Three Email Marketing Mistakes that Kill ROI


Email @ signMarketers send more than 122 billion commercial emails every hour. So to those who say that email marketing doesn’t work, I say, “Marketers wouldn’t spend money on a tool that doesn’t work.” Well, the good ones wouldn’t!

The truth is that engaging email marketing content still sells. But there are some common practices that can kill your results. So whether you’re an experienced email marketer like me, or new to the process of building and using email to drive revenue and engagement, it’s important to avoid committing these deadly email marketing sins.

Can the Spam & Don’t Hide Opt-Out Tools

No Spam LogoEmail has become a kind of “adult homework” that extends business hours far beyond nine to five. Since much of the time email users spend on email is spent on smartphones they pay for, outside of work hours, it’s no surprise that they have little patience for email that isn’t easy to browse quickly.

So marketers have to inspect every part of an email campaign to make sure that it’s clear, crisp and easy to view on any screen. Spamming your customers with unsolicited email is a fast way to wind up on your email service provider’s black list. So is hiding the legally required opt-out link.

Make sure that opt-out buttons or links are readily visible in every email. This encourages recipients who aren’t interested to use them instead of simply reporting you as a spammer.

Also make sure that the recipient of your email message has actually opted in to receive it.  Just because someone is a customer who provided their email address as part of the buying process doesn’t give you the right to add them to your marketing list.  I recently talked with a young marketer who had made that mistake.  She was quite proud of the 35,000 customers she was sending weekly emails to, and equally proud of the fact that she was averaging sales of about $10,000 per week from her campaigns.

Then she switched email service providers (ESPs), moving from one well-known company to another. During the switchover, she admitted to her new ESP that her list was made up entirely of people who had previously made purchases from the company or interacted in some way with customer support. They were horrified, and required that she send an opt-in email to everyone on her list. She did, and the list was quickly whittled down to fewer than 15,000 individuals — but the weekly average sales didn’t decline at all.

One of the reasons for her switch was that her original ESP was having deliverability problems with her list, largely because a relatively high percentage of people were reporting her email as spam. Cleaning up her list and adding a visible “Unsubscribe” link to every email solved that problem fast.

Design for Visual Appeal without Adding Problems

Email on Smartphone LogoIDC says that more than 80% of commercial emails will be opened on a mobile device by 2018. So how come so many companies keep sending email that is designed to be viewed on a big-screen monitor?

Part of it seems to be that the marketers tasked with sending email campaigns are using outdated tools, and don’t have the coding skills required to use HTML5 or CSS3 to create emails where the ratio of HTML text and appealing visuals is balanced.

It’s important to keep images small (in file size, not screen size) so that they load quickly and can easily be seen by your target audience. It’s also important not to overdo the visuals. You do need text – and an email that looks like a catalog page with stacked product visuals just won’t deliver the same results as an email with one or two images.

Integrate Social Media and Email

Social Media plus Email LogosWhen it comes to acquiring new customers, Marketing Sherpa says that email is more than 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. But when you integrate email and social media, you’re linking the two most effective marketing channels available to most businesses.

One way to harness this power is to make your emails sharable via social networks. Adding the “share” function to well-designed emails can greatly increase your reach and draw in new customers. Another is to use the same images you use in your emails on your social media pages – Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook – to drive traffic from email and social media to the landing page or product offer featured in your email.

This assumes, of course, that you have an attractive opt-in landing page where your prospective and current customers can sign-up to receive emails from you. If you don’t have one already, put one together now – and create an offer with a high perceived value for your customers.

Yes, I’m talking about an opt-in bribe. Here are a few that work well:

  • Checklists, templates, or resource lists
  • Buyer’s guides or downloadable ebooks/PDFs
  • Discount coupons
  • Free shipping on a first purchase
  • Free samples, trials or products

Email marketing is too powerful to be hamstrung by these common and easy to avoid mistakes — so avoid them to immediately improve your results!

Graphic credits: The graphics included here were created by the artist named Geralt, who offered them under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay.

About debmcalister

I'm a Dallas-based marketing consultant and writer, who specializes in helping start-up technology companies grow. I write (books, articles, and blogs) about marketing, technology, and social media. This blog is about all of those -- and the funny ways in which they interesect with everyday life. It's also the place where I publish general articles on topics that interest me -- including commentary about the acting and film communities, since I have both a son and grandson who are performers.
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2 Responses to Three Email Marketing Mistakes that Kill ROI

  1. David says:

    Completely agree with these email marketing mistakes.

    I also feel that these are the most common mistakes which most of the email marketers make. Sending emails with boring subject is very much common mistake.

    I never open any email which don’t attract my eyes. I always ignore or delete such emails instantly.

    Email marketers should understand that nobody wants to waste their time in reading boring emails. If you really want to convert them then you must have to send emails with having eye catchy, attractive and promising subject line. Because It is the only line which readers read first.

    So taking care of it can improve your skills.

    I am glad that you have listed all the major email marketing mistakes here so that we can learn them and can avoid them. Thanks for sharing it with us. 😀

  2. Amy S. Arutt says:

    Very informative post. Thank you, Deb!

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