Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes


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How many times have you unsubscribed from an email list? How many emails do you get every day that you just don’t read? The web is full of bad email marketing. In fact, it’s almost rare to see email marketing that’s truly impressive.

When done right, email marketing can help you build a relationship with your clients, create trust, make repeat sales and build a powerful following. Unfortunately, marketers often make many mistakes that end up costing them dearly.

These are ten of the most common email marketing mistakes people make. These mistakes can sow distrust, stop people from reading and damage both your brand and your sales.


Mistake #1: Not Sending Great Content

This mistake is so basic yet so common. People just don’t put enough time, energy and attention into sending truly top notch email content.

Your content needs to be fantastic, right from the very beginning. When someone receives your first autoresponder message, they should think to themselves: “Wow, I just learned something new!”

They should walk away with that impression every time they open an email from you.

Writing and creating great content takes time. Putting in that time is what will set you apart and provide that wow factor.


Mistake #2: Over Selling and Over Promoting

Another common mistake is selling too much. Many marketers start blasting sales messages right out of the gate, before they’ve built any real goodwill or trust with their readers.

The ideal content to sales ratio will vary depending on your list, but do spend a good chunk of your time nurturing your list and building your list. Even when you’re selling, keep your audience in mind and add value to your product promotions.

Your first few messages should be especially heavy on content. This is when your audience forms their impression of you. This is when they form habits around whether or not they open your emails. Build trust early by giving good content, not by hammering them with sales messages.


Mistake #3: Not Mailing on a Semi-Regular Schedule

If you mail 3 times this week, once the next week, 5 times the next and then don’t mail at all for two weeks, you’re going to confuse your audience. While you don’t have to stick with a rigid schedule, there should be some predictability, so your readers can look forward to your emails and know what to expect.

It’s not the frequency of the messages that counts. It’s the consistency. If you’re going to send one email every Friday, great. If you’re going to mail every other day, great. If you really want, you can even mail every single day.

All of these frequencies work, as long as your audience knows what to expect. Let people know upfront how often you’ll be mailing them, then stick to that frequency. Sticking to a pre-set publication schedule allows people to look forward to receiving your emails.


Mistake #4: Not Split Testing Your Autoresponder Series

Your autoresponder series is a pivotal part of your conversion cycle. In fact, it plays an even bigger role than your salesletter. A good salesletter might increase conversions by 0.5% or 1% – But a great autoresponder series can increase conversions by 3% or more!

Don’t just write one autoresponder series and hope you nailed it on your first try. Split test it.

Try different mailing frequencies. Try different combinations of sales content and useful content. Try different tones and try different messages. Split test as many different autoresponder series as you can.


Mistake #5: Not Separating Out Buyer Lists

Once someone actually pulls out their credit card and hands you money, they put themselves in a different category than the rest of your list. You should treat your past customers very differently from everyone else.

Statistically, it’s seven times easier to sell someone who has already bought something. Once someone puts themselves on your buyer list, the way you market to them should change. More specifically:

1)     You should avoid hammering them with low value messages.

2)     Avoid using flashy subject lines for non-sales messages.

3)     Sell them higher ticket items.

4)     Stop trying to sell them products they’ve already bought.

5)     Assume they already like you, instead of writing to prove yourself.

Once your reader becomes a customer, you need to start treating them like a customer. Remove your buyers from the lead gen list and put them in a different list.


Mistake #6: Making Unsubstantiated Claims

Are you telling them they can make $10,000 a month in 30 days? Or that they can have six pack abs in six weeks? Making claims and promises is great, but you must be able to prove and substantiate your claims.

People are tired of being over promised to and lied to. By and large, customers would rather hear a believable claim – Even if it’s smaller – Than a huge claim with no proof to back it up. If you make large unsubstantiated claims, you’ll damage your reputation and reduce the trust you have between you and your readers.

Always try to prove what you’re saying. Before you come out with a claim, look at your proof and try to objectively determine if you have enough proof to make that claim. Never make a claim that’s bigger than you can prove.


Mistake #7: Promoting Products That Aren’t Relevant

It doesn’t matter if the product creator is your good friend, or if they’ll mail their list in return for you. Promoting products that don’t directly contribute to your readers’ lives is highly detrimental to your list.

When customers see you promoting products that aren’t relevant to them, they’ll think two things:

1)     You’re just trying to make a sale. They feel used rather than taken care of.

2)     They don’t feel understood. They’ll think that if you knew what they wanted, you wouldn’t have sent the email.

This leads to fewer people opening your emails and fewer people buying.

There are plenty of relevant products out there that you can promote. Don’t promote the ones that don’t make sense for your market.


Mistake #8: No Flow Between Emails

It’s okay to send individual emails. Most of the time, that’s what you’ll be doing. However, if you’re not also leveraging the power of email flow, you’re missing out on a lot of potential sales.

Using cohesive and sequential email campaigns allows you to really amplify your message and get people to listen. One great example of this is a product launch.

When you’re launching a new product, you might send a series of 5 to 8 emails. The first email might describe the problem in detail, while giving value. The second might give potential solutions. The third might hint at a product, while the fourth and fifth get people excited about buying when it comes out.

You keep giving valuable content while getting people excited about the product. By the time the product hits the market, you have a flood of buyers ready to give you their money.

This could never happen with a single email. You can use this kind of strategy for launching products, for making affiliate sales, for launching contests, for launching forums or just to go in depth into a specific topic.

Single emails might be your most common type of mailing, but don’t neglect the power of sequential campaigns.


Mistake #9: Using HTML Emails for Response Based Marketing

If you’re sending out HTML emails for your response based marketing, there’s a good chance you’ll get tripped up by technology.

First of all, your headlines and graphics might not display properly. Different email clients display images and HTML differently. Gmail, the most popular web client in the world, doesn’t display images by default. If your headline is a graphic, it instantly loses all its power.

Most response based marketers choose to use plain text emails instead. If you sign up to the mailing lists of any of the big marketing “gurus,” you’ll find that they almost always just send text emails. It’s not that they can’t afford a designer, it’s that text emails just plain work.

If you care more about response than branding, use plain text emails. HTML emails carry a large risk of not being displayed properly.


Mistake #10: Your Subject Lines Aren’t Catching Attention

Finally, if your subject lines aren’t catching attention, then none of it really matters. People won’t open your emails and all your messages will just get lost in the crowd.

If you want to build a relationship with your list and make sales over and over again, you first have to get your emails opened. That’s where the attention catching subject lines come in.

Your subject lines should get people to turn heads. It should make people’s eyes widen and get them to drop all their other emails and click on yours. It should surprise and shock people. It should also hint at a benefit. People should get the sense that their life could be improved by clicking on your email.

If you have trouble coming up with email subject lines, just look through your own inbox for inspiration. What subject lines tend to catch your attention? How can you use the same principles to build your own subject lines?


These are ten of the most common email marketing mistakes. These mistakes can reduce your readership rate, get you spam complaints and seriously hurt your business in the long run. If you spot any of these mistakes in your business, fix them immediately. Fortunately, the internet is a forgiving place. Once you’ve fixed the mistake, your customers won’t hesitate to give you a second chance.

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