How to Fail at Email Marketing



Inbox messages are being critiqued more than ever before and subscribers have begun to expect personalization from brands. As a marketer, it can be difficult to navigate the evolving email landscape. More often than not, you’re told what you should be doing instead of what you shouldn’t. Now you must be wondering what gigantic mistakes you might be making. Let us provide you with a list of what to avoid when developing your email strategy.

Unpersonalized Content

Email is moving away from the generic batch and blast approach, as it was traditionally executed in the past. As I alluded to before, customers expect brands to use the data being collected to better target them. It’s our duty to curate relevant, targeted messages. The best part of all is that dynamic personalization is now within reach for all marketers. Most email service providers offer these features for free or at a low cost, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.

Pro Tip: For a step beyond personalization, solutions provided by vendors such as Moveable Ink allow for content alteration post-send. Meaning the email content can literally change after it hits the customer’s inbox and after every open. Use cases for this include sale countdown timers, weather forecasting, and device targeting. Pretty amazing, right?



Non-Permission Based Lists

Sending an email to someone who hasn’t subscribed isn’t just bad etiquette, it could potentially be violating CAN-SPAM, the law that regulates email. Each violation is punishable by up to $16k in fines. Most importantly, it’s bad for branding. First impressions count; don’t show up at the party without an invitation.

Lists can also go stale after a period of time without contact, so it’s important to email your subscriber base regularly. This helps to prevent subscribers from reporting your email as spam. Have a hard time letting go? Reconfirm permission by asking users to opt in again before removing the old subscriptions from your list.


“Dirty” Lists

In addition to requesting permission, database hygiene is a critical part of maintaining a healthy list. Scrubs of inactive subscribers, lapsed customers, bounces and invalid email addresses should be part of your email program’s monthly routine. Poor list management can have harmful effects on sender reputation, which is what determines whether your emails get delivered to inboxes or spam folders. 72% of the world’s emails fall into the spam folder, make sure yours isn’t one of them.


Infrequent or Excessive Cadence

One of the biggest questions marketers have is how often they should be messaging a particular list. The short answer is: whenever you have relevant content given their interaction with your brand. Three emails in a given day may sound like too much, but if the customer made a purchase on your website, it’s probably appropriate.

Through segmentation, it’s possible to pull lists of those hyper-engaged to send them more content than less-engaged subscribers. Better yet, allow subscribers to choose their desired frequency in the preference center.


Bad Timing

One of the best ways to make sure your email is opened is by sending at a time when your audience is actually reading email. Otherwise, you run the risk of your message becoming buried in the inbox. In general, open rates peak in the morning around 6am.

Timing is critical because opens generate clicks and clicks lead to conversions.

Keep in mind, the window of email activity will vary based on your industry. To provide an example, for most B2B organizations, it might make sense to send on a weekday morning. As with any other change you make to your email marketing program, it’s important to A/B test as every contact list will respond differently.

Well, you did it! You’re well on your way to becoming a better email marketer, or at least you’ve learned some of the things to avoid. Just remember, email is about the subscriber, and having their permission to receive content from your brand is a privilege. Now go out and win at email marketing!

Recommended for you:

5 Email Campaigns Your Hospitality Brand Should Try

Email Etiquette: What Your Email Sign Off Says About You

Successful Email Marketing through Audience Segmentation

How to Crush it on Social Media

Leave a Reply