Ten Common Email Marketing Mistakes That Are Easy to Sort!

client processes customer experience email marketing personalisation tagging Jan 07, 2021

Whilst working with clients and indeed just using the web like everyone else does, I continue to be surprised how the same common email marketing mistakes keep coming up, over and over! And what's even more surprising is that these mistakes are super-easy to sort and change to something way more effective. 

So, here's my top ten mistakes that I see EVERYWHERE - along with how to solve them. Don't be the one making such mistakes - you have no excuse now!

1. GDPR - Text for your sign-up form

Once I point this one out to you, you'll start seeing it everywhere too - but do sort out your form so your website is not one of them! The number of sign-up forms on websites that either have no disclaimer text or wrong text is amazing. 

If your form is ONLY gathering email for marketing purposes (eg to get a freebie, or a newsletter, etc), then use this disclaimer text underneath your form "Your data will only be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy" - and have it link to your current privacy policy. Make sure your policy has a section about 'How we use your personal data'. This stuff is important but it's not difficult - just use the text above and you can hold you head high!

2. Welcome and follow-up

Again, despite advice all over the internet, it is surprising just how many sign ups don't have any kind of welcome/follow-up process. This is just bonkers - email marketing is all about building relationships and community, and great first impressions are vital for an ongoing relationship; we want to build excitement and a sense of anticipation through our first emails - and yet, there are businesses out there that are still not doing it right, or worse, not doing it at all!

So here's how to solve this one. Your website sign-up form will add you contact into your email marketing platform. Some platforms can add a tag at this point, which I would recommend - for example 'Newsletter'. Now you build an automation (or sequence) that either starts with your form being submitted or that tag being applied. Add a wait condition for around 5 or 10 mins. The next step is to send an email. This is the welcome email - thank them for joining up; look forward to the future; what your contact can expect going forward; how often you are in touch. Ask them a question - what would like me to write to you about? What is your favourite product I sell? (This encourages conversation and engagement). 

Then you add a wait for 3 or maybe 5 days. And then send another email - this time giving them a discount code. This is the follow up.

A full welcome sequence can be 5 or sometimes 7 emails but it doesn't have to be that complex. What I've outlined above is enough to get the ball rolling. You could also add conditions on the follow-up email (the discount one) to send a third email to those that haven't opened the discount code email ("Don't miss out - I really want you to use the code before it expires! It's an exclusive offer only available to my subscribers - so take do take advantage of it!")

3. From you - not a [email protected]

This gets me every time - you want to build a relationship and the email address instructs the contact not to use the email address?!! 

You want conversation and engagement, as mentioned before. So that means first names basis - even if you don't want to use your own name, or personal email address as the 'reply to' (which you can set in your email marketing platform. 

Easy solution - create a new email address that is only used for email marketing. It could be [email protected] or [email protected] - whatever works best for you - and then always, ALWAYS, sign off as you, in the way you normally sign off in your emails.

It means your emails - whether they are automatic or part of a newsletter kind of campaign, will be genuine and authentic - which of course builds another important element of email marketing and community development; trust.

4. Personalise

Related to signing off by name, you should also greet by name too! I recently signed up for 6 email lists and only 4 actually sent me a welcome message. Of that 4, only 1 used my first name. One of the key things about email marketing is to make it relevant - so you use the contact's name because that means it's relevant to them. But then going forward you will use whatever data you collect through the relationship and to help make emails even more relevant and meaningful; for example I might only ever buy blue jumpers from you. So when you get a new design of blue jumper in stock, you can email and say "Hi Neil - guess what; we have an amazing new blue jumper in stock we think you will love!"

Now that is going to get my attention and I am going to think how good you are thinking about me and what I like.

5. Encourage conversation

I always ask my clients to map out the customer journey in their processes (email and otherwise)  and then think about what the experience will be for that customer.

6.Not all about sales

One of the lists I signed up for sends me 2 or 3 emails a day with just sales content - not even personalised. I am not warming to this as a potential customer because it's clear the sender is only interested in sales and not interested in conversation. Which is weird actually, because the person behind this is a minor celebrity and is great at encouraging conversation in social media!

So I'll be using the unsubscribe button soon...

This is easy to avoid though - just calm the sales messages down; break them up with 'did you enjoy the freebie? - what value did you get from it?' or 'I see you've been on my list for 6 months now - thanks so much for your support; I really appreciate it'. Ask questions - encourage conversation.

7. Think about mobile

You've probably seen this one too - email text on mobile device is too small, or the images are too wide or the text column is only like 3 words wide and is about 2 miles long as a result! 

Solution - send yourself a test email and view it on your mobile device. Do not use anything less than 16pt text. This still looks fine on desktops, but is much better size on mobile devices.

8. Not segmenting

So many times you see emails that are 'blunderbuss' campaigns - a blast to a whole list. That used to work. It doesn't anymore - because of domain authority and reputation on one hand, and relevance on the other.

Sending out to a whole list will inevitably get a high rate of non-opens or non-clicks - the email providers see this and over time can see how people are engaging with you through email. If they see nothing, repeatedly, then they could start sending your emails to people's spam or promo folders. Also you want people to read your email and content too!

If you make your emails relevant then you will increase the open and click rates because you are sending to a subset of your whole list - eg sending only to the ones who buy blue jumpers. 

This is done with segmenting - sub groups of your whole list. Customers for example would be a segment of your whole list - ie not everyone on your list is a customer. (My blog post here goes into this in a bit more detail.)

So - don't blast; focus on a segment, make it meaningful and relevant to that segment and send. Oh and always look at your stats (the opens, clicks, etc) - lots of great data in there to help fine tune your email strategy.

9. Not having a call to action of some kind

If you are sending an email out to your list at least make it easy for them to do what you want! For example, if you want people to come visit your newly designed website, don't ask to 'drop by and hello' - give them a lovely big button that says 'VISIT THE NEW WEBSITE'.

Similarly - always make an offer of some kind; it doesn't have to be to buy something; but it could be a link to a blog that gives a discount or describes a new service - and yes sometimes, remind them that an offer is still active and available.

10. Surveys (the big secret 😉)

The common mistake here is that people just aren't using surveys! They are amazing at capturing data about your contacts that you don't currently have - and people love them; everyone has opinions and they love being asked to give them - surveys capture all that data deliciousness.

Send your list an email with a link to a survey (Google does really good free ones) that asks for feedback about your service or brand or content - make sure you have extra fields like 'any other ideas you'd like see me discuss/cover/design?' or even just 'any further thoughts?' - whilst this information will not go into your email platform it will be solid gold in guiding what content you can create for future email activity.


There you have it - 10 common mistakes that you now know how to avoid; so go do it! I hope they help you develop great engagement and conversation with your community.


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