13 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid for the Best Results

13 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid for the Best Results

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most commonly used marketing techniques that almost all businesses use. And yet, there are so many email marketing mistakes that sometimes even experienced marketers make them.

These email marketing mistakes can adversely affect the effectiveness of your email campaign and your ROI. So, it is better to be aware of the common email marketing mistakes to ensure that you don’t make them while running your email campaigns.

Here are 13 of the most common email marketing mistakes that you should avoid making.

1. Not Tracking Your Email Marketing Performance

This is an email marketing mistake that you simply can’t afford to make. No matter how brilliant your email marketing campaign is, you can never truly assess its actual impact unless you track the KPIs.

For every email marketing campaign, you must have clearly defined goals and a set of KPIs that you can use to measure your performance against those goals. This will help you determine the actual ROI and impact of your campaign.

Moreover, this will also provide insights into areas for improvement and identify the things that do or do not work for your subscribers.

One simple way of tracking your email marketing performance is by using unique tracking links that you can place within your emails. You can generate such links using UTM.io. Tracking links can provide you with valuable information like the number of visitors to your website that got there by clicking on the link within a particular email.

Not Tracking Your Email Marketing Performance

You can also use an all-in-one email marketing management tool, like MailChimp, which has a built-in analytics feature as well. It can also provide you with metrics like click rates and open rates that help you measure the performance of your emails.

Measuring your performance helps you identify aspects of your campaign that did well and the ones that didn’t. These insights can help fuel your future email marketing strategy and help improve your emails’ effectiveness.

Not tracking performance is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes that you can make. So, use these tools to track your email campaigns and avoid this mistake.

2. Using Non-Optimized Subject Lines for Email Marketing

The subject lines of emails are the first thing a person sees. And they are often what determines whether someone will open the email or not. So, it is safe to say that subject lines are one of the most important aspects of email marketing and they can make or break your campaign.

Not optimizing your subject lines is the biggest mistake that you can make because this could drastically affect your open rates. So, you need to write subject lines that get high open rates.

Here are some ways you can optimize your email subject lines:

  • Create a sense of urgency in your subject lines to get more clicks.
  • Keep your subject lines short, yet informative. Less than 50 characters is optimal for mobile devices.
  • Write subject lines that generate curiosity and makes readers want to know more.
  • If you have any offers or promotions, mention them in the subject line.
  • Use strong action words in your subject lines.
  • Create scarcity by telling people that your offer is available only in a limited quantity.
  • Make your subject lines localized and personalized.

These are just some of the best ways to write good email subject lines. You can also use a subject line testing tool like Send Check It to see how good your subject lines are. This tool evaluates your subject lines on standard parameters and scores them. The higher the score, the higher the probability of getting a good email open rate with that subject line.

3. Sending Generalized Email Bursts

Another email marketing mistake that a lot of marketers make is not personalizing their emails and sending out generic emails to everyone on their email list.

Imagine you get an email without any salutation or worse, something along the lines of, “Dear Subscriber.” Would you open it?

For most, the answer will be no. People do not like to open emails that are not directly addressed to them. So, it is crucial that you at least add the name of each person that you’re sending the emails to.

And, if you can add more elements of personalization, your emails will be even more effective. One way you can do this is to segment your customers according to their interests or demographics and personalize emails for each segment. You can take it one step further by creating customer personas and sending personalized emails to each type of persona.

Personalization can be a difficult task for larger businesses that send thousands of emails each day. However, there are email management tools that can help you send personalized emails at scale.

4. Not Having a Clear CTA

This is an amateur email marketing mistake that people often make. You can create the best emails with catchy subject lines, but you still won’t get any benefits if you can’t get people to take any desired action.

If people simply read your email and like it and then close it and move on, there is no quantifiable benefit that you derive as a business. For that, you need to add calls-to-action and encourage readers to go to a different page, avail an offer, or perform any other action that you want them to perform.

Not Having a Clear CTA

Also, your CTAs should be correctly placed and clearly visible in your emails. They should stand out so that people can easily click on these.

Check out the email below, for example. The main CTA is in the form of a big Orange button that no one can miss. And there’s another CTA right at the end of the email that creates a sense of urgency.

Also, make your CTAs attention-grabbing and good enough to make people want to click on it.

Here are some tips to write CTAs that actually work:

  • Use strong action words that compel people to take action.
  • Generate curiosity by asking a question or stating a surprising fact.
  • Create an illusion of choice by providing a two positive CTAs, so no matter which one the readers click on, it’s still beneficial for you.
  • Evoke positive emotions by using CTAs like “say hello,” “drop in and meet us,” or something that does not even look like a CTA.
  • Alleviate any major consumer concern that stops them from buying your product, right in the CTA itself. It could be something on the lines of “no credit card required” or “cancel anytime.”
  • Offer a free trial or highlight a promotion or offer.

5. Adding Too Many CTAs

While it is important to add clear and noticeable CTAs to your emails, you shouldn’t overdo it. Adding too many CTAs will confuse the reader and make it harder for them to decide which one to click.

Moreover, an email with too many CTAs looks spammy and promotional, which people usually don’t like. So, avoid using more than 2-3 CTAs in your emails as that can be counterproductive.

6. Sending Irrelevant Overly Promotional Emails

This is another grave email marketing mistake that marketers often make. They focus too much on creating an email that converts and adding CTAs and images but forget the most basic thing—relevance.

The first and most important thing that you need to ensure while creating an email is that it should be useful and relevant for the receiver. No one opens unsolicited emails that are not even relevant for them.

If you expect someone to spend their time reading your email and take action, at least make it worth their while. Provide them with some sort of value that encourages them to open the email and read it.

Don’t think of emails as only a means of promoting your brand, but think of them as a way to provide value to customers and keep in touch with them.

