Learning center
April 11, 2022

The Top 5 Most Common Email Marketing Mistakes

Email marketing has many benefits. It ensures the highest return on investment (ROI) among all direct channels of communication. It also supports customer communication without any added Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). There are, however, some common mistakes that companies can make, which can render all of a company’s efforts ineffective in developing its email marketing.

BizSecrety, a Tinkoff online media outlet, interviewed Philipp Volnov, Lead Manager for Mindbox, on the main email marketing mistakes he has encountered and some ways to correct them.

Mistake Number 1: Sending Everything to Everyone

Without the personalization and consideration of a customer’s interests, companies could be sending bulk mailings that inadvertently flood subscribers with unwanted offers or promotions.

For example, sending bulk mailings that advertise diapers to people who don’t have children or promoting products that a customer has recently purchased. This indicates how companies are not taking customers’ interests into account in mailing lists, nor considering that they may be using other company shopping channels. For example, a customer opens their messages in Viber, but has duplicate messages in their email inbox that aren’t viewed at all. This lowers the message open rate and may even cause these types of messages to be designated as spam.

To Correct the Mistake:

Replace some bulk mailings with tailor-made trigger scenarios. Also, remove a section of your customers from the bulk mailing list or try to personalize your bulk mailings.

Replace Some Bulk Mailings with Tailor-Made Trigger Scenarios. Trigger emails are those that are automatically sent to a customer when they take a certain action. A classic example of a trigger scenario is an abandoned cart email, sent when a customer has added items to their cart but doesn’t complete their purchase.

A customer added items to the cart but didn’t place an order—«Incanto», automatically sends the customer an abandoned cart reminder email.

Abandoned carts, abandoned browsing and other simple mechanics can be sent via the Bitrix CMS, or other relatively cost-friendly services, such as Carrot Quest or Convead.

An example of a more advanced mechanic is to send a discount to those customers who do open emails, but who do not visit the site for a period of time.

These types of mailings require a more sophisticated tool that can consolidate all of a customer’s information in one place. So, even with a small database, as long as it does not require any manual uploads from different sources and is stored in one place, you can quite easily make do with an inexpensive solution, at least initially.

Exclude some customers from mass mailings. For example, exclude those who have made a purchase within the last three days. This can be done manually, by importing the whole database and a list of recent customers into MS Excel. You can then delete these customers using the VLOOKUP function.

As soon as there are too many segments and mechanics, you can slow down the working process. Or, it may be more reasonable to connect an automation service with a system of filters.

Personalize your Bulk Mailings. One good option would be to enrich your emails with product recommendations that show only in-stock items and items that the customer hasn’t yet bought.

Another option may be to divide the database into segments. This means sending different letters, for example, but it depends on how long ago the purchase had been made.

segmenty inactive
for other segments
Mario Berluchi sends mailings with a promo code only to those customers whose last purchase had been some time ago. Other customers receive emails with the models popular during that month.

Mistake Number 2: Focusing on the Open and Click Rates, Instead of on your Revenue

The open rate and the click rate are indirect metrics that indicate whether a customer is interested in a brand or specific email content. However, they do not give a clear indication of how much the company is earning from those mailings on which to weigh a business’ success.

This is how these mistakes can be fixed:

  • Set up the UTM parameters in your mailing list;
  • Add a promotional code or a secret word to the mailing list.

Set up the UTM tags in your mailing list and analyze exactly how people make purchases using it. The UTM tags are added to the address bar in order to get detailed information about each traffic source. You can track your conversion using UTM tags in Google Analytics or Yandex Metrica.

For example, the link to an interview in Mindbox magazine contains the parameters showing that visitors used that link in an organic Facebook post. It ensures us that the material addresses the company culture: https://mindbox.cloud/journal/kultura-i-kompaniya/interview-rostislav-listerenko/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=culture

Add a Promotional Code or a Secret Word to your Mailing List. A customer can enter a promo code or secret word at checkout or when placing an order. This method is, however, not 100% accurate due to some customers making a purchase after getting an email, but then forgetting to use the promo code provided within the email. Nevertheless, it can help us to understand customer trends and compare how effective different mailings are.

subscription without purchases
customers with purchases
not opening emails
TOPTOP gives a promo code to different customer groups: subscribers who haven’t made any purchases, those who have bought something, and those who haven’t opened emails for over two months

Mistake Number 3: Sending Emails Too Often

It may seem that the more emails you send, the more revenue from mailing lists you will receive, especially if you have last-click analytics set up. That is, when the last channel with which the client had an interaction is counted. However, in reality, there may not be a connection, as there is always the possibility that customers will make a purchase without being reminded.

Additionally, aggressive spamming can lead to database burnout, where customers open emails less often, and therefore click on the links within them less often as well.

response rates

The dependency of the response rate on the mailing frequency. The more often you send emails, the less often customers open them. The graph focuses on Mindbox’s customers and their average data

How to fix the error:

  • Use a control group;
  • Pay attention to the open rate and the click rate.

Use a control group. For example, exclude some of your customers from the mailing list. This will allow you to compare the behaviors of the experimental group and the control group. This will then allow you to deduce whether mailings really do affect the conversion rate.

For companies with a large customer base, it is enough to exclude 5–10% of the base from communication. For a small business with an audience of several hundred or thousand people, it is reasonable to divide the base in half. Of course, this would be a loss of profit in the current revenue. We do, however, advise sending at least a few mailings and include the control group to make sure that they are effective.

