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In this comprehensive blog, we outline email marketing mistakes and proven ways to avoid them. Uncover new ways to engage your contacts and convert them into customers with email marketing.

Email marketing has stood the test of time because it helps brands engage with their customers. However, doing it wrong can hurt your business and damage relationships you've worked hard to maintain.

Email marketing mistakes can take two forms: process issues and email issues. In this post, we'll cover both and provide tips to ensure your email marketing stays out of the spam folder.

Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

  • Sending the Same Email to Your Entire List
  • Spamming
  • Designing Only for Desktop
  • Being Overly Commercial
  • Doing Everything Manually
  • Not Building Your Database
  • Not Creating a Schedule/Plan
  • Ignoring Past Performance

Sending the Same Email to Your Entire List

Sending the same email to your entire list is like screaming from a mountain top – someone might hear you, but you're so far away it's hard to relate. As we've mentioned before, successful marketers segment their list based on common traits or interests.

In this eCommerce email marketing example, try sending your female customers women’s clothing instead of men’s clothing. Targeted emails result in higher click-through rates because they are more relevant. 

Emails can be segmented based on two criteria:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics


Demographics include age, gender, language, employment status and more. Consider using this information to your advantage and sending your customer emails that apply to them.

You can also segment by region/location. This can be especially helpful if weather impacts your company and products. For example, customers in Florida will likely be less interested in heavy coats than users in New York.


Psychographics includes interests, behaviors and beliefs. Although these traits are often more difficult to isolate, looking through your customer purchase history can be a great place to start. This information will shed light on potential customer interests, activities they enjoy and more.


We'll keep this one short: please don't spam your lists.

Spamming is the quickest way to have users unsubscribe from your emails. Additionally, having too many users report your emails as spam can place your sending domain on a blacklist. Typically, 70% of spam complaints come from opt-in newsletters that recipients no longer want to receive.

To mitigate this issue, we recommend first looking at your subject lines. Avoid using all capital letters or excessive much punctuation, including exclamation points.

Additionally, evaluate if the volume of emails you send is too high. Bombarding your list with excessive emails can also cause your users to unsubscribe or report you as spam.

This leads to our final point in this section: don’t hide your unsubscribe links. Hiding this button and your company information, such as physical address, will make your customers suspicious. Keep these things in your footer where your customer will expect them to be. 

Designing Only for Desktop

Although device open rates vary based on industry, HubSpot reports that 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices and 69% of users delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. Mobile optimization is especially important for consumer brands, which typically experience higher mobile open rates than other industries.  

Although email design is more limited than website design, we encourage a few basics to ensure your message renders beautifully on any display:

  • Make the template stack-responsive to accommodate mobile devices
  • Condense image sizes to increase load time
  • Include proper alt text with any images (in case they don't render)

Overall, creating a mobile-optimized email will improve the user experience and leave your customers happier. We also recommend testing in different email clients. HubSpot includes email client and A/B testing with their marketing plans, which helps brands easily see how their message will display across a variety of conditions.

Being Overly Commercial

Only sending promotional content can have two negative effects on your email audience:

  • Your audience will tune you out or unsubscribe
  • They won't buy full-price items because they know there will always be an email campaign around the corner

We are strong believers in the value promotional emails provide. However, we recommend interspersing these emails with other helpful content to create a well-rounded approach. For example, sending user-generated content, guides, downloads or multimedia content can help keep things fresh. Every business is different, so we encourage you to evaluate content that your customers will find useful. Remember that above all else, you should provide value.

Doing Everything Manually

Doing everything manually is both tedious and impractical. However, we still come across businesses who aren't using email automation. 

Software tools like HubSpot help manage contact lists, automate email distribution and collect leads in one place. You can also schedule email send times based on time zone to maximize impact. 

Additionally, brands who automate their emails can also run A/B tests to determine email subject lines, messaging and imagery that best relates with their audiences. 

HubSpot will analyze performance based on either open rates or click through rates and determine a “winning” version to send. You can set time limits on the test so that the emails are automatically sent when you want them to go out.

If you aren't automating your email outreach, we highly encourage you explore our related blog about eCommerce automation here. 

Not Building Your Database

There is a direct correlation between the quality of your email list and the quality of your email performance. As a result, we encourage each of our clients to cleanse and grow their contact lists over time.

To increase the size of your list, consider implementing calls to action, pop-up elements and forms throughout your website and landing pages. We've seen brands attract new contacts with newsletter signup discounts, content downloads or contests.

We encourage you to get creative and try different tactics to see what resonates with your audience. 

Not Creating a Schedule/Plan

Just like a gym membership, they key to email marketing success is consistency. When you establish a reliable cadence, your subscribers will get used to receiving your correspondence and become more open to engaging. 

Although you won't need to schedule every email you send, we recommend creating a general distribution cadence for your email marketing. Once you have your team on board, try your best to stick with it and adjust as you go. Whether you create a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly plan for your emails, establishing a plan upfront will help you convey clear messages that don’t repeat or contradict each other.

Ignoring Past Performance

They key to learning from your email marketing mistakes is to recognize them. We recommend regularly reviewing your email marketing performance to evaluate areas for improvement.

In addition to running A/B tests, you can evaluate different email performance over time. Consider what worked, what didn't and areas where you can adjust to maximize impact in the future. Ultimately, learning from your mistakes will help improve your email marketing campaigns so that they can be as successful as possible.


Whether you're just getting started with email marketing or are a seasoned pro, avoiding email marketing mistakes is the first step to supercharging your next campaign. 

Have any questions or comments? Leave us a comment in the form below and we'll be in touch!

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