10 Common E-Mail Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

E-mail marketing can deliver a great return on your marketing investment. To ensure that you achieve the highest results, include testing in your e-mail strategy. Thoughtful preplanning can help you avoid costly errors that make your campaign less effective.

e-mail marketing checklist

Here are 10 common e-mail marketing mistakes, and the ways to prevent them.

1. Not testing the layout in multiple e-mail clients

From desktop, web-based, and mobile clients, users have a plethora of options on how to receive e-mail. Therefore it is critical to ensure that your e-mail works across multiple platforms.

Solution: Use testing applications, like E-mail on Acid, to render your e-mail in multiple clients at once. You’ll be able to identify your render inconsistencies quicker and easier.

2. Not proofreading your campaign materials

Quite often, the developer becomes too close to the content to see any glaring mistakes in the e-mail campaign.

Solution: Always have another set of eyes to review and proof the content.

3. Not having an easy-to-use, one-click opt-out process

In addition to SPAM compliance, always make sure you have an easy-to-use opt-out link. If the opt-out process is too cumbersome, users may mark your e-mail messages as SPAM, which could damage your ESP reputation.

Solution: The opt-out link must go to a single landing page. Also, you can only require the e-mail address question—all other questions must be optional on the opt-out form.

4. Sending e-mails too frequently OR not frequent enough

Sending e-mail broadcasts too frequently can lead to mass unsubscribes. But on the other side of the coin, sending them too infrequently will result in your customers lacking brand awareness.

Solution: When collecting e-mail addresses for your database, always inform customers about the frequency of your campaigns.  Offer a way for users to customize the frequency of marketing e-mails. Perhaps they just want a monthly “round-up” instead of the daily messages.

5. Too much content in one e-mail

Having too much content in a single e-mail can overwhelm or even bore the reader. Strive for short and sweet messaging.

Solution: Create a landing page for e-mail recipients to click on to get more information. With a landing page, you’ll have more flexibility to provide additional information.

6. Ignoring mobile

After skyrocketing in popularity in the last few years, opening e-mails on mobile devices is now more popular than web and desktop.

Solution:  If you are under time and budget constraints, focus your attention to mobile rendering first.

7. Not testing a data merge in e-mail

Having personalization in an e-mail makes your e-mail more relevant to the end-user. Personalization is a great way to increase click rates, increase online-sales, and increase customer-engagement. However, if executed poorly, this can have a negative impact. A user could see the variable names, such as “Hi Firstname,” or even worse—they could receive another user’s information in their e-mail.

Solution: Test, test, and test. Use a database with test information to send a broadcast first. Verify all merged content came through correctly before deploying the broadcast.

8. Including no alt-text

By default, most e-mail clients do not display images. Users must take an action to display the images in the e-mail message. Without alt-text, you are missing out on an opportunity to encourage users to take action.

Solution: Use appropriate alt-text for each image to encourage users to turn on the images.

9. Not using an effective preheader or none at all

preheader is like an extension of the subject line. It provides additional information as to what is in the e-mail. The preheader should be more than “If you are having trouble viewing this e-mail, click here”, it should describe the content of the e-mail. An example of a much more effective preheader is “See how Product XYZ can improve productivity by 50%”

Solution: Always include and test a preheader in your e-mail. Verify it is working during the testing process.

10. Not testing your subject lines

Technically, there is no limit on how long a subject line can be; however be aware of cut-off points. For example, if we were to use this blog post as a marketing e-mail, we should be aware that the entire title may not display in some e-mail clients. The Only Weapons We Make Are for Your Marketing Arsenal – the unfortunate cut-off point could be an embarrassing snafu. (Did you find it? Count 52 characters in.) Put the most important information at the beginning of the subject line. Mobile devices can display anywhere between 20 – 50 characters. Best practices show subject lines should be under 50 characters.

Solution: Make sure you test your subject lines in multiple e-mail clients.

The best advice I have to avoid these 10 common mistakes is to have a checklist each time you do an e-mail campaign. No matter how many times you have created a marketing e-mail, always go through the checklist. This could be as simple as a sheet of paper next to your computer, or it could be an official PDF form with checkboxes that a co-worker verifies. Use whatever works for you and your marketing team to avoid these common mistakes.  

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