Pay attention to the open rate and the click rate. If the click and open rates are lower, the base is likely to burn out. As stated above, click and open rate are indirect metrics. However, they suffice in providing a reason for customer fatigue from mailings.

Mistake Number 4: Sending Emails without Subscribers’ Consent, with a Database that You Have Purchased

Many people think that purchasing a customer base is a good idea because it is a quick and effortless way to start mailing lists. But, in truth, this is a big mistake as you could literally be buying anything, even randomly generated addresses. Even if the addresses are real, their owners do not know anything about your brand, may not be interested in buying your product, and did not agree to receive any mailings from you in the first place.

Moreover, your emails will most likely be automatically delivered as spam, filtered by either the host’s AI or the recipient themselves. This is especially important to note as the more spam mail a domain receives, the lower its reputation. So, the fate of the first email decides that of every mailing from your company thereafter. Meaning, if the first goes to spam, so shall every email from you that follows.

How to improve on the problem:

  • Make a pop-up with a promo code that your customers receive in exchange for entering their email address;
  • Filter out emails from a customer’s purchase history.

Make a Pop-up with a Promo Code, that Your Customers Receive for Entering Their Email Addresses. You can use static or dynamic pop-ups, which are easy to set up. You can do this with the help of developers or connect with a reasonably priced external service. For example, Popmechanic provides a free pop-up for websites that boasts up to 1,000 unique visitors per month.

popup furniture discount
game furniture discount
popup furniture discount
game furniture discount
The marketers of the MOON-Trade furniture store split tested the two pop-up variations: the Wheel of Fortune showed a 3.5X higher conversion rate

Remove Emails from a Customer’s Purchase Order History. A customer base is also considered historical data, and so you should work carefully with it.

eSputnik Testimonia

If a business has just started up, building a database for mailings is quite an easy process. Customers can subscribe and are then stored in the customer database. Customers will remember that they gave their consent to receive mailings and are therefore prepared to receive them.

At the same time, it is more difficult to work with a database that has not been touched for several years. If you send emails to all the customers from the database at once, it may negatively affect the domain, in which hosts such as Gmail or Yahoo will block your emails.

It is more worth your while to break up the database, for example, into 10 parts. You should then send emails in stages, carefully assessing the open, click, and unsubscription rates. This is called warming up the domain.

Additionally, it is important to consider the difficulties involved in restoring a dead domain. If you face this problem, contact postal services and relevant agencies, and change IP addresses appropriately. As this is a more time-consuming undertaking, it is better to do these things right from the beginning.

Anastasia Gorkaya

Anastasia Gorkaya, Regional Director, eSputnik

Mistake Number 5: Not Complying with Technical Requirements for Mailings

Email services have strict requirements regarding mailings. For example, to confirm that the sender’s server is authentic, a digital signature is required. If you do not have the right technical settings, your emails will automatically go to spam, where they will likely never be seen.

What to do in order to meet the requirements:

  • Set up the sender authentication and digital signatures;
  • Set up Postmaster Tools;
  • Gradually increase the volume of mailings.

Set up the Sender Authentication and Digital Signatures, Using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC:

  1. Clarify your SPF record that indicates which mail servers are able to send emails from your domain.
  2. Allow your DKIM signature to prevent spoofing when sending emails from your domain. Spoofing involves the changing of an email’s content by a hacker impersonating someone else.
  3. Publish a DMARC Record. This enables senders and recipients to automatically authenticate messages by identifying the sender’s domain. It also determines what to do with suspicious emails sent by scammers who are posing as you. If the email fails the DMARC check, then whatever action that has been instructed in the DMARC rule will be carried out. This can include marking the email as spam, rejecting it, or taking no action at all.

Set up Postmaster Tools. These are needed to gather data from mail services, such as Gmail, Mail, and others. They assess the potential for emails to be delivered.

The Postmaster Tools let you know:

  • How often your subscribers mark your emails as spam;
  • Why your emails are not delivered;
  • If the email identification is correct;
  • Your domain or IP reputation, and its effect on your email delivery rate.

It is important to use Postmaster Tools because not all mailers have deliverability data, and mail services may not provide a complete set of information. This means that collected statistical data may, in fact, be skewed.

Gradually Increase the Volume of the Messages You Send. If you have just started sending emails on your mailing lists or if you are working with a historical database, you should gradually increase the volume of messages sent while simultaneously monitoring the reaction of recipients in the postmaster. A sudden jump in the number of messages sent may lead to an increase in complaints from recipients.

Summary: Mistakes and Ways to Correct Them

Mistake number 1: Sending Everything to Everyone.

  1. Partially replace bulk mailings with tailor-made trigger scenarios;
  2. Exclude some customers from bulk mailings;
  3. Personalize your bulk mailings.

Mistake number 2: Focusing on Open Rate and Click Rate Instead of on Revenue.

  1. Set up UTM parameters in your mailing list;
  2. Add a promo code or a secret word to the mailing list.

Mistake number 3: Sending Emails Too Often.

  1. Use a control group that, for example, excludes some customers from the mailing list;
  2. Monitor the open rate and the click rate.

Mistake number 4: Sending Emails without a Subscribers’ Consent, with a Database You Purchased.

  1. Create a pop-up with a promo code that your customers receive for entering their email address;
  2. Remove emails from the purchase history.

Mistake number 5: Not Complying with Technical Requirements for Emails.

  1. Set up the sender authentication and digital signatures using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC;
  2. Set up Postmaster Tools;
  3. Gradually increase the volume of mailings.