September 27, 2017 Edgar Guillen

Six E-Mail Marketing Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs


In my mother tongue, Spanish, there’s a tough loving but wise saying. I’ll do my best to translate it without butchering it:

“Uno no nace aprendido”

It translates to: a person isn’t born having learned everything.

And if there’s a field where I’ve seen this in action has been in all things e-mail marketing.

Whomever claimed that e-mail marketing was dead must be biting their tongue very hard right now. It has become a crucial tool to develop and maintain a strong relationship with leads and contacts, by sharing regular information that’s relevant for their needs and their stage in the customer lifecycle.

Now, here’s the thing: in order for your e-mail strategy to work, you need to be a quick learner on the what’s effective and what isn’t.

And, even though this field is also in constant evolution, just as every area of content marketing, there are basic details you must take care of, such as: your e-mail subject, its content and how to distribute it, among others. Many marketers run the risk of being too concerned about adapting the hottest tool that will guarantee more opens, without paying attention to the substance of the content.

Today, I’ll tell you about the six worst mistakes you must avoid with your e-mails and why they’re so toxic for your marketing efforts.

1. Your Subject Line is

According to Radicati, 269 billion e-mails are sent every day around the world.

If you want a less overwhelming number, here’s mine: Only today, at the time I write this post, I’ve received around 25 e-mails… and I’m not even that popular!

So, how to pick the ones to read right now? By checking out the subject line. That’s how I determine if this e-mail is the most important content I have to read now or if I can wait until lunch or (worse) if it can wait for a day where I don’t have anything else to do but to purge unread mails from my old Yahoo! account.

Your e-mail’s subject line is as powerful as a first impression. Thus, a dull line will relegate your e-mail to the dreaded Purging Day category. But, on the other hand, don’t overdo the pizzaz with a clickbait title that has nothing to do with the content.

How can you know if your subject line is just right? There are several headline analyzers in the market you can use to evaluate your subject lines. I personally use the one from Sharethrough, as I find it user friendly and very thorough in its evaluation.

2. Your E-mail is Image Only

We love design, and we loooooove our designers. And if you don’t know why we love ‘em, you gotta follow us on Instagram. But, no matter how big our love is, giving them free reign to create image only e-mails is a no-no.


According to MarketingSherpa, only 33% of e-mail recipients have images turned on by default. That is, two thirds of your list of contacts would have to go the extra mile to enable image downloading to watch your e-mail, or toss it in the garbage if they can’t do it by any reason (Maybe their company’s e-mail server forbids image downloading, maybe their data plan is capped, or maybe’s just out of spite).

Don’t let this discourage you from working with your designers to create pretty mails. Instead, make sure to include text in it to give anti image downloaders a clear idea of what your e-mail is about. Also, don’t underestimate the power of the plain text mail. It’s not glamorous, I know, but if well written, it can get you places.

3. Customisation Gone Wrong

Alright, fellas, time to talk about one of my own e-mail marketing gaffes.

Lots of marketers insist on the importance of segmentation and custom-made e-mails for more personal content. But, the real key for these to work isn’t in sprinkling dynamic tags all over the body of text. It’s about making sure you use the right tag for the e-mail client you’re using.

Many of us work with more than one e-mail client, and each comes with their own set of rules and style of tagging. That’s how one day, with no caffeine and running under a tight schedule, I found myself in the dreaded situation of using the wrong dynamic tag for MailChimp, which resulted in more than 5000 people getting a highly customized “Hi, <FNAME>!” e-mail.


To avoid this, don’t hesitate to look up in your client’s help guide to make sure you have the right dynamic tag wherever you need it. Also, don’t forget to send yourself a test mail before going live.

4. Inconsistency in Sending Frequency

You’ve seen it happen: you sign up for an awesome-looking newsletter, which promises to send you epic information about that thing you love once a week. But, you only get your first mail three weeks into your subscription, another one the following week and another one a month later.

I bet that, by then, your excitement for that newsletter about thing you love is long gone.

Just as you should swipe left if a potential paramour is erratic in their efforts to woo you, subscribers won’t be as interested in a newsletter without a clear posting frequency. Consistency is crucial to build the relationship between you and your customer, regardless if you’re sending them e-mails daily, weekly or monthly.

Let them know when to expect communications from you, and they’ll be more willing to engage with your content… whenever you decide to send it.

5. Not Sticking to the Content That Made Users Sign Up

I get it, change is the only constant thing in our lives. But when it comes to e-mail marketing, you need to tread carefully with it. One thing is to use a new typography or color scheme because Millennial Pink isn’t cutting it anymore.

Changing the actual content of your newsletter, however, is something totally different. And, if you don’t communicate it beforehand, the consequences will be disastrous.

Users sign up to your newsletter expecting a specific type of content from you. They trust you with their e-mails, believing that they’ll receive the information they expect. Throwing them a curveball by going from a newsletter about puppy training to another one about monster trucks will not be well received.


Besides, that would be a really bizarre change of tune, but well.

If your newsletter does decide to change things up, at least inform your audience ahead of time and let them choose if they’ll ride the truck with you or if they prefer to unsubscribe. Even if they’ll no longer follow you into your new path, they will appreciate the heads up, and your e-mail engagement will suffer less.

6. Not Testing Before Pulling the Trigger

The final mistake is something you cannot procrastinate on doing, no matter how urgent is that e-mail you’re sending.

You’ve got your handsome e-mail ready to fire, aiming at hundreds or thousands of your loyal followers. and are thisclose to send it to the world.

Are you 100% sure that e-mail is ready for primetime? Yes? No? Time for a pop quiz:

  • Is your subject line interesting?
  • Is it targeted to the right segment for your list?
  • Are the dynamic tags well placed?
  • Does it feature images and text? Do you have a plain text version enabled?
  • Is the CTA link working?
  • Is the e-mail optimized for mobile?
  • Did you schedule it for best opening times?

The best way to answer YES to all of these questions is by sending you a copy of the mail before it’s live. Look at it from your receiver’s eyes: open it on your desktop and in mobile, try out all the links and that your test name is properly displayed.

The extra three minutes you spend checking your test mail can save you from an e-mail marketing catastrophe and even inspire you to make a couple of extra tweaks for more engagement.

Is there another crucial e-mail marketing mistake we should be aware of? Let us know in the comments below!


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