19 Worst Email Marketing Mistakes You Can Possibly Make

email marketing mistakes

Mistakes are not always avoidable. They happen in all spheres of life, including when planning on how best to market your business.

That’s why it’s safe to say that email marketing is not for the faint of heart. However, that phrase refers mostly to those who don’t know what they’re doing.

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to drive traffic and boost sales. You have to do more than your homework on it.

Yes, there are pitfalls, but if you’re well prepared, you can avoid such pitfalls and make email marketing the gold mine that it is.

Whether you’re starting or swimming in the big leagues, there are still mistakes you want to avoid. Particularly those that leave the worst trail of results behind.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones every business will do well to sidestep.

Top Email Marketing errors

1) Not Having an Email list

Is email marketing possible without an email list? Perhaps so. But even if it is, you’d be putting your business at risk without first having one.

It’s not just a silly mistake many startups make, but one that can grossly affect your business.

It seems odd to be asked for a list to work with and struggling to find one.

It’s not a forgivable excuse when you want to build a brand with email marketing as a top strategy.

To that end, it’s important to create, sustain, and steadily build an email list for your business or website.

2) Purchasing Email Addresses

People are smarter than you think. So don’t imagine they don’t want to know who’s mailing them. That’s why you shouldn’t resort to this alternative.

There are many companies willing to sell the email addresses of many unknown persons so that you can grow your list. Don’t fall for this trap especially when you think you’ll achieve a better success rate by buying email addresses.

Ultimately, you will end up sending unsolicited messages to contacts that don’t need them. That will increase the rate of unsubscription.

What you can do is try to grow your email list the natural way – through your hard work, determination, and special techniques.

3) Ignoring Lead Generation

Before you can create an email list, the fact is that you need people to sign up.

Sure, fantastic content is one part of the equation. However, user experience is the second, while a lead generation solution is the third.

With these three together, your email list is certain to grow at an exponential rate.

Even if you might offer the most intriguing content and user experience, failing to make your sign-up forms noticeable puts you several steps back.

All your efforts will count for nothing as far as email marketing goes. People need to see your sign-up forms at the end of all the fascinating steps you take.

One way you can arrest such a development is to enter lead generation plug-ins such as WP Optin Wheel, Thrive Leads, and Optin Monster to give you a better chance.

The tools mentioned above boost your opt-in rates significantly.

That way, you never have to complain when people aren’t subscribing to your email list.

4) Not Checking your Stats

Tracking your open rates is not only incredible and all, but it also helps you know whether the reader eventually makes it to your website.

While there, the percentage of them making a purchase vastly increases.

Perhaps you had no idea of this fact. Well, now you do; you can track email subscribers using Google Analytics.

For example, it’s possible to see the subscribers that came to your site from each of your email campaigns.

You can also check out the emails with the most significant impact, the purchases on your site, etc.

Constant Contact Real-Time Reporting

Email marketing services often take it to the next level. For example, Constant Contact has a Real-Time Reporting feature.

MailChimp and MailPoet also have their built-in reporting as well as Google Analytics integration at your fingertips.

As you can see, at any point in time, it’s possible for you to know all about your marketing efforts. That makes it a lot easier to track your stats.

5) Leaving out Email Marketing Best Practices

It’s a given that all businesses looking to grow must observe email best practices.

What you don’t want is to be considered a spammer when sending out bulk emails or newsletters. As such, you have to follow through on established standards.

Some of the practices include the unsubscribe option that brands have to include in the emails and newsletters they send out.

It’s also great to remind your subscribers how you came across their email addresses to avoid being flagged as spam.

On the whole, you should constantly remind yourself of the importance of only sending emails that have HTML links and text content.

6) Not Encouraging your Subscribers to add you to their contacts list

You’re not rude or out of line to ask your subscribers to add you to their contact list.

There are many ways to do this including subtle ways that will help make sure that your newsletters or emails are not considered spam.

When you’re added to their contact list, there’s no question of spam emails.

That’s because your messages will always end up in their inbox.

7) Overlooking A/B Testing

Along with observing the performance of your email marketing campaign, you can do what you can to carry out various tests to study your performance and see which method worked best for your business.

