Do you have any of these email marketing bad habits?

Do you have any of these email marketing bad habits? Nate Skinner, chief customer officer at Campaign Monitor, the leading provider of simple and elegant email marketing software for business, exposes some of the most common bad habits in email marketing


Email marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective strategies in terms of ROI, with some businesses attributing more than a fifth of their overall sales to email marketing.

But it’s not always as simple as getting your message from A to B, and in light of recent email disasters, it’s important to be mindful of what not to do as well as best practices.

Read on to find six common behaviours that marketers would be wise to steer clear of:

Emailing someone who didn’t ask for it

It might be tempting to send your company’s latest newsletter to everyone you met at that conference last week, but this isn’t a good marketing tactic.

Ideally, your distribution list should only include people that want to hear from you. It’s better to email 1,000 subscribers who are interested in your business rather than 5,000 people who haven’t asked to hear from you.

It’s quality over quantity, with research showing that marketers who use an opt-in strategy secure a 55% increase in click-through rates.

To ensure your long term email list health, I’d suggest having a double opt-in policy, which means that a subscriber has to confirm the subscription via email after signing up (this will validate their email address as well as guaranteeing their interest).

The scatter-gun approach

Don’t fall into the trap of ‘scatter-gunning’ your emails. It never works.

Emails need to be highly targeted, so segmenting your list is key to maximising engagement with your messages. The benefits can be lucrative – the Direct Marketing Association reports a 760% increase in email revenue for marketing campaigns that are sent to segmented lists.

Below are some key variables to think about when segmenting your recipient list:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Geographic area
  • Job role
  • Industry
  • Buying behavior
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Point in buying cycle

Your segmentation strategy will depend on your sector and business, so think carefully about what your company is trying to achieve and use this to define your segments.

Sometimes less is more

Nothing is more annoying than receiving a flood of emails. In fact, research shows that 69% of US email users unsubscribe because the company sends them too many emails.

If your sign-up form promises that you’ll send out tips or newsletters on a monthly basis, and then you start emailing your subscribers once a day, they’ll likely unsubscribe as you are violating your promise.

If you do decide to change the frequency, it’s best practice to communicate this to subscribers beforehand and let them decide if they want to receive more email from your company.

You can use an email preference centre to manage this, which allows your email recipients to change their own subscription details.

How often is too often? There is no one-size-fits-all, but according to our own research, sending an email every two weeks is typically the sweet spot for subscriber engagement.

Heading straight for the spam box

Subject lines are hugely important and if not done right they can really hold back a marketing campaign.

Any emails that offer false advertising claims or ‘special offers’ will likely be interpreted by the ISP as untrustworthy and moved to the spam folder.

No matter how much you want to lure your subscribers to click, it’s never worth lying to or misleading them.

To get you started, we’ve collated some phrases and symbols to avoid when crafting your subject header – these will land you in the junk mail:

  • Money back guarantee
  • Requires initial investment
  • Buy direct
  • Money order
  • Earn £
  • As seen on
  • £££

“I can’t find the unsubscribe button”

It’s worth noting that it is UK law to include an unsubscribe or opt-out button in a marketing email.

Email marketing software like Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp can help prevent your company from getting into hot water, ensuring that every email sent has a valid unsubscribe link while also managing the removal of unsubscribes.

Emails which include a very small or barely visible unsubscribe link – while not breaking the law – will do you no favours. It will simply irk your customers, leading to more unsubscribes, and will prevent you from segmenting your email list as effectively.

Where’s your CTA?

A call to action (CTA) is the all-important ‘next step’ in recipient engagement. Every email needs to have a clear CTA that allows subscribers to easily follow through with an action, whether that’s a hyperlink to your website or a bright button that takes you to a purchase page.

Forgetting a CTA is like serving an empty plate for dinner. You’re missing the key ingredient.

Here are some extra tips when crafting a CTA:

  • Use urgent language
  • Use a button or a small graphic to draw attention
  • Use a different colour for the CTA to make it stand out
  • Make sure the link works easily and first time

Whether or not you are guilty of committing these email marketing ‘sins’, it’s worth bearing them in mind.

As long as you’re on a mission to strengthen engagement and reputation (aren’t we all?), now is the time to ensure you’re connecting with your customers in the right way.

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