deadly email marketing sinsThere are a lot of things that can go wrong with email marketing -- broken links, typos, unoptimized images -- the list goes on. If we step away from this detail-oriented mindset, however, we can understand and fix some of the bigger issues that are likely holding our email marketing campaigns back.

That's why David Meerman Scott has identified five deadly sins of email marketing. Read carefully, and make sure you avoid these awful email marketing mistakes!

1. Database Fails

There is nothing more painful than seeing “Dear <First Name>” as the greeting in your email instead of your real name. Oftentimes, this is a result of bad marketing automation and puts an emphasis on the lack of authenticity on the sender’s side. Make sure you are correctly mapping labels (First Name, Last Name, Company Name) to their values. Otherwise, you risk disappointing your community and losing email recipients.

2. Being Boring

“There is no rule that says that when you do email marketing, you have to be deathly boring,” says David. Instead, use exciting language and try to pique people’s curiosity with humor, controversy, or data. “Be somebody who tells a story,” adds David. Grab the reader's attention with the very first sentence by referring to data or something funny, controversial, or newsworthy.

3. Sending Product Information

There are too many organizations that only send emails about themselves and about their products or services. “If you try to tell a story, email marketing can be so much better,” David says. Make sure your messages deliver value to recipients.

Interestingly enough, this is true for other aspects of marketing—presentations, blogging, press releases, social media updates, etc. For all of them, you have to develop a voice that represents your brand and resonates with humans. Try telling stories about successes or failures in your industry. Or consider responding to frequently asked questions with hypothetical situations that can be helpful to your community.

4. Being Narrow-Minded

So many emails are all about selling. That is the only goal in mind, which is a very narrow-minded approach.  

Your email communication can actually have different goals—it could serve to spread announcements; help people with a common, industry-specific challenge; or extend new opportunities to an existing community of followers.  

“Send emails that educate,” David advises. If you're a sporting goods manufacturer, for instance, don’t just send emails that sell your equipment. Instead, try to teach people new techniques when it comes to working out. 

5. The Same Ol’ Timing

Don’t follow blindly how others in your industry are timing their email marketing. Test different times and days and, most importantly, do some counter-competitive timing. “Why not try something on, say, Friday morning?” asks David. Sending emails on weekends can actually bring you some high click-through rates and is something worth experimenting with.

What are some of the email marketing mistakes you have made and learned from?


Originally published Nov 15, 2011 7:30:00 PM, updated November 29 2018


Email Marketing Mistakes