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30 email marketing mistakes (+ how to avoid)

email marketing mistakes

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Good morning and thanks to those who watched the Inbox Mailers webinar. If you plan to watch the Super Bowl, who’s your pick?

Today’s feature looks at the litany of mistakes you can make with email marketing. Everything from subject line slip-ups to number of sends to epic blunders. I might have made a couple of these myself. (Hi FIRSTNAME ☺)

Let’s dig into these email marketing mistakes so we can learn from and eradicate them. I’ll include some of my mess-ups over the years.

Major Mistakes

Double-checking emails before sending takes time. Saves embarrassment though. 

😱Sending an email to the wrong segment is bad. To the wrong list? Holy Moly!

Most email marketers only have one list. Mega Mailers have to watch this one though.

😓Leaving notes-to-self at the bottom of email messages happens when you copy / paste into your ESP. (ex. “Proofread? Yes. Grammarly? Yes. What does this even mean? No clue.”😅)

Not happened to me, yet. But I’ve screwed up a footer or two in my day. 

😮Next→ Sending an unfinished email.🤣 Blank email, even worse. More hilarious too.

*Also, copywriters with too many clients could easily lose sight of audience specifics and use angles that don’t resonate. Writers can reduce client load by reducing bills by developing a healthy disdain for material things. Most ignored advice I possess.

Email Marketing Mistake on Frequency

💯Too many emails in one day can rile up subscribers. 

Use tags like “signed up today” to prevent sending more than one email the day a new subscriber joins your list.

They could receive your welcome email, newsletter, and special event invite all on day one.

🐬Flip side is not resending an email to those who didn’t open the original email. This tactic needs to be tested to see if you’re leaving opens on the table. 

Also, don’t be a rando newsletter sender. Pick a day and time. Tweak and optimize but choose a time then stick with it.

Email Mistakes with Links

Links cause writers more work.

  • Double-checking where links go
  • Inputting UTM tags
  • Checking link security
email marketing mistakes

But links are a must. More so in newsletters.

🔗More links, more chances of going to the wrong page. More broken links. 

⚓Anchor links help readers get to specific info fast, but are erratic (with UTM tags especially).

📞Links are harder to click on phones. A big mistake is not testing on a real phone (not desktop preview). Make links easier to click. Bigger buttons. Longer text links.

Email Marketing Spelling / Grammar Misteaks

Writers get grilled for errors. No one’s perfect though.

I spot spelling errors all the time on Forbes, MSNBC, and FOX. 

Reputable sites too.🤗

Grammarly and other tools help. 

But manual proofreading is a must. The only way is s-l-o-w-l-y.

Subject line spelling mistakes are worse than in the body. 

🥴The worst is misspelling the recipient’s name or company name. Unless you somehow misspell your own name or brand.

⚠Often, your ESP will jack up your words. Running two words together when bolded, for instance. Test-sends, people! Proofread emails in your inbox.

Email Marketing List Mistakes

🙅🏼‍♂️Buying a list is a no-no. 

Lots of fake addresses. Temporary ones too. 

You damage your sender rep with purchased lists. 

These folks don’t want your emails and won’t open them.

Low open rates are a giant reason for emails getting filtered into spam folders.

Use better customer targeting and better lead magnets so you get real sign-ups.

Don’t forget double opt-ins.

Even adding a few suspect names to a clean list can demolish your email marketing. Read more dirty facts about spam traps here.

From: Whoever

Email platform settings are boring and tedious, yeah?

Well, don’t overlook them when you get too comfortable with a program.

Double-check settings such as “from address.” 

Spam filters can catch a different address from the same domain.

If Jim-Bob has been the sender address, be consistent.

Automation Mistakes

email marketing mistakes

Automation is a marketer’s best friend.

Until major email marketing mistakes happen as a result. 

You can’t just turn anyone in the company loose with email automation.

⚠ A thorough understanding is needed so subscribers don’t unsubscribe when they get overwhelmed with a 7-email sequence two or three times!

I’ve yet to make an automation mistake → no one trusts me to touch those buttons.🚫

Email Mistakes with Unsubscribing

3 common unsubscribing mistakes.

  1. Hidden unsubscribe link
  2. No unsubscribe link
  3. Not offering email preferences alternative to unsubscribing

I would have never done or thought of this dingbat move. 

Name-calling on list segments? Unsubscribers can see the list name when unsubscribing. 

❌Another email marketing mistake with unsubscribing is no confirmation page assuring people they’re off your list.

Clipped Email Marketing Mistakes

📜Some emails are too heavy or too long so they get clipped by the inbox provider.

If your CTA is at the end, it won’t be seen by a high percentage of readers.

email marketing mistakes

Animated GIFs are cool but not if they drag your emails into a non-viewable hell. 

Gmail’s ‘weight limit’ is anything over 102kb. See further Litmus guidelines on heavy emails.

Another reason test-sends to your inbox are a must. Proofing inside the ESP is only step one.

I screwed up and did this a few years ago in a real estate newsletter. 

Subject Line – Top of Email Marketing Mistakes

Blunders in the subject line are hard to hide.

