Top 7 Email Marketing Mistakes

The author of the article: Polina Ohai, email marketer at the agency

Polina Ohai, email marketer at the agency

In this article, we suggest analyzing several common and serious mistakes that email marketers make when working with one of the most effective tools for communicating with the target audience – email newsletters.

Mistake 1. An inanimate welcome letter or lack of it

So, it happened: the user signed up for the newsletter. What’s next? There are two scenarios: after subscribing, a letter with a greeting sent to his mail, or he does not receive anything at all.

The second case is a losing one because by subscribing to company news, a person expects attention from the brand to his person. And when he doesn’t get this attention, he probably thinks: maybe I shouldn’t have subscribed to them? It seems that they are not interested in a potential client at all.

Of course, there are people who are annoyed by obtrusiveness and want to receive only information about new products in the company. However, in most cases, a greeting with a small pleasant bonus (for example, a 10% discount on the first purchase) will please everyone.

Conclusion: be sure to write a welcome email for your subscribers. Spending an hour of your time on its creation, you will receive much more return in the future.

A welcome email that you receive after subscribing to the ADINDEX newsletter

And what if you have a welcome letter?

Analyze its content:

  • Length. A letter that is too short/too long is not the best way for greeting. Try to keep it within about 1000 characters (that’s two small paragraphs of text, one picture, and a button to go to the site).
  • The tone of the letter. Too “dry” and robotic texts (like: “Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter! Have a great day.”) do not reflect the voice of the brand and in no way distinguish the company from thousands of similar ones. Come up with a non-trivial greeting, formulate it that way, so it is immediately clear whose newsletter the user has subscribed to;
  • “Liveliness” of the text.  The subscriber should get the impression that you were waiting for his subscription, and having received it, wrote a response manually and sent it to him. With a letter like that, you will gain the trust of the potential client and remove the existing barriers between you;

Conclusion: try to make your welcome emails personalized, lively, and as concise as possible. Test new formats, texts, images, update templates, give new subscribers food for thought, and provoke them into a long-term collaboration with the brand.

Mistake 2. Weak call to the subscription to the newsletter

What is the advantage of your newsletter?

Why should the user receive it?

How is it differs from others?

What benefit will the subscriber get by agreeing to the newsletter?

Do you give a subscription bonus?

Answer these questions and formulate a call for the subscription based on the answers. Try to highlight the main facts and, based on them, make an offer that will be difficult to refuse.

How to attract a user to a subscription?

  • Give the user a treat: PDF file with useful content, free access to paid materials, a discount on services or purchases of goods, and much more.
  • Work on the appearance of call: if it is a banner that pops up suddenly after 5 seconds of being on the site, make sure that it does not annoy the user and does not cause a desire to leave the Internet resource immediately. Choose calm, non-flashy tones in the colors of the company logo or website. At the same time, such a banner should not be entirely dull. If this is a regular block somewhere in the footer of the site, make it as visible as possible so that the user does not miss it when scrolling the page;
  • Test the subscription button: it will be a shame if it is not working or does not save mail in the database. Ask your colleagues and subscribe to your mailing list yourself, test the entire path of the subscriber and the appearance of his email in the database;

Conclusion: get your audience interested in subscribing to your newsletter. Remember that the user won’t like it if each of his scrolls accompanied by a bunch of pop-ups, but excessive modesty in the call will not add subscribers to you;

Mistake 3. A letter without text (consisting only images)

Sometimes, in pursuit of the most colorful and memorable letter, brands use lots of bright pictures in their mailings. Less commonly, companies are using letters without any text(when the newsletter consists exclusively of images). These formats are best to avoid, and here is why.

Emails consisting of only pictures, although they look beautiful, can be poorly displayed on the recipient. Reasons for when, instead of images, the subscriber receives a white sheet:

  • The display of pictures is disabled in the mail settings.
  • The size of the picture is too large, and either the subscriber’s mail does not load it at all, or he has a slow Internet that takes a long time to load the picture;
  • The image format not supported by the subscriber’s email service;

Of course, this does not mean that you need to permanently abandon such incredible tools in the mailing as pictures and gifs, but you should adhere to a few simple rules:

  • Before making a mailing to the entire database, send a test letter to a colleague or yourself. The main thing is to first check the letter before sending it: how it looks outside the constructor and whether there are any global errors in it, which can display to the recipient.
  • Add the alt attribute (text with description) to any picture in your email. The subscriber will see it only if the image itself, for one reason or another, cannot be loaded; In the alt text, you can write just the name of the image (a short description of what is showing in the picture).

