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You see it in your inbox everyday: terrible email marketing. Some are obviously bad, such as the PDF attachment, the sales-y promotion, and the giant image. They are well-intentioned, but the execution is all wrong.

Not all mistakes are that obvious. Here is a list of five mistakes that even some professionals make. Take a look. Are you making any of these email marketing mistakes?

1. Your email signup form stinks.

If your email signup form doesn’t have a call to action, why would anyone sign up? A great email subscription box tells people what they’re going to get: what topics and how often. If you’re not setting these expectations with potential subscribers, set your own expectations for subscriber rates low.

The signup form should appear right next to the best content on your site. This probably isn’t the footer of your home page. More likely, it’s at the bottom of your blog posts or on your about us page.

2. Your sender name isn’t a person.

There are only three factors that determine email open rates: timing, subject lines, and the sender name. The sender name is the easiest one to get wrong, but it’s also the easiest to fix.

People open emails from people. A brand name, no matter how trusted, isn’t a person. To connect with subscribers, be a person. Use an actual name as the sender.


Which of these three emails would you likely open?




Studies have shown that sender names have a bigger impact on open rates than subject lines, partly because they are visually more prominent. Sender names appear to the left of the subject line in most email programs.

3. Your emails aren’t mobile-friendly.

More than ever, email is read on phones. But many email marketers haven’t adapted, even though sending mobile-friendly email is very easy. Here are three basic guidelines:

1      Email templates should be one column, if possible. If it’s two columns, the main content area should be on the left, so visitors don’t have to scroll over to the right to read the content on their phones. Consider sending text-based emails rather than a fancy HTML template.

2      Everything that is clickable in the email should be a text link that is visible even if the visitor doesn’t download images. Beware of buttons, which are images and may not be seen.

3      Continue the phone-friendly experience on your website with mobile-optimized landing pages. Ideally, your entire site is mobile friendly thanks to a responsive web design.

4. You’re putting the full text in the email.

If visitors can see all the content in the email, they may read it, love it, and delete it, without ever visiting your site. This means no sharing, no comments, no reading other articles, no buying products, and no lead generation. You will have generated zero visits to your site.

Great emails are great teasers with great calls to action, just like the cover of a magazine. They entice visitors to go deeper, get engaged, and become more connected. Now you can measure more than just open rates. You can measure clickthrough rates (CTR), bounce rates, time on site, pages per visit, and conversions.

5. You’re not sending email often enough.

It’s a very common mistake, and one that many people can’t bring themselves to fix. There are two reasons people don’t increase their email frequency:

1.      Don’t have the resources
For some, the problem is finding the time, willpower, and help to create enough content. These people need to learn how to find content in unexpected places!

Or maybe you’re already creating the content. If you’re sending a quarterly email with 3-4 articles, why not send a monthly email with your best article?

2.      Don’t have the guts
For others, they just can’t bring themselves to increase their frequency. They’re afraid their subscribers will tune out. But they’ll never know for sure unless they try.

Have confidence in your content. You’re an expert with important lessons to share with your audience. Sure, most of your emails will be deleted and some people will unsubscribe. But the ones that remain will be more engaged than ever before. Honor their time and attention by sending great content. You’ll earn a larger list and tons more traffic as a result.

Easy Fixes

Each of these mistakes may cost you a lot of traffic. But none of them are difficult or expensive to correct. Make the simple fixes, and you’ll find that email is an extremely consistent and powerful marketing tool.

Need more help? Read email marketing secrets for more tips, including email timing, tracking email signup forms, and examples of high-performing signup forms.

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Andy Crestodina
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