9 Common Email Marketing Mistakes – Which Are You Making?

email copywriter typing on keyboard at computer

The fact that you landed here means you care quite a bit about the quality of your email marketing campaigns.  

Which means you want to know if you’re making any of the most common email marketing mistakes. 

The problem is…

… you don’t know what you don’t know. 

And what you don’t know could be hurting your conversions.

Here are the 9 most common email marketing mistakes I see in many campaigns.

1. You Don’t Have a Welcome Sequence

Imagine for a moment you go to a restaurant with your best friend. 

You walk in the door and you’re hunger level has reached I-hope-they-have-a-bread-bowl-or-I’ll-eat-the-napkins. 

You’re expecting a hostess to greet you, a waiter to seat you, and a menu to choose your meal.  

Instead, you’re looking around for someone… anyone who looks like they work there. 

When you finally spot someone, they point to a dirty table near the kitchen with barely a glance in your direction. 

You’re not even sure they’re talking to you.

You sit down and there’s no menu. 

No one brings you drinks. 

All of a sudden a waiter appears. You feel a spark of relief.

He plops cold pizza down on your table, hands you the bill,  and walks away.

You’ve had a terrible first impression and you already know you will likely never come back.

Like hell if you’re paying the bill Rudy McRude-erson gave you a moment ago.

That’s the experience you’re giving your subscriber when you don’t have a welcome sequence. 

You invite them to your list, but when they arrive, you don’t show them around. 

And if they happen to join your list in the middle of a promotion, they’ll be getting sales emails without even getting to know you first. 

And worse, if you haven’t worked out what your subscribers really want from you and your offer is meh, you may as well give them cold pizza and hand them the bill. 

The welcome sequence is your handshake. 

It’s your first impression. 

It’s your hostess showing them what to do next and what to expect from you.

Where to go, and how you can help. 

It’s a critical opportunity for them to warm up to you, build connection, trust, and relationship. 

Need a welcome sequence? Click here to see my services page to see how I can help you win over your subscribers.

9 Common Email Marketing Mistakes text overlay on Pinterest image of woman typing.

2. Talking About Yourself WAY Too Much

This is one I see in almost every email marketing audit I perform. 

Your subscriber only cares about you as it relates to what THEY want. 

I’m going to say it again. Grab a pen and write this down.

Your subscriber doesn’t care about you!

They ONLY care about you as it relates to how it can help them.

I may sound cruel, but if I had a glove that said “YOUR SUBSCRIBER DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOU!” written on it, I would be slapping people left and write with it.

They don’t need to know every detail about how you started your business, why you started it, and every thought you had along the way.  

What they are looking for in your story is proof of your authority, experience, and relatability.

Essentially, they want to know if you’ve got what you need to help them solve their problems.  

That’s it!

I’ll often see the first email in a welcome sequence describing in painful detail why the business owner started the business, where they went to school, what thoughts they had along the way. 

Stop doing that!

Business owners are proud of what they’ve accomplished and they love telling their story. If the conversation was in person, your potential customers may be interested.

>>> When it comes to email, subscribers have hundreds of emails coming through.

They are busy, and they have limited attention spans. 

You need to strip your message down to the bare bones and give them ONLY what they need to see to know, like, and trust you. 

3. No Clear Call to Action

Email copywriter sitting at desk typing. Plant, newspaper, lamp and coffee on the table around her.  9 common email marketing mistakes.

Psychologically, we are all waiting to be told what to do. 

You may have written a perfect email, but you’re losing conversions if you’re not telling your subscriber what they need to do next.  

I’ve seen well written emails that do a phenomenal job selling, then fall flat with no call to action.

So you’ve meticulously crafted a perfect email, but you haven’t asked them to take the next step. 

Imagine a salesman doing all the work to sell and instead of asking for the sale, they just walk away and hide in their office.

Don’t be the scared salesman.

Ask them to take action.

4. Too Many Options

Many businesses use what I call the “drinking from a fire hose” emails. 

They separate emails into sections and load every section up with links to what they are selling.  

If your email list is big enough and engaged enough, you’ll still make sales this way.  

But… too many options causes decision fatigue.  

If you give too many choices, your subscriber becomes overwhelmed.

Some of my favorite online personalities do this.  I adore these people, but when I read their emails, I give up reading fairly quickly. 

I like to use the rule of one (most of the time, there are some exceptions).  

Each email should have ONE job.  Not ten. 