Some of the tests you can run include:

  • The exact time the emails were sent. Go ahead and compare the time the emails were sent and then discover which one had more reads at that time.
  • Position of the signup box. The position of this box is important. As such, you should choose the right place to place the signup box which will affect the number of subscribers you will get.
  • Titles of your emails. Go over which title will have a larger open rate, a longer one, or a short one. It all comes down to picking out the right one.
  • The type of email you send. Before constructing and sending an email to your subscribers, you must research and choose the right email that would suit your subscribers and achieve its purpose best.
  • Use of images – Including images in your emails or newsletters attracts a high click rate. Test and decide on that.

8) Not Optimizing Emails for Mobile Devices

If you’re not optimizing your emails, you’re making one of the worst mistakes of all time.

That’s because about 46% of emails are read over mobile devices and this is expected to rise every year.

Another 68% of email messages are opened on mobile but the sad fact is that 39% of marketers have no strategy for mobile emails.

Reading the statistics above should spur you on to see the importance of having a mobile-friendly email marketing strategy.

Setting up a campaign is great, but before finalizing your campaign, make sure that it is tested against all major platforms, including mobile devices.

9) Not asking for Email Verification

Getting email verification from your subscribers is one step many brands fail to take.

This is something to pursue as it will help to know the inactive accounts in your email list.

It’s an important step to consider so that you have an effective email marketing campaign.

To that end, always be keen about the quality rather than the quantity of your email list.

10) Not Offering Incentives for Sign-ups

Incentives are part of a wide range of marketing tactics. So don’t feel it’s out of place for email marketing.

As such, when you don’t take the time to think about incentives and other ways to increase your email list, that will be a huge reason for not getting a good return on your investment.

When you want more people subscribing to your emails, offer some incentives.

What you can do is break the number of people you want to reach into categories and offer incentives in the form of special deals, discounts, or downloads.

Worst Email Marketing Mistakes

11) Making it Difficult to Unsubscribe

You want to hold on to your email list by all means. The worst way to do that is going ahead to make it difficult for readers to unsubscribe.

Well, you can’t stop people from leaving even if you hide the unsubscribe button.

What you should know about unsubscription is that it’s much better to have let them off your service than have your email addressed as spam.

12) Spamming

Bombarding your subscribers with emails won’t move your purchase rates up any faster.

On the contrary, sending many emails too frequently is one major email marketing mistake. And that act turns off your readers.

Spamming can also increase unsubscribe rates. If that isn’t enough, sending emails too often might trigger spam blockers.

That effectively ruins your chances of connecting with the reader.

What you can do is set schedules. You can do a weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly schedule.

That will work well especially if you send valuable content and offers. Your campaign bounce, open, and click rates are indicators of a good schedule.

13) Not Having a Clear Call to Action

You’ve probably gone through many contents stating why you must always include a call to action (CTA) in any content.

This is true whether you’re talking about a landing page, a blog post, or other forms of content.

When you don’t have a clear call to action, you’re leaving it up to your audience to figure out what you want them to do.

While your readers are smart, that’s asking too much of them.

When composing those emails, begin with a clear vision of their purpose in mind.

Know what you want

Are you out to promote a piece of content you’ve written? Or you want to inform the reader of an upcoming event or product launch? Do you want to trigger a purchase?

Go ahead to focus your email’s text, images, and design to guide your readers toward the outcome you want.

Then, before you hit the send button, make sure your call to action is clear, enticing, and points the reader towards the outcome you want.

There are tips to help you make a great call to action. Here are some of them:

  • Make your CTA easy to find. Don’t bury your call to action in your email or body of content. Let it be prominently displayed so that it stands out from the rest of your email.
  • Use the right CTA words. Any unnecessary verbosity, vague, or boring language may cause readers to skip over your CTA. Use action words such as “Buy Now” and “Read More” to ignite a sense of urgency.
  • Clear message. The body of the message shouldn’t be all muddled up. Let it not be too long, and should be readable and not riddled with many links and calls to action.

14) Not Having a Professional look

If you’re surprised about some skeptical reception from some readers, you’re probably new to email marketing.

The fact is the web is a sketchy place. That’s why readers will always vet websites and emails until they’re sure of their safety status and professionalism.

You can’t risk your emails looking sketchy or amateurish, many readers will simply move it on to the trash or spam folder.

At that rate, you can forget about conversions because with that quality, you can’t get them to subscribe for long.

You can have some level of professionalism your readers expect when you do the following:

  • Check for spelling and grammar. You want to cut out those silly mistakes, especially when you have all the time in the world to proofread every email before sending it.
  • Don’t use stock images. If you’re going to have any type of image, and the last option you have is the stock option, don’t use it. That’s because readers have probably seen it a thousand times elsewhere. That’s bad for email marketing.
  • Leave out attachments. If you’re being professional, don’t include attachments in your emails. The people who tend to use them more are spammers and scammers.

