Also, update your preferences center to make it easy for subscribers to adjust how many emails they receive and what types of emails they receive—or, as much as you want to avoid it, unsubscribe.

Avoid email marketing pitfalls with Twilio SendGrid 

Twilio SendGrid offers you all the tools you need to avoid common mistakes and optimize your email marketing strategy. With SendGrid email testing, you can ensure that your emails are high quality before sending them out. 

You can also avoid content that might trigger spam filters, monitor how your emails will render in various browsers and devices, and check for broken links or images. And when you need help to avoid common email marketing mistakes, SendGrid provides you with support.Email marketing is essential to keeping recipients interested in your business, but many marketers misstep. Here are some common email mistakes to avoid.

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