Such as:

  • An emoji that doesn’t display properly (I’ve done this)
  • Duplicate subject line from previous email – whoops!
  • Token (FIRSTNAME) malfunctions in subject line

Other mistakes include not A/B testing subject lines and not reusing top-performing ones. 

Email Campaign Checklist

Most email marketers have a checklist and check it thoroughly before sending a campaign to thousands and looking a-fool!

Doesn’t matter if it’s only ten or 100 readers.

I have like 14 tasks on my list. A few:

  • Check style guide
  • Feature link testing
  • Nap
  • Bold links
  • Test link security

It’s easy to get lackadaisical after sending email campaigns every day for months. Don’t ditch your checklist though.

Email Marketing Missteps Summed Up

One more mistake to watch for is font changes that make emails harder to read. Colors that blend into the background, for one. 

People don’t like to struggle with simple tasks like reading email. Not even a little.

Email mistakes are gonna happen. Roll with them when they do. 

Test and retest so they don’t. Read every email in your inbox before sending them and the mistakes won’t be frequent or cause you ulcers. 

Bonus: Not much info on testing email automations. So I dug up a couple how-to vids:

  1. Active Campaign users (22 mins)
  2. General email & SMS automation testing (32 mins)

Knowledge Base

Knowledge is power, but first, GOAT Super Bowl ad motivation. 

What can you digitize / monetize to boost revenue? 42 ideas – ex. workbooks, fonts, 3D models.

‘Abandoned browse’ emails + 6 more email templates.

Lend Litmus your brilliant marketing mind for a few mins. (2023 State of Email Survey).

Which of these email trends do you agree will happen?

Send emails when people are in their inbox
Sponsored by Inbox Mailers

Imagine you pop open Gmail, and you have a long list of emails to go through. Classic.

A few seconds later, a new email pops into your inbox. Exciting.

You’re probably way more likely to immediately open it rather than the long list of stale emails.

Inbox Mailers does just that. Rather than send an email blast to your entire list at once, you can send triggered emails when your subscriber is actually in their inbox.

This strategy can lead to open rates of 50% – 70% and improve overall deliverability. And, with better deliverability, you’ll see a higher sender score, better inbox placement rates, and an increase in your overall email metrics. Book a demo.

Self Help 

Interesting post from Mr. Godin.

“Once you’ve made something worth photographing, having the idea captured and spread helps you, it doesn’t hurt.” ~ (Florist he visited didn’t allow photos)

I agree, it can’t hurt. But what are the odds it helps your idea or brand spread? Less than 1% I’d bet.

Seth feels this way because his ideas did spread. Like wildfire.

How many people just as sharp as him didn’t have similar success? 

Most of them. They just aren’t around to blog about it.

Maybe today, in some cases, it’s best to keep things under wraps. 

What’s more unique? A million flower arrangements on Instagram? Or the one you can only see in person at a tiny shop in Queens?

*Shout-out to Inbox Hacking Subscribers → 

🚛 Alex at Ascent (logistics)

🥻 Angelo at Harlow (women’s fashion)

Facts and Stats

  • Editors are leaning into these content types → Videos 76.7%, Podcasts 62.8%, Newsletters 60.5%
  • Online sales up for Event Tickets +75% / Digital Content +60%
  • 38.4% of all digital commerce, Q4 2022 was on mobile

Inbox Mailers Quote Circa Today“Used to be the best Super Bowl ads required perfect comedic timing. Now we just try not to offend anyone.”

~ John “On-Brand-n-Bland” Smith (Snoritos Ad Exec)

Use this engagement trigger to 3x your open rates

There’s a new technology that enables you to send more engagement triggers to your list. This creates a virtuous cycle that boosts your reputation, deliverability, sender scores, and IP health — all at once! Brands leveraging this tech are tripling, and sometimes even quintupling their open rate.

Free demo shows you how it’s done.

Marketing Musings


Only for the little guy, gal, or brand, right?


Just because an organization is printing money already doesn’t mean they can’t Xerox that success with a niche that’s being ignored.

Giant Example: Walmart should have pajama displays at every entrance. Cater to those too lazy to dress for public outings. Don’t make ‘em walk 120 steps to the Sleepwear Section!

A joke (sorta) but there are niches available no matter the size of your business.

See Copy Blogger’s 3 examples.

Get Hacking

“The emergence of content spam via ChatGPT.” My favorite line of the week (credit MIG).

AI is a writer’s helper. Not a replacement. Gobs of content garbage will mount in the next few years. No personality, no human experience, silicone chip-based storytelling.

Today’s hack is for you to plan ways to go deeper on personalizing your emails. Beyond using subscriber data (ex. using something specific to their industry in the subject line), which is smart.

But also, mix in stories about your experience. Short, sweet, personal. Doesn’t have to be Earth-shattering. 

I’m doing a St. Jude 50-Mile Dog Walk fundraiser for February. My Lab has a hurt leg so it’s on me and the other (psycho) pup to finish the challenge. Not Earth-shattering but personal. 

ChatGPT will never have that experience or walk a mailman-hating K9.

📝Please take survey below. There will be ice cream afterward… somewhere.🍦