Dec 11, 2023

Avoid These 26 Common Email Marketing Mistakes

There’s no better, faster or cheaper way to communicate with B2B buyers than by using permission-based email marketing. Email marketing is measurable and delivers immediate results. With dramatically higher response rates than direct mail and banner ads, email marketing can complement and enhance every other marketing activity that your business engages in, particularly demand and lead generation programs that drive sales. 

It’s important to use permission-based email marketing correctly and avoid the pitfalls that lead to opt-outs and spam blocking. If your email marketing strategy is stale or failing, correcting the following errors will help you turn it around.  

The top five most common mistakes 

1. Overlooking personalization 

Why this is a mistake: Generic emails fail to engage recipients personally, leading to lower open and response rates. This is because today’s business buyers expect a personalized experience. Brands that excel at email personalization know their target audiences inside out. Moreover, they know each individual customer, where they are in their journey, what solutions they’re seeking, what type of content they tend to engage with, etc.  

What to do instead: Use customer data to personalize content and provide solutions that address where they are in their journey.  For instance, address the recipient by name and reference their industry or recent interactions with your brand, like mentioning a recent webinar where they chatted with your team. 

2. Ignoring segmentation 

Why this is a mistake: A broad approach to email not only overlooks personalization, but it treats all subscribers the same, regardless of applicability. It delivers irrelevant content to your recipients, which decreases open rates, engagement and conversion. This is a waste of your marketing resources and efforts and can damage your business reputation with customers and prospects. It can also damage your sender reputation with email providers.  

What to do instead: Segment your email list by industry, location, job role, position in the buying journey, etc., as applicable. For example, a software company might send different emails to IT managers and CFOs, focusing on technical benefits for the former and cost savings for the latter. An agribusiness might address drought conditions with farmers in the southwest and flooding issues with midwestern farmers.  

3. Failing to update email lists 

Why this is a mistake: Outdated lists can lead to sending emails to inactive or irrelevant contacts. This is especially vital for B2B where job changes are frequent. Additionally, keep in mind that people who want to access gated content without receiving follow-up emails may use burner email addresses. Inactive contacts result in lower engagement rates and higher bounce rates that can skew the effectiveness of your email campaigns. As with ignoring segmentation, failing to update email lists can also damage your sender reputation with email providers and even get your business blacklisted.  

What to do instead: Regularly clean and update your email lists. This means monitoring and rectifying bounced emails to fix or remove invalid emails and resolve issues that may be causing servers to block your email. It also means retargeting or removing disengaged contacts. For instance, a B2B manufacturing company should remove contacts who haven’t engaged in over a year to maintain list accuracy. 

4. Unclear or missing calls to action (CTAs)  

Why this is a mistake: Quite simply, if your CTA is unclear or absent, you’re missing out on conversion opportunities. After all, the goal of email marketing is to propel recipients along their buying journey. You can’t do this without motivating them to move.  

What to do instead: Ensure that your CTA is present, clear and compelling. It should also direct traffic to a relevant page, whether it’s a blog, a landing page or a service page. Furthermore, your email copy should have other links that lead recipients to a desired action. This might include clickable images, linked text or product names. For example, an email promoting a new solution could end with a brightly colored button saying, “Schedule Your Free Demo” that directs traffic to a dynamic calendar while the product name might lead to your product launch page.  

5. Underestimating the subject line 

Why this is a mistake: First impressions are everything in marketing. And email marketers have 30 characters to make a great first impression. Subject lines that are uninteresting, irrelevant, misleading or prematurely truncated lead to low open rates.  

What to do instead: To truly excel at email marketing, you must master the art of subject lines. This means writing engaging, honest subject lines. Clearly address the value you provide the recipient (and make sure your email content delivers on that value). Subject lines around 30 characters tend to perform the best. For example, a Fintech business might use a subject line like “New Analytics Tool to Boost ROI.” It’s direct and intriguing without being clickbait. 

Other common email marketing mistakes 

But wait! There’s more. To help you nurture buyers along their buying journey and move them from cold or warm leads to hot prospects, we’ve compiled a list of 21 more common missteps in email marketing along with solutions and examples. By correcting these faux pas, you’ll turn your email marketing into a strategic lead-generating tool. 

3 common email messaging mistakes 

  1. Overloading with content:  Lengthy emails can overwhelm and disengage busy professionals. Instead of getting into the weeds, write with a goal in mind. Nix small talk and unnecessary filler. Keep your email content concise, focusing on three main points with clear calls to action. For instance, a brief update email from a cloud services provider highlighting new features, a customer success story and an invitation to a webinar.
  2. Overpromoting products or services: Constantly pushing sales can irritate recipients and lead to unsubscribes. Instead, balance promotional content with informative or educational thought leadership material. For example, a tech firm could mix product updates with expert thoughts on industry trends. 
  3. Neglecting the power of storytelling:  Focusing solely on facts and figures can make brand emails seem dry and less engaging. Instead, incorporate storytelling into your emails to create a more compelling and memorable connection with the audience. For instance, a B2B software company could detail how their software solved a specific problem for a client. This approach illustrates the product’s benefits and resonates more personally with the audience, making the message more impactful and memorable. 

3 common email design mistakes 

  1. Overlooking design and readability: Poorly designed emails can be difficult to read and hurt your business reputation. Instead, ensure your emails are visually appealing and easy to read. Use clear fonts, high-quality images, white space and branded elements.  
  2. Neglecting mobile optimization: Many B2B decision-makers read emails on mobile devices. Unoptimized emails can be difficult to read and interact with. Instead, optimize emails for mobile with a responsive design. Use a single-column layout and large, clickable buttons, ensuring easy readability on smartphones. 
  3. Failing to optimize email for accessibility: Inaccessible emails can alienate a portion of your audience who have disabilities. Instead, ensure your emails are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. This means using alt-text for images, legible fonts and sufficient color contrast and ensuring your email is readable by screen readers. 