7. Not Optimizing Your Email Marketing Campaign for Mobile

These days, a lot of people check their emails from their mobile devices, on the go. They don’t wait to reach home or the office and open their desktops to read their emails.

So, not optimizing your emails for mobile devices is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes that you can make. And, by doing so, you miss out on a huge opportunity as well.

Here are some ways in which you can optimize your emails for mobile:

  • Ensure that your subject lines do not exceed 50 characters in length.
  • Use a mobile-responsive email template.
  • Avoid writing long paragraphs and text-heavy emails.
  • Use CTA buttons instead of adding links with anchor text, as these might not be clearly visible.
  • Don’t use too many images and keep the image sizes small.

Use these tips and optimize your emails for mobile and avoid this big email marketing mistake.

8. Making it Difficult to Unsubscribe

This is another one of the most common email marketing mistakes that a lot of people make. And, this is probably one of the worst email marketing mistakes that you can make. After all, you can’t force people to read your emails and even if you do, it will never lead to conversions.

Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from an email service and couldn’t figure out how to do it? Annoying, isn’t it? Then how do you expect that to work for your subscribers?

There is no use of making the unsubscribe process difficult for your customers. It will not get them to read your emails, but only cause annoyance and will end up spoiling your brand image.

So, ensure that it does not take more than two steps for your email subscribers to unsubscribe. If someone finds your emails useless and spammy, then there’s no point forcing it on them.

9. Using Mailboxes or No-Reply Email Addresses

Whenever you send emails to your subscribers, always make sure that you send it from an address to which they can reply. This keeps the channel of communication open between you and your customers.

If you send emails from a “no-reply” email address then that gives the wrong message. It basically prevents people to be able to talk to you and closes the channel of communication.

Shutting down the line of communication with your customers is the biggest email marketing mistake that you can make. So, avoid using no-reply email addresses.

10. Writing Long, Text-Heavy Emails

This is a rookie email marketing mistake, which most experienced marketers know not to make. Still, it was worth a mention, just in case you forget about it while drafting your emails.

No one likes to go through long blocks of text, as it is boring and takes a lot of effort. If you want people to read your emails, keep them short and easy to read. Use images to further retain attention and make the email more engaging and easy to read. You can also use an online image editor to make it attractive.

You can also use bullet points, short sentences, images, etc. to make your emails much more interesting to read. Thus, they will be more effective in getting conversions.

11. Sending Too Many Emails

This is an obvious email marketing mistake that you all must be aware of. It spams the receiver’s inbox and is annoying. And, even if they are genuinely interested in your brand or promotions, they will lose interest if you keep bombarding them with emails.

So, if you want your email marketing to be effective, send less, strategically timed emails to the right people.

While there is no hard and fast rule as to how many emails are too many, sending more than one email a day is definitely crossing the line. In fact, unless you are in a business that can get away with sending daily updates, weekly emails are more than sufficient for most businesses.

Also, keep track of your unresponsive subscribers, because after a point, email service providers will start sending your emails to spam. So, avoid this email marketing mistake and send only a few, relevant emails that will actually work.

12. Not Using Automation and Other Time-Saving Tools

Email marketing is not an easy task, especially for large businesses that send out thousands of emails a day. For such businesses, it is not feasible to create and send emails manually, as that would be extremely time-consuming and inefficient.

Moreover, there’s a lot that goes into creating a successful email campaign. From selecting an email template to adding the right CTAs to sending the emails at the right times, there’s a lot to do.

And, a lot of these tasks can be done quickly and easily by using any one of the numerous email marketing tools available out there.

13. Not Sending Emails at the Right Moments in a Buyer’s Journey

How long after a customer signs up for your newsletter or makes a purchase should you send a welcome or thank you email?

Well, the answer is immediately after and if you’re not doing that then you are making a big email marketing mistake.

There are several such strategic moments in a buyer’s journey when sending a prompt email with the right messaging could do wonders for your business. Not sending emails at these critical moments is a big email marketing mistake that you can’t afford to make.

Here are some of the different types of emails, sent at specific times in a buyer’s journey, that you should start sending if you don’t already do so.

Thank You or Welcome Email

Every time someone subscribes to your emails or makes a purchase or joins your rewards program, you need to send a “thanks for subscribing” or “welcome” email. This shows your appreciation for the positive action that they took and helps build a good relationship with the person.

You can also use this opportunity to explain what other benefits they get, like in the example below.

Thank You or Welcome Email

Abandoned Cart Email

This email is sent to customers who added products to their cart but did not complete the purchase. And, it should be sent as soon as a consumer leaves the website without making a purchase.

You can show the products they added to their cart and encourage them to complete the purchase. You can also provide an incentive like a discount, to convince them to complete their purchase. Or, you can simply ask what’s stopping them from making the purchase and if you can help them.

Here’s an example of a cart abandonment email:

Abandoned Cart Email

Exclusive Offer Emails

These emails can be sent to existing customers who have not made a purchase in a while. You may be able to get those customers back by giving them exclusive offers and discounts. You can set a specific time duration after the last purchase when this email will be sent to a customer.


There are a lot of email marketing mistakes that marketers make and don’t even realize that they’re making a mistake. These are some of the most common email marketing mistakes that you should avoid at any cost.

Use this as a reference guide every time you start an email marketing campaign to ensure that you don’t make these email marketing mistakes.

Dan McGaw

Dan McGaw is an award-winning entrepreneur and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of McGaw.io, a marketing technology and analytics agency, and the creator of UTM.io, a campaign management and data governance tool. Named one of the godfathers of the marketing technology stack and one of original growth hackers, Dan has decades of experience in digital marketing, technology, and analytics. (His team won’t let him take this out even though he says it makes him sound old.)

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