*Some of these people may have tested using more links and figured out that this is the way their subscribers enjoy receiving emails.  It all depends on your list.  Testing and adjusting are crucial to your email marketing success. 

5. What’s the Reason?

Email copywriter sitting in chair in front of of curtained window. 9 common email marketing mistakes.

You know you should build an email list.  You know you should be emailing your subscribers. 

But do you know WHY you’re emailing them?

I see this way too often in the blogging space. 

I get a LOT of emails with new blog post notifications.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but your subscribers want to hear more from you than that.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • Big brands who send only sales or promo emails
  • Bloggers who don’t email their subscribers except when they have a new blog post
  • Small business owners who only send blog style “3 Steps to…” emails

This is one of the reasons I do quarterly content planning as a service. (Click here to see more about email content planning sessions.)  

Many businesses don’t seem to understand why they are emailing AND the power of their emails. 

Take some time to figure out the why behind every email you send. 

Are you nurturing your audience?

Are you selling something in a month and leading up to that sale?

Do you want your reader to follow you on social media?

Do you want your subscriber to respond to your email and create a deeper connection?

Start with your call to action (your reason for emailing), or what you want that email to accomplish, and reverse engineer your email.

6. You Don’t Want to Sell (Huh?)

I’m shocked at how many time I come across this.

Businesses don’t want to seem too salesy in an email.

I completely understand not wanting to be an annoying salesperson, but subscribers have opted into your emails because they want to hear from you. 

You are doing this whole email thing to grow your business.

Your subscribers KNOW you’re a business. They know you’re selling stuff.

You don’t have to be a slimeball salesman to sell regularly in your emails. 

You can always give your subscribers the option of opting out of a sales sequence (hello, segmenting!!!).

7. You Think You’re Bugging Your Subscribers

Again, your subscribers have opted in.  

This means they’ve already said “YES, please email me!”  

The more you email, the more the subscribers who stick around will be your biggest fans.  

Worry more about what you can do consistently (and still provide good quality emails) than if you’re sending too many emails.  Chances are you aren’t. 

Subscribers don’t want to receive a lot of BAD emails. If your emails are good quality, entertaining, or give them something to look forward to, they aren’t bothered by your emails.

8. You Aren’t Segmenting

Email copywriter writing on a notepad with a cell phone, laptop, and another notepad next to her.  9 common email marketing mistakes.

When you hear the word segmenting, your brain immediately gets overwhelmed.  

It’s normal.

Take a breath.

Segmenting CAN be overwhelming.  But it can also be super simple. 

In my experience, sending sales emails to segments of a list that are highly interested in a topic leads to better conversions and fewer unsubscribes.  

Segmenting can be as simple as:

  • Tagging people who click on specific links for specific topics (ex. Tagging subscribers who click on links to a blog post about propagating succulents, then promoting your succulent ebook guide to them months later)
  • Identifying those who have come in from specific opt-in forms
  • Tagging subscribers who click but don’t purchase
  • Giving subscribers the option to segment themselves so they get a tailored experience
  • Setting up tags so those in a welcome sequence don’t receive newsletter emails or promo sequences
  • And so many more

Segmenting is a powerful tool to give your subscribers a high-quality experience rather than hoping they care about every topic you write about.

9. Forgetting About Analysis

Your subscribers are telling you what they want from you with their behavior.  

Every opened email, every click, every response tells you exactly what they want.  

If you set aside time monthly to analyze what’s working and what’s not you’ll see patterns in their behavior. 

These patterns will show you what products to create, what content to write, and what offers to promote.

Here are a few examples of what you can test and analyze:

  • Types of subject lines
  • Length of emails
  • Calls to action
  • Placement of passive links
  • Different hooks
  • Storytelling
  • Types of emails (educational, entertaining, inspirational, etc…)
  • P.S. content

If you haven’t done it in a while, head over to your email management program and analyze your results right now.

Which Common Email Marketing “Mistakes” Are You Making?

Did any of these common email marketing “mistakes” strike a cord with you?

Which strategies are you leaving out?

If you want help improving your conversions and growing your business with email, contact me to see how I can help.

Whether you need a welcome sequence, a content strategy, or just an hour to pick my brain, I’ve got something for every budget.

See my services here.

Kristi Durham

Kristi Durham


I'm Kristi

I help service-based businesses craft relatable email & lead generation campaigns so they can book more sales calls and pull in more clients.

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