5 email marketing mistakes your small business should avoid

By Lisa Michaels

Marketers have been using email for a long time as a low-cost but effective way to reach a large number of people with targeted messages. Despite the naysayers who say that email is dead, it continues to deliver high returns on investment for companies of every size that serve practically every industry. Still, many marketing messages get deleted before recipients open them.

Of course, simply assembling an email list and sending out messages is not enough to achieve success. In fact, email marketing requires a strategy for converting new customers and inspiring existing customers to make a repeat purchase.

Never mistake the glowing results that some brands have achieved as a sign of guaranteed success. Instead, you should recognize that email marketing requires a deliberate investment of time and effort to get profitable results. Also, to give your company and brand effective exposure, you need to make sure you’re not making some of the common mistakes that have held others back.

Overlooking the subject line

Ignoring the importance of the subject line can cause your emails to go directly to the trash folder. Regardless of whether a subject line triggers a spam filter or fails to attract the attention of a recipient, it can fail to engage readers. Instead, recognize that the subject line represents your one chance to stand out from others in crowded inboxes. In other words, the subject line is vital to your success, so make sure you fully use it.

Connect with your recipients by grabbing their attention with a casual, conversational tone that includes both creativity and a personal touch. Thanks to software automation, for example, you can add a recipient’s name and other custom data to the subject line. To be sure, however, you always need to make sure that your email subject line has relevance to the message inside.

Unprofessional-looking emails

People lose confidence in brands that don’t double and triple check their emails for grammar and spelling. Always spend some extra time proofreading your messages and, whenever possible, have one or more of your team members review marketing emails before you send them.

Other flaws that make your emails look and feel unprofessional include broken links, poor quality images and images that fail to load. Everything contained in a marketing email should make sense and have a coherent, respectful message that encourages people to buy your products and services.

Ignoring segmentation

Sending the same message to your entire mailing list can result in leaving money on the table because different people have different needs. As a result, a large percentage of your messages can fail to connect with your audience. As noted above, automated email marketing tools give you the ability to customize messages with the names, needs and buying habits of your readers.

As part of your effort to customize your email marketing campaign, you should send tailored messages to the various demographic groups on your list. When you do this, people in a particular age group, income bracket or housing market can receive messages designed to meet their needs. Under those circumstances, you can realize substantially higher click-through rates. Also personalizing your messages will show your customers you know and care about them and this will help you gain their loyalty.

Not optimizing for mobile

Mobile users now dominate the online landscape. In fact, 54 percent of all email messages are accessed on mobile devices. Knowing this, you make a tragic mistake by not ensuring that your email marketing messages are mobile optimized. Instead, make sure that everyone can properly view your messages before you send them.

You can use a marketing automation tool that simplifies previewing messages in various screen sizes and formats. Carefully check every screen view to ensure that both the text and graphics look good. Additionally, check to make sure screen elements such as buttons are easy to see and tap without causing accidental outcomes.

Neglecting analytics

How many people open your email messages? How many people click on links contained in your emails? Without analytics, you might never know. In fact, when you ignore such data, you will perpetuate errors that can keep your email marketing strategy from accomplishing its goals.

From within your marketing application, you can get reports that reveal data such as open, click-through and conversion rates. Such information helps you learn what messages and content types work and which do not. In response, you can tweak your messaging, segmentation and other aspects of your campaign to improve your results.

Final thoughts

Together with proper planning and the use of available technologies, you can avoid the mistakes that have harmed other brands. By making full use of your subject lines, creating professional content, optimizing for mobile and learning from analytics, you can achieve the results that your business deserves from email marketing. By fully taking advantage of the marketing automation tools available to you, you can monitor the results of your email campaign.


Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

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