Это изображение имеет пустой атрибут alt; его имя файла - pic_4.png

A letter without alt text, consisting only of pictures

Это изображение имеет пустой атрибут alt; его имя файла - pic_5-726x1024.png

A letter with an alt text and using blocks with text

Conclusion: avoid a format when the whole letter consists only of pictures. And be sure to add an alt attribute to every image in your mailing.

Mistake 4. Lack of optimization for smartphones

The fact that emails are creating on a PC is logical and understandable for everyone because even on the best smartphone, it is real to do that but is highly inconvenient. Experts who make a letter on a laptop do not always consider how it will be displayed on a mobile device, while 47% of users read emails through a smartphone. Therefore, it is essential to adapt email campaigns for mobile devices.

When adapting a letter, you should consider the following points:

  • Location of blocks. Smartphone screens are significantly smaller than PC screens, and trying to fit in a 5.5-inch phone three columns of goods is a bad idea. Due to such grouping, it will be difficult for the user to hit the right button, which will undoubtedly cause him a negative feeling. From my own experience, I can say: if we are talking about a mailing with a large number of products, it is best to put them all in one column. And even if such a letter may seem long to a smartphone user, he will see each product and can go to the description page without a problem;
  • Limit your use of CSS. Of course, writing with CSS looks more entertaining (due to the many styles). However, do not forget that the jumble of CSS codes is not reproducing on all devices, especially on mobile;
    Therefore, when working on the external component of the letter, try to use the simplest tools so that each subscriber sees the letter exactly the way it was intended;
  • Large text. Everything is trite and simple – use large text to make it easier for smartphone users to read it.
  • CTA (Call To Action) button. Do not forget to make sure that in the smartphone-optimized version of the letter, the CTA button (that essential button “Go to the store” or “Learn more about [product name]”) is visible and accessible to the user.

Это изображение имеет пустой атрибут alt; его имя файла - pic_6.jpg

Email without adaptation for mobile devices

Это изображение имеет пустой атрибут alt; его имя файла - pic_7.jpg

Email adapted for mobile devices

Mistake 5. Impersonal appeal to the entire subscriber base

I think many of you received messages in the mail with an appeal in the style of “Dear customer …” or “We are glad to welcome you …”. Perhaps you will agree with me that they lack individuality. Over time, reading another appeal to all contacts of the mailing base gets boring. To prevent this, use the personalization function. If, in addition to email addresses, your database also contains the names of subscribers, then this advice will be easy to implement; Add a specific script to the text of the letter that will “pull up” the subscriber’s name in the greeting (“Hello, Polina!”). If your database is nameless, this is easy to fix: try launching an acquaintance mailing at all available addresses. To do this, create a small questionnaire with questions for subscribers, among which there will be a mandatory question about the name.

But personalization is not always so necessary, especially when we are talking about promotional mailings with promotions and discounts. Try to answer the question yourself if the promotional letter will become more personalized if you add the script “Hello% FIRSTNAME%!”? Most probably not. In this case, at the beginning of the letter, it is more important to describe the conditions of the promotion.

Mistake 6. Bigger is better

Keep your email concise. But not all email marketers think so, and quite often, they try to fit as many products as possible into their mailing, turning the email into a huge boring catalog. On mobile devices, such a message turns into an infinitely long canvas. How to control the size of the letter if you want to fit everything into it? It is simple – try to follow the standard email sizes. And they are as follows: the width is 600 pixels, the height of the web page is 960. But since 960 pixels are unlikely to accommodate even the minimum number of products, I recommend making letters no longer than 1500-2000 pixels.

Mistake 7. Failed subject line

You can have a great email that has put a lot of effort and time into it, but a failed subject line can ditch all hopes of a great open rate.

Oddly enough, until now, in many articles on the Internet, I see advice like: “We are all little children at heart, and when you forbid a child something, he wants it. Try using a ban in the subject line, such as ‘STOP! Don’t open this letter! ’…” Or “People are always afraid of missing out on a good opportunity, you can play on it by indicating in the subject line:‘ There are a couple of hours left until the end of the promotion! Now or never! Buy URGENT!” All this does not work at all. The most that you can achieve with such “slogans” in the headers of your letters is dissatisfaction, irritation, and unsubscribing from the mailing.

Here are some tips for shaping your subject line:

  • Try to reflect the main essence of the newsletter in the heading of the letter and put it in five to seven words;
  • Use numbers in the title of the topic, customers like it. For example, “70% discount on goods for children”.
  • Use emoji if appropriate.


Summing up the results of our article, I would like to note that the bulk of mistakes made due to carelessness, hasty decisions, or just laziness;
Mistakes are typical, but this does not prevent them from being present in almost every second letter. We did not dive into the analysis of more complex mailing problems because we believe that by correcting the mistakes described by us in this material, you will already significantly increase the quality level of your letters.