If you must, let your attachment be a PDF that the subscriber specifically signed up to receive. In your marketing emails, don’t include attachments.

  • Use Respectful Language. No matter how funny and catchy it sounds, don’t ever be tempted to sound like a cursing sailor.

There are few audiences that will tolerate unprofessional language. Our advice is not to use any in the first place.

15) Inconsistency

Being inconsistent can be a death nail in your business.

Don’t be among the group of email marketers who send our emails sporadically in such a way that your readers don’t know when to expect the next content from you.

To avoid this inconsistency, start by setting and following a strict schedule, or creating an email drop campaign so that you can stay in touch for a set time.

If you don’t do that, you’ll possibly frustrate your list since your inconsistencies are well noted.

You stand a chance of your business being forgettable.

Part of your objective as a business owner is to keep your brand relevant by regularly emailing readers. You can do that without spamming them.

Always plan

When you plan your email campaigns, they stay on track. A free plugin such as Editorial Calendar is a great tool to help you do that. .

16) Using Cliche and Salesy Language

Brands go into businesses to make a sale. Everyone knows that. However, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about that to the point of pushing your customers over the purchase cliff.

Perhaps your email subjects are all similar and point to the fact that you only want a quick sale and not a long-term relationship.

You can always tailor your emails to serve a need and include a slight approach indicating what you want from your customers.

What you don’t want is your unique product and service being likened to just another voice that gets lost in their inbox.

17) Sending “Filler” Emails

You’re so low on content that you decide to send just about any email you can.

It’s one of the best feelings in the world when you have your email list to work with.

You get to send your emails to a particular group you nurture. However, there’s more to having the customary list of subscribers.

Some brands know how to send a few messages including those to welcome a customer, but that’s it after that.

What comes next is a barrage of pointless messages their list can’t identity with. That’s because they have nothing to say.

For the sake of it

Those are called filler emails simply because you have to send them and not because the message is worth it.

If you’ve been on a blog with good content over time and then suddenly witness a few bad ones, you’ll understand why you shouldn’t do the same with email marketing.

If you lack quality content, don’t email your subscribers. A good email has a specific goal in mind.

When you’re professional and have a planned schedule to back things up, you’ll always deliver valuable emails.

After all, your subscribers are your customers, and you wouldn’t want to kill them with useless content that would probably see you binned.

18) Failing to categorize

You shouldn’t fall for this costly mistake. Don’t make the email marketing mistake of sending mass emails to everybody.

It’s only advisable when you do that over some routine update suitable for all users.

Having a huge list is not enough, you have to segment it on parameters. Thankfully, you can use factors such as geographic location, income, gender, past purchases, and so on.

Be practical

It’s pretty obvious that you can’t ask for all of your user’s data upfront. That’s definitely going to scare them away.

What you need is just their email addresses to sign up as a reader to your list.

That way, you can collect data later with surveys, on-site forms, and similar creative methods.

The point we’re trying to make is that the more data you have about your reader, the better you can segment your list.

When that’s done, you can send laser-targeted messages to different segments accordingly.

Your Customers deserve better

Do your best not to send customers and non-customers the same emails.

That’s one of the reasons why segmenting your email list should be at the top of your email marketing priority.

19) Waiting Until you have “Enough” Subscribers

One of the worst email marketing mistakes a brand or person can make with email marketing is putting off sending a new type of email campaign until you have “enough” subscribers on your list.

You’ll sooner realize that this mistake leads to unnecessary delays in the launch of your new newsletters and much more.

In that state, others will take advantage to send their marketing campaigns to your subscribers.

Don’t wait

Of course, it’s natural to want to have as big of an audience as possible.

Yet if you keep waiting for some magical number of subscribers, your contacts will forget about ever signing up with you.

As a result, you get a lower engagement when you finally send out your emails because your recipients won’t be expecting to hear from you.

What you can do is follow through with your commitment, or at least, be as consistent as possible.

You can do both rights after you start, though.

Also, a lot of email subscribers share insightful or interesting emails with their peers.

By waiting or delaying to send out your emails till you have more, you’re limiting any list growth potential that comes through such referrals.


This goal is to help avoid marketing errors, especially when you consider that email is a major marketing force.

That’s why it’s important to follow the direction of this piece and avoid the pitfalls that are detrimental to the success of your email marketing campaign.