3 email mistakes that impact your sender reputation  

  1. Ignoring email footer content: Neglecting the footer can miss opportunities for compliance, additional navigation and contact information. Instead, be sure to use the footer for legal compliance, useful links and contact info. This might include links to user support, as well as your privacy policy and social media profiles. 
  2. List buying: Purchased lists often contain low-quality leads, who are less likely to engage with your content or convert into paying customers. This lack of engagement drives down campaign effectiveness and wastes resources. Moreover, sending emails to individuals who haven’t opted in could lead to an increase in spam complaints. Instead, build an organic list through inbound marketing strategies, like whitepaper downloads or webinars. If you need to reach a larger audience, consider using sponsored email. For instance, a B2B food services company can pay an industry magazine to send emails on its behalf to magazine subscribers.  
  3. Failing to comply with regulations: Non-compliance can damage customer trust, your email sender reputation and even lead to legal issues. This includes sending unsolicited emails or spam, improper use of purchased lists, failing to update your mailing list and more. Instead, adhere to regulations like GDPR and the CAN-SPAM Act. Ensure that emails include clear opt-out options and that proper consent is recorded, and don’t forget to regularly update your email list. 

2 common email scheduling mistakes 

  1. Inconsistent sending schedule: Sporadic emails can annoy recipients or cause them to forget about your brand. Instead, establish a regular emailing cadence, like a bi-weekly newsletter, to maintain consistent engagement without overwhelming subscribers.  
  2. Going dark: Periods of inactivity can lead to loss of engagement, loss of sales opportunities and competitive disadvantage. When email communications are pushed to the back burner and then resumed, your deliverability is decreased because email service providers may treat your sudden resurgence of emails as potential spam. To reestablish a relationship with subscribers after a hiatus, implement a “We’re back” campaign. Then update your email list. Start gradually by sending lower volumes of emails and establishing a consistent cadence. 
  3. Ignoring the importance of timing: Sending emails at the wrong time can result in low open and engagement rates. Instead, optimize the timing of your emails. For instance, a financial services firm might find that emails sent on Tuesday mornings have higher open rates compared to weekends. 

7 common email strategy mistakes 

  1. Ignoring analytics: Overlooking analytics can cause a business to repeat ineffective strategies and overlook chances for improvement. Instead, monitor data from open rates, click-through rates and conversion statistics to tailor and refine future campaigns, ensuring they resonate better with the target audience and drive more conversions.  
  2. Neglecting A/B testing: Failing to implement A/B testing can lead to stagnant campaign performance. By regularly experimenting with subject lines, email layouts and call-to-action wording and location, you can learn what engages your audience and use these insights for continuous improvement and higher conversion rates. For example, compare two subject lines to identify which yields a higher open rate for your monthly product updates. 
  3. Neglecting behavioral segmentation: Ignoring user behavior creates campaigns that are inefficient and less personalized. Instead, segment and personalize emails based on recipient interactions with your emails. For example, send a targeted follow-up email to contacts who clicked on a specific product link in a previous email.  
  4. Neglecting re-engagement campaigns: Failing to re-engage inactive subscribers can result in a stale email list. Instead, run re-engagement campaigns targeting inactive subscribers. For example, you might send a “We Miss You” email with updates on new features or industry insights. 
  5. Not testing deliverability: Emails that don’t reach inboxes waste resources and opportunities. Instead, regularly test deliverability and adjust to ensure your emails reach the intended inboxes. This includes checking your spam score, blacklist monitoring, seed testing to monitor where emails are delivered and how they’re displayed, etc. Then, adjust your practices to avoid spam complaints and blocked emails.   
  6. Not utilizing autoresponders effectively: Underuse of automated emails that are triggered by subscriber actions misses opportunities for timely, automated engagement with your buyers. Instead, set up strategic autoresponders for welcome emails, event reminders and follow-ups on downloads and abandoned carts.  
  7. Inadequate response handling: When your buyers respond to your emails, a lack of response can lead to missed business opportunities and customer service failures. Instead, set up a system to handle responses effectively. This may mean having a dedicated team or automated system to address inquiries or feedback from emails. 

2 common email technology mistakes 

  1. Using the wrong email marketing platform: The wrong platform may lack necessary features, scalability or integration capabilities  – or be too technically advanced for your team – hindering the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and wasting your investment. A mismatched platform can limit your ability to segment lists effectively or track key metrics, impacting campaign successes. Instead, select a platform that aligns with your business needs and goals.  
  2. Not integrating email software with CRM: Lack of integration leads to disjointed customer data and missed opportunities for personalized communication. Instead, ensure your email platform is integrated with your CRM and marketing technology (martech). This allows you to tailor emails based on your clients’ past interactions and their location in their buying journey.  

Ready to improve your email marketing strategy?  

Email marketing is a low-cost digital marketing activity that leverages data to drive measurable results. It allows brands to nurture buyers through their journey, driving interest and engagement. It’s an excellent way to keep your brand top of mind and build a reputation as an industry expert with your audience. But it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. To truly drive results from your email marketing efforts, you must have a deep understanding of email marketing tactics, best practices, your audience and the technology you’re using.  

If you’re struggling with any part of your email marketing efforts, we’re here to help. Contact Elevation Marketing today to see how our email marketing experts can amplify your email marketing strategy.  

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