5 Killer Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Post summary:

  • The number of promotional emails
  • Why should readers open your email?
  • 5 email marketing mistakes to avoid

Most businesses do email marketing.

In fact, more than 294 billion emails are sent daily, which means each morning you wake up and check your inbox you will most likely see a lot of unread emails.

How many emails did you wake up to this morning?

It’s important that when your business sends an email to your customers, you stand out from the other hundreds of emails that your reader will inevitably receive the same day you send yours. Sending an email requires an investment and it’s important that this time is not wasted on an email not being read or acted on.

In my last post on email marketing, we covered tips on what you can do the next time you send out a newsletter. This post will cover five tips on what NOT to do.

1. Sending From donotreply@yourdomain.com

No-reply@ or DoNotReply@ sender email addresses are uninviting and unwelcome. If you send an email from one of those email addresses, don’t be surprised if your open rate is low.  Always send an email from an address your customers can reply to and be sure to include phone numbers, and links to your social profiles as well to let the customer contact you in any channel they want to.

If you’re the Managing Director of a large corporation, you’re most likely not the one sending your emails out, however, you are the person that people in the industry will know. Whether or not they’re written by you or not, emails should be sent from a recognizable name.

2. Sending Image-only Based Emails

Only 33% of email subscribers have images turned on by default. This means that your email will display as one long empty box and cannot be read by up to 67% of your email list (see example below). There are times when image-only emails make sense. If you sell visual products such as clothing, or travel then going with an image only based email might be the most obvious choice.

The two examples below are with images not enabled. The example on the left is an email that is image-only whereas the image on the right is 50% image and 50% text. Which one do you think is easier to read?

image based only emails

Text only mails have a 40% higher click through rate than those picture emails. If you do use images, make sure you repeat everything in simple text so that readers can take action and ensure you link to a web version of your email (You can get more tips on on how to create the perfect email marketing template here)

3. Not Linking to Your Website

The average number of links within an email marketing campaign is 23.3 links – That’s a lot of links!
At the other end of the scale, you have marketing campaigns with zero links! The goal of the email is to get people to click through to your website, but if your link sends subscribers to your home page they are less likely to scroll through your website to find the offer.

Your email should include at least one link and it should link to a dedicated landing page that continues the message within the email. Similar to search marketing campaigns, build a dedicated landing page for your email marketing campaign that makes it easy for readers to buy from you. KISSmetrics do a great job at linking to an email-focused landing page. The email includes one call-to-action, which sends me to this page:

not linking to your website

4. The ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach

The most effective form of marketing is relevance.  The one size fits all approach no longer works (did it really ever work?). Your message needs to be relevant to the reader. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company in New York does not have the same needs as a small business owner on a farm in the middle of England. Being relevant shows you care and as only 11% segment their email lists, relevant marketing is a competitive advantage.

Segmentation can be basic or it can get complex. If you segment your list into different groups and customize your messaging to each reader, you’ll see higher click-through rates—and more-engaged customers.

5. Ignoring Mobile

43% of people check emails on their smartphones every day and more than 40% of mobile email users check email four or more times per day. Whether you use mobile for reading emails or managing customer contacts, mobile is here to stay. If your email is not optimized for mobile devices, regardless of how relevant your message is, people will not be able to read it.

ignoring mobile

However, optimizing images in emails is only one part of the mobile marketing process. The second part goes back to the purpose of email marketing; driving traffic to your website to convert. Keep the process as easy as possible. Make sure that readers can complete their desired action such as registering for a webinar or completing a purchase.

Now it’s your turn

Are you ready to enhance your email marketing campaigns?

These five tips should be something you can implement in your next email campaign along with the email marketing check-list tips we published earlier this month. Email marketing is still the most preferred communication channel for customers and an effective email marketing strategy that will always out-perform all online marketing channels. Follow these tips, measure your performance and make email marketing your most successful channel.

But that’s not all – One crucial email marketing mistake you could be making is to report on the wrong metrics. Download the email marketing KPI guide to learn what metrics to reports on and more importantly, how to improve them!

What are some email marketing mistakes I have missed in the list? Please share in the comments below.

P.S. You can also download our free white paper ‘Email Marketing Best Practices’ here.

Email emplates for B2B marketing

email marketing checklist


About Steven MacDonald

Steven MacDonald

Steven Macdonald is an online marketer based in Tallinn, Estonia, Steven has more than ten years experience in the online marketing field and is driven by creating success stories. You can connect with Steven on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Jose Argudo

about 4 years ago

Of all these the worst one, in my opinion is the first, as sending with do not reply, not only makes it impossible for your subscribers to ask anything, but nowadays ISPs usually give value to the fact that subscribers reply to your emails, so making it impossible will give some negative points that can add to your score and end up your newsletters out of the inbox.



about 4 years ago

I completely agree, Jose. If your subscribers cannot respond to your email, then they most likely won't shop with you either



about 4 years ago

Yes, I had done business promotion last year via email marketing and faced such problems. After that I moved to direct mail marketing and now my business having a smooth movement. Because once I mail to a customer, I will get the feedback soon and I would be able to target the demographics too.



about 1 year ago

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!


Steven MacDonald

about 1 year ago

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, David. Really great point!


Alice Dylan

about 1 year ago

Well-written article on Email Marketing Mistakes. While all the pointers are important, the one that draws maximum attention is number four. That's because this mistake of ' One Size Fits All' causes the most damage to email marketing success. It is essential that marketers understand that email blasts are a thing of the past. To get the desired ROI out of the email marketing campaigns, personalized targeted messages need to be delivered to the subscribers. And this can only be possible when marketers understand customer preferences and purchase patterns and frame targeted messages that hit the bull's eye. Instead of investing in standalone email marketing platforms, it is prudent to invest in new-age CRM applications that manage sales, marketing and customer service collectively. Marketers can use the CRM to understand customer data, do easy and precise email list segmentation, schedule and run email campaigns and track the performance to improve the future ones.


Steven MacDonald

about 1 year ago

Great comment, Alice! CRM software is a huge advantage for marketers' that want to understand customer behavior across the entire journey.


Emma Swan

about 9 months ago

Well-written article on Email Marketing Mistakes. While all the pointers are important, the one that draws maximum attention is number four.



about 9 months ago

These mistakes are still quite relevant... I really don't like the "do-not-reply" emails. It creates some kind of a barrier and an impression that the business of unwelcome. What I find very important is to make emails mobile friendly. That's where we read most of the messages these days. It's very annoying if an email is not mobile ready. Perhaps another important thing is a good content strategy. It's like a fuel to the whole strategy.


Steven MacDonald

about 9 months ago

That's a great point, Laurel.


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