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Regan Hall


Brand Management Digital marketing


October 01, 2012 - Regan Hall
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Five Common email marketing mistakes that lead to unsubscribes

Growing a high-quality mailing list can be a costly, time-consuming effort, but it’s an effort countless companies make for a simple reason: email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to grow a business, in fact it’s still arguably the most powerful marketing tool around.


But building a mailing list is only half the battle. The other half: keeping your subscribers.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy to make mistakes that drive subscribers away. Sometimes the best way to learn what to do right is to consider what not to do. Here are five common email marketing mistakes… and guidance on avoiding them.

 1. Frequent mailing.

Many companies send their subscribers too many emails bombarding their inboxes. This can quickly lead to subscriber attrition.

Instead of focusing on communicating with subscribers more frequently, ensure each communication packs a punch when it comes to value. Content should be engaging, insightful, and calls-to-action should be compelling.

2. Respecting their preferences.

Sending too many emails is one of the best ways to lose subscribers, but not respecting their preferences is one of the best ways to drive them away annoyed. Important preferences that should always be adhered to include list selections, frequency settings and formatting choices.

In many cases, preference violations are a result of poorly-implemented subscriber management systems. As such, it’s important to thoroughly test your system on a periodic basis to ensure that preferences are being captured properly and that the systems being used to deliver emails are aware of them.

3. Not relevant enough.

Prospects opt-in because you have information they want. Even if you’re sending emails to subscribers at the right frequency and you’re respecting their preferences, if subscribers don’t see the emails as being relevant, this will eventually lead to one thing: unsubscribes.

There are a number of ways to ensure you’re delivering relevant emails that are more likely to be of interest to subscribers. Several are:

  • Manually soliciting feedback from subscribers to ensure you’re in tune with their needs.
  • Collecting more granular explicit preference options that allow better subscriber segmentation.
  • Tracking open rates and using them to determine which subscribers should receive certain emails.

4. Inconsistency.

If your emails lack consistent branding and their source is not immediately apparent, there’s a greater probability that some subscribers may not understand why they’ve received an email, leading to an unsubscribe.

At a minimum, use the same sender name and email wherever possible to reduce the likelihood of confusion about the source of your emails. And, if possible, develop email templates that use consistent visual branding.

5: Ignoring Mobile Email Readers.

Let’s face it, the web is going mobile, and so are emails. You can’t ignore this trend. No matter how great your content is, if your prospects can’t read it on a smartphone or tablet, it’s not going to be read.

Remember that most mobile email readers will not automatically load images; even if they do load them, you have no guarantee that the images will display properly. So, design just as for non-mobile email: Use HTML text, use alternative text for images, and don’t forget to include a plain-text version.