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Email Marketing

How to avoid the common email marketing mistakes (for better conversions)

Let’s do a quick check to see if any of these avoidable email marketing fails are pulling your eCommerce business back or not.

How to avoid the common email marketing mistakes (for better conversions)

Let's talk about some of the most common email marketing mistakes.

You know email generates $38 for every $1 spent. You know it’s one of the best ways to communicate with your customers. Yet somewhere, you’re falling short of the results you’ve imagined.

Before you jump to random theories, how about pondering on this: are you unknowingly making some of the most common email marketing mistakes?

Even the best brands sometimes make the worst email marketing mistakes sometimes — hence this blog post :)Let’s do a quick check to see if any of these avoidable email marketing fails are pulling your eCommerce business back or not.

Common email marketing mistakes to avoid for better conversions

When it comes to email marketing mistakes, a few are more common than the others. Databox’s survey reveals broken links to be the most common email marketing mistakes. Immediately follows sending the wrong email and sending emails to the wrong list.

Common email marketing mistakes to avoid

However, while making mistakes is human, not sending a correction email or an apology email is unacceptable. It’s the least you can do to build a strong relationship with your subscribers. But don’t rely on an apology email too much. Instead, avoid all instances where you may have to send one.

1. Sending emails with wrong, broken, or missing links

We’ve all come across emails containing wrong or missing links. While it might seem a minor issue at the outset, one missing or broken link can cost eCommerce companies a ton of revenue.

Just imagine you’re running a sale on a product and you’ve sent a promotional email campaign but forgotten to add the link of the product. Do you think users would take the pains to go to your website to check out the product? Of course not. This is why scanning your email and checking for missing or broken links before sending a campaign is so important.

Ideally, email marketers should manually open links and check if they’re working. Make sure to send campaigns to other people in your team to verify them. In case you’ve happened to send an email with a broken link, fix it by sending an apology email with the right link. Giving your customers extra discounts and special offers is also a great way to compensate for your mistake.

Below is an example for Thinkific, a popular platform that enables people to create and sell courses. When they found they had added a broken link in one of their emails promoting an event, they sent out an email apology with the updated link.

Example of apology email for broken link email

2. Sending emails with typos

Nobody likes going through emails containing typos. Depending on the typo, it can either be harmless or significantly impact the success of your campaign. For example, a typo in the subject line can greatly impact the open rate.

Similarly, a typo in a product name means fewer clicks to the website. This is why proofreading the email body and subject line is crucial. In case of a time crunch, send test copies to different team members and ask them to review them for you. The more people reviewing, the better. Apart from finding typos, you might also receive additional feedback that will help you make the copy simpler for the reader.

Alternatively, tools like Grammarly can help you in ensuring error-free copy. An honest and genuine apology email can help your brand recover from an embarrassing typo.

Below is an example from Further who sent out an apology email for a typo in one of their newsletters.

Example of apology email for typo mistake

Something interesting to note: even when the mistake was made by one of their editors Trudi, the apology email was sent out by their Founder, Brian Clark. This shows how much they value their subscribers.

3. Sending emails with the wrong name or no name

Personalizing emails can significantly increase engagement. According to MarketingDive, personalizing email subject lines can lead to a higher open rate (as high as 50%!).

The same is true for the email body. In short, the more personalized campaigns you send, the better engagement you’ll get. However, since names and other details are so sensitive, even a small mistake like sending emails with the wrong name can greatly impact your campaign and your brand image as a whole.

Most email marketing tools allow you to preview your campaign. This allows you to confirm the first names according to the email. As a best practice, always try verifying at least three or four emails to be on the safe side. Note: If you’re not sure about the mapping of the name and email, it’s always better to send emails without the name.

4. Sending from do not reply emails

Do not reply emails like are perfect for sending very transactional messages like password reset, shipping updates, etc. However, for all other emails, you should use a normal email that allows users to reply to your email. Many users prefer email replies as means to ask a query and clear a doubt. This is because it’s hundred times easier than going to the website and raising a support ticket. For example, when an eCommerce company launches a new product, users can easily know more by replying to that email.

The same applies to a limited-time offer, sale, etc. Limiting these conversations can directly impact customer experience that in turn decreases conversions. Allowing conversations also means you need to reply to these emails as quickly as possible. To save time and ensure you're only replying to the right people, make sure to add spam filters. If possible, send emails using a persona of a real person — it’s surely going to get you more clicks.

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5. Optimizing emails for mobile

Not optimizing your emails for mobile devices will hugely decrease conversions and drive your subscribers away. Mobile as a platform is THAT critical for e-commerce companies. Reports suggest that over 70% of users will end up reading your email on their mobile phones. Hence to ensure all your subscribers are reading emails you need to optimize for mobile phones, right from the formatting to the size of the images.

Email open rate as per the device

Most email marketing tools including Engage provides you the feature to customize email for both desktop and mobile devices. This ensures you’re able to provide a flawless email experience irrespective of the device. Another cool hack you can use is to test your emails by sending them to a few of your colleagues and requesting feedback. While many email marketers ignore the importance of optimized emails, the truth is it directly impacts conversions.

