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Fix These Email Marketing Mistakes To Get More Opens and Fewer Unsubscribes

As a marketer, you’re likely aware that email marketing has one of the highest potential engagement rates and a very high return on investment (ROI). For every $1 you spent on email marketing, you see an average of $32 ROI. Bottom line: a strong, email marketing strategy will make your company money at a low investment cost. Yet, many brands struggle with underwhelming open rates or find their number of unsubscribes is more-than-desirable. That’s completely normal. If you want to wow your subscribers

There are many mistakes that you may be making without even realizing it that can significantly lower your open rates and cause recipients to hit the dreaded unsubscribe button. What’s worse is that you may not even realize you’re making them. Avoid making the 31 following common email marketing mistakes to achieve the incredible engagement, skyrocket your open rate, and decrease unsubscribes for your email campaigns.

1. No Consistent Brand Voice or Inconsistent Brand Voice

Before you think about content, message or subject line, you need to sit down with key members of your team and really craft and establish your brand voice. Every single message you send out, from the subject line to the final call to action (CTA), needs to resonate with readers in your distinctive brand voice.

2. Inconsistent Design

When considering how important it is to establish a consistent brand voice, know that your brand “voice” isn’t necessarily entirely verbal. Design plays a major role. Color consistency alone improves your brand’s recognition by around 80%. Establish a signature color for your company’s marketing that jives well with your logo and then select two or three additional colors to weave in. Similarly designed emails contribute to brand voice by becoming recognizable and associated with your brand over time, creating a more cohesive strategy and making a greater impact.

3. Unengaging or Inconsistent Imagery

Modern email marketing should take an image-centric approach when it comes to design. While the message and CTA are what drives the goals of your email marketing home, imagery is what captures the eye and keeps the reader engaged in your content and leads them to move further through the marketing funnel by clicking your CTA. Just like the overall email design, imagery is also part of your brand and it should be consistent. Images should represent your overall brand voice and tone. They should encourage the reader to engage with you. Consider putting together an “image bank,” of images that represent your brand and suit your overarching marketing goals.

4. Lack of Personalization

Exceptional branding isn’t effective if there is a lack of personalization in your email campaigns. The average person working in an office gets around 121 emails every day. Think about how many of those are instantly deleted. One of the main reasons is that emails don’t feel relevant to them personally, so they delete because it doesn’t seem worth their time when other emails do. Send enough non-relevant emails and they’ll be looking for the unsubscribe button. Strike the perfect balance between making your emails relevant and keeping consistent messaging with one strategy: segmentation.

5. No List Segmentation or Sending to the Wrong Segment

Segmenting your email list allows you to tailor your messages to appeal to the characteristics of each segment. You can do this based upon what messaging users have responded to positively in the past. One segment might be all about the deals, clicking through whenever you offer a percentage off or a flash sale. Another segment might open emails with subject lines relating to new items or new offers. Segmenting your list makes each recipient feel like the messaging is relevant to them personally. Any high-quality email platform will have this capability built-in.

6. Generic CTA

The CTA is the highly important element of an email where you are asking potential leads (people who have opened your email), to take an action that will hopefully guide them to the conversion stage. The better the CTA, the higher the chance you have to maximize ROI. Skip the “Click Here” and “Shop Now” in favor of “Spice Up Your Summer Style,” or “Become The Coolest Mom In The Neighborhood.” Using power words and creating a positive mental image will increase your click-through rate and lower your unsubscribe rate.

7. Use Power Words

Utilize strong, power words to increase your chance of subscribers opening your emails. Power words create a sense of excitement. Examples of power words include:

  • Personalizing emails by starting with a first-name custom field
  • Invitation
  • Introducing
  • Update
  • New
  • Astonishing
  • Irresistible

8. Lack of Urgency

One simple mistake made in an email subject line that greatly decreases the open-rate is not creating a sense of urgency. If an email subject line reads “Shop Our Winter Sale,” it will receive a lower open rate than one reading “This Weekend Only, You Have Access to Our Winter Mega-Sale.” Note the sense of urgency created by starting with a time-stamp and also layering in power words like “access” and “mega.” With no sense of urgency, email recipients are more likely to move onto the next email, planning to open yours later, but likely it will simply get pushed down in their inbox as more emails stream in.

9. Dull, Lifeless Subject Lines

Email subject lines should capture the reader’s attention immediately. If you’re wondering why you have a low open rate, look at your subject lines first. Are you giving a reason that recipients should even bother to open your email and read further? These are dull subject lines and they can crush your open rate.

10. Over-Hyped Subject Lines

Every single person has seen a subject line or a headline that promises the recipient/reader they can earn a six-figure income while working 10 hours a week or lose 10 pounds in a week with a miracle product. These hyped-up subject lines are just as bad as dull subject lines. They are possibly worse because they reek of spam, increasing the potential for recipients to flag your emails as spam and, at the bare minimum, delete your email and have a bad view of your brand going forward.

11. Not Tapping Into the Power of the Welcome Email

Welcome emails have a massive potential to reach your customers due to their exceptionally high open rate. Welcome emails have a whopping 82.2% open rate and a 26.7% click-through rate. These staggering statistics make welcome emails your secret weapon to generate conversions right away. Eight out of every 10 recipients open your welcome email simply because they are expecting it. Additionally, they just expressed interest in your brand by subscribing, meaning that their interest is already piqued. Offer something special in your welcome email to engage new subscribers and make them feel special. Examples include a promo code, exclusive content, or first-time buyer special.

12. No A/B Testing

It is crucial to take advantage of using A/B testing to monitor what your subscribers are responding best to. You can test almost any element of your email campaign, including subject lines, imagery, design, messaging, time of day sent, and much more. Results collected by your Content Management System will give you deep insight into what works best so you can modify your email marketing strategy to resonate better with your email list.

