It’s a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, and one we’ve all experienced at least once as marketers.

You’ve just pressed the ‘send’ button for your latest email marketing campaign and realised that it contains the worst mistake imaginable. It’s a horror show – an error that puts your business in the worst possible light and for which you’ll need to apologise unreservedly.

What follows is a second email containing said apology and much head scratching as to how on earth you let the mistake slip through in the first place.

Some mistakes aren’t quite as earth shattering as the above example, although they can be just as harmful. It’s these mistakes we’re going to concentrate on in today’s post, by looking at three big-time email marketing errors you’ll want to avoid.

1. Useless subject lines

Unfortunately, there’s no middle ground with subject lines – they’re either brilliant or useless. And while that might sound rather harsh, consider the fact that 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open a message based solely on its subject line. Get it right, and they’ll open it; get it wrong, and they won’t – it’s that black and white.

A bad subject line can be dangerous, too, with the worst offenders prompting the recipient to treat the email as spam, thus hurting the sender’s reputation by either consigning it to the spam folder or reporting the message.

Writing a brilliant subject line isn’t easy – and you should expect to spend the vast majority of your email marketing time constructing them – but it’s some of the best time you’ll spend.

See: Learning from Fleet Street: how to write killer subject lines

2. Bad list hygiene

What’s that smell? Ah – might be your subscriber list. Have you cleaned it recently?

Thankfully, you won’t need to turn to any form of cleaning agent in order to sort out your list – it just needs a careful, proactive hand in maintaining good hygiene.

As soon as you give up on your subscriber lists, they start to go stale. Remember – most emails that enter your list(s) will have done so via some form of opt-in process, and if you’re using anything less than double opt—in, you may be inadvertently collecting a whole bunch of fake addresses from scammers.

So, start by implementing double opt-in (mailingmanager makes this super-simple), but take time regularly to review your campaign results to suss out whether or not you’re receiving a significant number of bounces from specific addresses. Once you discover the culprits, it’s time for a spring clean; remove them and add them to suppression lists.

See: Busting Myths on Email List Hygiene

3. Poor (or non-existent) A/B testing

There’s no getting away from it – A/B testing adds a significant amount of time to your email marketing endeavours, and that means it often gets left behind.

This is perilous, because A/B testing is an essential element of every successful email marketing campaign. Therefore, if you’re not familiar with the process, we recommend checking out the two guides below to find out more.

If you are familiar with A/B testing but have found that it appears to have little to no effect on your campaigns, you might be doing one of the following:

  • Selecting a sample group that is too small. Take a look at the average open rates for your email campaigns and create an A/B sample group that should guarantee you just as many opens. In doing so, you’ll ensure the test is relevant enough to provide reliable results.
  • Too many variables. A common error, where an A/B test features far too many variables, thus skewing the results. Try and keep the elements you’re testing to a minimum of two or three. Even better, if you can focus the testing on just one, key element (say, the subject line), you’re likely to gain far more insightful results.

Always A/B test, and make sure you follow the two golden rules above.

See: A Guide to A/B Testing Your Email Marketing Strategies – Part One: What is it?

And

A Guide to A/B Testing Your Email Marketing Strategies – Part Two: What to Test

Wrapping up

There are, of course, plenty more mistakes one can make when sending an email marketing campaign, but the three above represent the most common. Keep an eagle eye on them, and you’ll give your email marketing campaigns the best chance of success.

About 

Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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