6. Sending a wrong or incomplete email

Just imagine you’re editing an email campaign and you accidentally hit the send button. Or when you send an email to the wrong segment of users. Feels devastating right? While it sounds impossible, a lot of us are guilty of committing such a mistake. Oftentimes it’s due to negligence and a poor review process. However, even if you make such a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. You can still fix the situation by acknowledging your mistake and sending an apology email.

7. Forgetting to add CTAs

Without a call to action (CTA)s, emails are worthless. To get the most out of your email campaigns, attach specific goals to them. It can either be product awareness, clicks to a specific page, or any other goal. WIth reducing attention spans, the last thing you want is to leave your users to decide the CTA.

To increase conversions, add clear CTAs to your emails. The complete idea is to make it super easy for the user to make a decision.

Another common email marketing mistake eCommerce companies make is adding multiple CTAs in the same email. While you may think adding more CTAs will get you more clicks, that’s hardly the case. Rather than increasing the chances of click-through, it ends up confusing the subscriber and they aren’t able to take any decision at all. Emails with a single CTA are proven to can increase clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%.

8. Ignoring email segmentation

You know how a targeted email works a hundred times better than generic emails. Still, a lot of eCommerce companies make the mistake of sending the same campaign to everybody. The only way to fix this is by leveraging email segmentation. Each of your subscribers is an individual person. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce business online and you want to promote a necklace for women, targeting it to the women demographic makes more sense. Email segmentation can not only increase your engagement but also impact your revenue. Here’s what eMarketer's research can tell you about the power of email segmentation:

Results from email list segmentation

Whether you’re at 1000 subscribers or 1 million, you need to leverage email segmentation. There are multiple parameters on which you can segment a list including age, sex, interests, language, past purchases, website activity, and more. You can also segment on the basis of their email activity by tagging them. For example, for users who’ve opened an email promoting a product once, you send all these people a follow-up campaign. Below are a few parameters that you can consider for email segmentation:

  • Email engagement behavior (opens, clicks, etc)
  • Demographics (age, gender, location, etc)
  • Past purchases (last order date, recently purchased item, purchase history)
  • Source (organic, social, etc)

9. Hiding the unsubscribe link

As an email marketer, your job is to get maximum engagement on your campaigns and retention. But if you think you can achieve this by hiding the unsubscribing link or decreasing its font, you’re mistaken. It’ll do more bad than good. People still think having more subscribers is the key to increasing sales. However, the cleaner and the relevant the list is, the better. This is because more relevant subscribers mean higher engagement (and higher email domain reputation).

Remember, there’s no point in annoying subscribers by sending them emails they don’t want to receive. Additionally, there are multiple laws in different regions that instruct companies to include an easy opt-out option in the email and process these requests quickly. You can’t force users to ask for any fee or additional detail for opting-out of an email list. This is why it’s best to clearly highlight the unsubscribe button so that the irrelevant people eventually unsubscribe and leave.Here are few things you should avoid:

  • Making it difficult to unsubscribe - Ensure all emails you send as a brand contains an option that allows customers to easily unsubscribe.
  • Don’t try to hide the unsubscribe option -  Making the unsubscribe process clear is critical. For example, if you’re adding the unsubscribe link to the footer, don’t try to make the font smaller, rather you should highlight it by increasing the font size or bolding it. Don’t worry, doing this won’t affect your loyal subscribers.  
  • Using double opt-out - When a contact wants to opt-out from your list, there’s no point in confirming their action with another email. For a hassle-free experience, provide your contacts with a single opt-out option.

10. Not utilizing message previews

Most email marketing tools allow you to preview your email before sending it. This is to ensure the email campaign you’re sending looks and works the way you intended it to be. You can check things like formatting, links, image previews, and much more.

Even then a lot of companies neglect email previews and think it to be a waste of time. But it’s extremely important. It allows you to consistently provide a great experience to your users. Also, there’s no point in being overconfident and releasing your mistakes later (when you can’t correct them).

11. Sending too many emails

“Sending more emails will get you more conversions."

This is probably the worst piece of advice to follow in email marketing. It’s 2021 and the year you should ditch such advice. With users looking to clean their list to receive only relevant emails, sending multiple emails every day is a great way to lose them forever.

According to GetApp Lab, it’s the number one reason why users unsubscribe from email lists. While consistency is important, you need to give users enough time before sending campaigns. Here are a few ways you can follow to avoid sending too many emails:

  • Rather than sending one email campaign to everyone, try creating personalized email campaigns for different user segments.
  • Try to plan your email strategy for events such as Christmas beforehand to ensure you send a fixed number of emails at the right time.
  • Limit email promotions to 1-2 per week unless you’re running some special campaign.

However, there’s not a set rule on the number of emails you can send each day. The frequency of the emails completely depends on what you sell. For a D2C brand, the email frequency will be higher compared to an eCommerce brand that sells fitness equipment. Just try to find a balance and follow it diligently.