13. Not Monitoring Best Send Times

Timing is everything when it comes to marketing, especially digital marketing. Closely monitor the analytics provided by your CRM to determine when your specific list has the highest open rate: what time of day and what day of the week.

14. Avoid Verbiage That Will Send You To the Spam Filter

Modern spam filters are highly intuitive. Don’t get flagged as spam by using subject lines that contain spam trigger words like “open,” “buy,” “earn,” clearance,” etc.

15. Always, Always Optimize for Mobile

Any major email platform worth their salt will have the option to review a mobile view. When you are editing your email, don’t forget to review/edit the mobile view.

16. Diving Into An Ask Before Earning It

When someone chooses to open your email, they have responded positively to your subject line and given you their precious time. When you ask for even more, an action, without telling them why they deserve for you to take that action, you may find yourself looking at an unsubscribe. Tell them why they should take that action and show them the value you can provide before you make the ask.

17. Failure to Meticulously Track Campaigns

One of the best things about marketing’s transition to the digital space is that nearly everything is completely trackable. If you want to see success from your email marketing campaigns it is crucial to track a variety of metrics. For example, a tracking program will help you identify what headlines get the most open rates and what messaging gets subscribers to click through once the email is opened. You can also see what email campaigns are deleted without opening. Most quality CRM software platforms have built-in tracking tools that make it easy to meticulously track nearly anything that will benefit future campaigns.

18. Sending Too Many Emails

Think back to the statistic that found the average working person gets around 121 emails a day. This is a very common mistake that brands make. You think about your business the majority of the day, even nights and holidays you likely have your business on your mind. However, your email subscribers don’t. They don’t wake up every day wondering if your clothing company is offering 30% off, and they certainly don’t want to hear from you via email if you aren’t offering something or bringing value to their life. Keep your emails purposeful and in moderation will keep your recipients from heading right toward that “unsubscribe” button.

19. Lack of Curiosity

Entice curiosity with your subject line to drive more email opens. Create curiosity by walking the line between being a bit vague and being just plain cryptic.

20. Lack of Meticulous Editing

Before hitting send, your email should be edited extremely closely, and not just by one person. As an owner or marketing leader, establish a set chain of editing that should be done before you come close to hitting the send button. Mistakes in subject lines, links, messaging, or imagery can lead to unsubscribes.

21. Not Taking Time to Keep Your Email List Clean and Tidy

Over time subscribers on your email list can go stale. People may have signed up from a work account and switched jobs, or they may just no longer be interested in your business. Gauge what counts as a “stale” subscriber (ex: not engaged in an email in over a year), and remove them or put them on a segment that rarely receives emails.

22. Not Allowing Subscribers a Choice of What Emails to See and How Frequently

When someone first signs up to receive emails from you, it instantly makes them feel important to you when you ask them their personal preferences regarding what type of emails they would like to see. Would they like a monthly newsletter only, daily e-blast, or only flash deals?

23. Overly Formal Tone

Today’s email campaigns have become increasingly informal, even jokey. Unless your company requires formality, such as a healthcare system, don’t be afraid to be informal to encourage more opens.

24. Keep Content Consistently Amazing

Did you know that what is inside your email actually contributes to the open rate? Getting a high open-rate is only half the battle. Impressing your readers with engaging, relevant content will make them more likely to open the next email you send.

25. Don’t Be Too Stuffy

Don’t write like a corporate business leader; write subject lines and content like you are speaking to a friend. This appeals to readers and attracts them to open your emails.

26. Layer in Some Humor

Humor has the power to make an instant, lasting connection with people by being entertaining. It also helps people to remember the brand and its message. Injecting humor into the subject line and the internal messaging will generate a desire by that subscriber to open the next email you send, and the next, and the next…

27. Video? Video? Bueller?

With video becoming an increasingly powerful marketing tool, many companies are still hesitant to include video as part of their email marketing strategy. They shouldn’t be! Email is powerful and can increase open rates since a person may not want to read an article, but they may be willing to devote 1-2 minutes to watch a well-made video.

28. Link Issues or Technical Issues on Your Website

No matter how smart or seasoned of a marketer you are, it’s inevitable you’ll send out an email campaign containing some type of internal error. Perhaps a link was broken or simply bad, or maybe your website or landing page was temporarily down. Hey, it happens. If you find that this happened, simply send a follow-up email to the segment that opened the list apologizing and offering something of value.

29. No Mistake Plan in Place

As mentioned above, mistakes happen. While every marketer hopes they won’t one of the biggest mistakes that can lead to an increase in unsubscribes is not having a mistake plan in place. Sit down with the team and establish a set plan of what you will do in the event of a mistake. This will ensure you aren’t scrambling, likely leading to further mistakes or mis-handlings, and leaving you prepared.

30. Domain Issues

Ensure you are sending from a verified domain to avoid spam filters. It’s as simple as that.

31. Buying Leads or Lists

Never, ever buy email lists. Not only is this 100% spamming, but any reputable email service provider can actively penalize you or even put your email account itself at risk of being permanently shut down. Remember, quality email addresses or lists are never for sale, and no one opens an email from a company they didn’t give permission to email them and thinks anything other than “that’s annoying!”

By avoiding these common, fixable email mistakes you can capture your audience’s attention, increase open rates, and watch your unsubscribe numbers drop significantly. You spend a lot of time and effort on creating incredible email campaigns that will engage your subscribers, don’t let a few available mistakes put your time and efforts to waste.

Thanks for reading "Fix These Email Marketing Mistakes To Get More Opens and Fewer Unsubscribes", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.

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