By Steven Garland

There’s a reason why email marketing holds a special place in the savvy marketer’s toolbox. For a modern business, it’s often the most effective way to achieve conversions.

Social media marketing can be unreliable. Ads are expensive. But email is cheap — and when it works, it really works. An effective email marketing campaign is a great way to build a loyal customer base.

And that’s precisely why it’s so important to nail email marketing from the get-go. Here are some of the most popular mistakes to pay attention to, and how to fix them.

Mistake #1: Too many emails, too often

One of the worst things to do to your email marketing campaign is cramping in as many emails as possible. You might feel that more equals merrier. In reality, people receive too many emails already.

Eager to eat up their inbox space with new messages? You’re only making subscribers fall into a habit of ignoring your business. Besides, you probably don’t have that much news to share about your company in emails anyway.

Make your email marketing feel special instead. Send emails rarely but highlight new useful features, events, and specific promos. In most cases, once a week is more than enough.

The only thing worse than sending too many emails, too often? Being inconsistent. If you send five emails in a row, then stop for three months, then do it again, people will be quick to hit ‘unsubscribe’.

Mistake #2: Unappealing subject lines and generic opening sentences

Whether your email is going to be opened or not, often depends on the subject line. But some companies don’t pay any attention to it!

Instead, they go for something generic — like ‘New updates’ or ‘Best deal’. They lose on a great opportunity to drive engagement.

A subject line should be both informative and intriguing. Your subscribers want to be able to understand what’s your email’s about just from the subject line. But your job is to make them feel curious about its content. For example, instead of stating that the email is about a research you did, tell why it’s important.

Also, email marketers often waste their opening sentences on generic introductions. But it’s the worst way to start an email in the age when attention span is so limited. Why do you think that starting an email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will make me intrigued? There are better ways to start an email.

Instead, try to immediately offer value, state an important fact. Or maybe tell an unexpected joke. If you’re not able to achieve attention from the opening sentence to your email, there’s little chance people are going to finish it.

Mistake #3: Making it hard to unsubscribe

This one is best described with a personal story — the wound is still fresh.

Just a few days ago I decided to check out a newsletter of a popular entertainment website. Once I realized it’s a daily one (see Mistake #1!), I decided that it’s not for me. So I decided to unsubscribe.

Here’s what I encountered once I clicked the unsubscribe button:

  • Instead of unsubscribing, I was redirected to newsletter settings page;
  • I had to log in;
  • On the page, I had to scroll down to find the newsletter I subscribed to;
  • Once I unchecked it, I had to scroll back up and press ‘save’.

And here’s the kicker, if you haven’t guessed already. The new edition of that newsletter was waiting for me in my inbox the next day as if nothing happened.

So I flagged it as spam — and I don’t feel bad about it.

The moral of the story is simple. You might think that by making it hard to unsubscribe you’re retaining your subscriber base. In reality, you’ll do exactly the opposite. I liked that brand before. Now I can’t help myself but feel a bit betrayed.

Once users start to mark your emails as spam, that’s a shortcut to being flagged automatically. Which, of course, is a death sentence for deliverability rates.

Mistake #4: Neverending emails

Don’t overstay your welcome.

Research shows that the best length of a cold email is between 70 and 120 words. That doesn’t mean that you should make all your emails as short as possible. But it does highlight that people tend to pay attention to quick, simple messages first.

So take advantage of that. Cut the fat whenever possible. Instead of copying half of your new blog post to an email, focus on a single key most interesting idea from it. Send subscribers for the rest to your website.

Mistake #5: Not doing enough testing

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in plain text or you’re going all in on custom email templates. Always test it out, more than once, and on different platforms.

Why is it important? An email that looks stellar on a desktop Gmail interface might look like crap on mobile. Or maybe the Outlook app on Windows 10 can’t handle it. Did you think about different browsers?

There are tons of various devices, apps and form factors. There are tons of problems, like broken links and unoptimized previews. People won’t remember to take another look at your broken email when they’re at their laptop. They’ll simply delete it.

Of course, testing also helps you deal with mistakes and typos. You know, one of the most prominent reasons people name when it comes to unsubscribing.

Mistake #6: Buying email lists

Finally, don’t ever think about growing your subscribers base by buying scrapped email lists.

First things first: they are illegal. But perhaps more convincingly, they are just bad investment. Email addresses appear on such lists when nobody was able to get in touch with their owners.

Oh, and here’s the cherry on top. Sometimes these abandoned addresses are used as spam traps.


And here we go — those were the 6 typical mistakes of a marketing email. Your email marketing campaign will be much better if you don’t make any of these.

Why bother? Email marketing is on the rise and it won’t disappear any time soon. Fixing these typical mistakes gives you a much-needed edge in the battle for subscriber’s attention. Don’t ignore the basics!

Steven Garland is the Head of Content at LeadGibbon, a one-click tool for sales teams to find email addresses and other data for their leads. When he’s not busy with research for his latest article, Steve is binge-watching 80s horror movies or playing pick-up basketball with friends.

Email marketing stock photo by Fotonium/Shutterstock