Reasons why subscribers flag emails as spam

12. Sending images with a cluttered display or too many visual elements

While visual elements really help make an email interesting and allow companies in conveying the message better, in most cases it creates a poor experience for customers. This is because:

  • Images increase the size of the email which directly increases the loading time
  • Triggers spam filters leading to poor deliverability
  • A lot of email clients have images turned off by default.

So should one skip images altogether? Definitely not! Images are important. You just need to use them in the right places and in a balanced manner. Here are a few best practices when using emails:

  • Use alt text - By adding alt text to images, users can get the idea of the image even when before it loads
  • Use compressed images - Leverage a tool like TinyPNG to compress images. This improves load speed considerably.

13. Making the copy too salesy

Salesy copies mostly get ignored. It’s a fact. Users never buy a product because of the brand, but for the value, it brings to the table. Salesy copies most times fail to bring that out. On the other hand, creating a copy that attracts, interests, and engages with customers will lead to higher conversions. For example, take a look at the 2 copies below. Which one appeals to you more?

Copy 1 - New Puppy or Kitten? Find everything you need to welcome them home!

Copy 2 - Buy Pet Products Online at 5% DiscountIf you chose the first copy, you’re on point. It’s clearly more engaging and welcoming compared to the second, which is too direct. If you’re planning to create engaging copies start with customer reviews and interviews.

This will get you more interesting ideas and understand the value the product brings to the customer that you can use in your copy.

14. Not adding a signup option

Even though it’s a very simple thing, many eCommerce companies forget to add a signup link on the email body or in the footer. Add it for a month and see the results for yourself. Most users have seen a significant jump in the number of registrants. It also acts as a nudge for interested users to visit the website and make a sale. Here’s how Plex, a global streaming service, redirects its subscribers to the signup page.

Email redirecting its subscribers to the signup page

15. Not focusing on email categories with high open rates

If you dig deep into the metrics of email campaigns, you'll notice that few email types get more open rates than others. For example, welcome emails get more open rates than promotional emails sent after two days.Here are the open rates for different email categories:

Email open rates by category

Not just open rates, choosing the right email category can impact your revenue too. Like, when a person who’s just signed up is more likely to buy from the website compared to anyone else. Hence, it’s important to distribute our efforts according to the email categories. This will help in getting maximum ROI from email marketing.

Correcting the common email marketing mistakes

Whether you’re an experienced email marketer or just starting out, the only way to avoid the common email mistakes is by first understanding what those are (which you’ve already done), creating processes to avoid them, and by having a backup plan. Below are few popular ways to help you avoid mistakes:

a) List out the common emailing mistakes

The best way to avoid mistakes is to list them somewhere and go through them before sending an email. Many companies create a checklist that contains all the popular email mistakes and ensures it's followed before sending any email campaign. This significantly reduces the chances of making mistakes.

b) Identify which ones needed to be responded to

It’s very easy to panic and overthink when discovering a mistake in your campaign. However, not every mistake needs an apology or a follow-up email campaign. Try to map responses for specific mistakes beforehand and stick to them. This will make things simplified and allow you to take action faster.

c) Plan for the worst email marketing mistakes

Do you have a plan B in case of an emergency? While you might feel that it’s impossible to make the above mistakes, the truth is that you can make them any day. The last thing you want is to think of a fix at that moment. The best way to approach this is to craft out a plan of action for all the mistakes. This way you’ll already know how to approach a problem and remove unnecessary thinking. Remember: the better prepared you’re, the faster you’ll be able to resolve a problem.

d) Send an apology email

The best way for a brand to fix an email marketing mistake is by sending an apology email. Making mistakes is human and even customers understand that. Surprisingly, nearly half of marketers don’t send corrections of apology emails. When you acknowledge your mistake, you show customers that you’re aware of the mistake and you’ll be taking actions to solve the problem. This reinstates customer trust. However, drafting an apology email is not easy. It requires a lot of thinking. Hence, to ensure you communicate with customers quickly upon making a mistake, have an apology email drafted. This way you can instantly send a campaign.

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e) A/B testing your email campaigns

A very underrated method of proactively discovering email mistakes is through A/B testing or split testing.

A/B testing is fairly simple and there’s a high chance that your current email marketing tool supports it. It’s as simple as creating two slightly different campaigns and tracking its results. That means if you divide the list into two and send a different campaign to each one.

You then compare the results (like click rate, open rate) to check which version performs better. It's the perfect way to check if your hypothesis is correct or not. So, for example, if you think adding more images to your campaign will get you more clicks, just A/B test a few campaigns to find out if it impacts CTR or not.

A/B testing will not only help you optimize your campaigns but also find the mistakes that are impacting your campaign. Remember, even a small change can significantly impact your overall conversion especially when you’re sending campaigns to a large list. Here are a few parameters you can test -

  • Subject lines
  • Length of the email
  • Content
  • Personalization
  • Visuals
  • Style of the email
  • CTAs vs no CTAs
  • Time

If you want to perfect your campaigns, A/B testing is a must. Just create a framework for split testing and then follow it. Remember, make a conclusion only when you have enough results.

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