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Why You Need to Avoid These Email Marketing Mistakes

We see people follow bad email practices all the time. And you know what? Doing the stuff we're going to talk about here holds you back from doing better and more effective email marketing and getting the results you want in your business. So are you ready to find out what the top email marketing mistakes you're making (and stop doing these things… yesterday?!)

SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: 

(3:10) Our incredible Keap offer!
(6:16) Stop worrying about open rates.
(7:07) Why open rates are wrong.
(8:37) Stop using RE: or FW: in your subject lines.
(12:42) Stop making it difficult for people to unsubscribe from your list.
(14:16) Stop letting your subscribers down.
(16:00) Stop using misleading subject lines.
(17:13) Stop adding so many images to your emails.
(19:33) Why emails with lots of images have worse delivery.
(21:21) Subject line of the week.

Stop worrying about open rates

The first of the email marketing mistakes that a lot of people make is paying too much attention to open rates. Sure, this is a metric that all email marketing platforms share with you, and it's an obvious one to check. 

But that number is wrong. 

First of all, you probably assume that your open rate should be higher than it is. You see 34% and think it's rubbish, but actually, that's a really respectable open rate. So it's important to be realistic here. 

But most importantly, open rates cannot be tracked properly, so they're just plain wrong! Some Android devices are already blocking the ability to track open rates, which means your emails are showing us unopened when they probably aren't. And on Apple, they’re being shown as open even if they aren't.

As more and more platforms like Apple iPhone release privacy updates that block that tracking even more strictly, the open rate metric you're looking at gets less reliable by the day. And you can't be improving a wrong number!

So let's go with this – open rates don't matter. Because you can't track them and you can't measure them, you can't work on growing them! It's like trying to follow a map with a blindfold on – you can't see the map or your feet! So pleeeeease stop obsessing over open rates. 

(Oh, and by the way, yes you do want people to open your emails, read them, click on the link, and buy. So stick to the best practices that can help you improve your open rates. But forget about the number!)

Stop using RE: or FW: in your subject lines

Okay, everyone needs to stop adding a fake RE: or FW: in subject lines to make it look like the email was a reply or it was forwarded when it clearly wasn't. These things are dodgy, scummy, and dishonest. And by far this is one of the biggest and more damaging email marketing mistakes we see people make.

You see, stuff like this might trick people into opening your emails, but please can we all stick to doing things that are effective and ethical?

Let's remember that you want people to open your emails because they see your name popping into their inbox, they know who you are and are excited to read what you have to say. When our subscribers see emails coming from Rob//Email Marketing Heroes they know it’s going to be a funny, interesting story with a valuable lesson (and an offer) in it.

So let's stop trying to build relationships with people based on bullshit. We want to get people excited, show value, and make sales. But we don't want to lie to them and make them feel ripped off. Because trying to trick your audience into thinking they're already in a conversation with you by mimicking a real, transactional email is the kind of stuff that creates resistance around buying stuff online – and specifically from emails. It's because of email marketing mistakes like these that, as marketers, we all have to work harder to make the sale. And if you're doing this because you see everyone else is, please, just STOP. 

Of course, when it's a genuine response and you've started a real conversation with your subscribers, by all means, carry on. But don't place that RE: or FW: there intentionally to trick people into thinking something that isn't true. Not cool. 

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Stop making it difficult for people to unsubscribe

Years ago, you'd see people adding a huge amount of lines between the end of their email and the unsubscribe link that's automatically generated at the bottom of all your emails. And we see that some people are still doing that. Please stop. If you're doing this, it's one of those BIG email marketing mistakes you want to stop making.

If people want to unsubscribe from your emails, just make it easy for them. Because if you don't let them go, they're not going to suddenly start liking your emails! They'll only get annoyed. And then they'll hit the spam button. Or reply to you and shout down in the email. So you aren't winning anything by making it difficult for people to unsubscribe from your list.

You want to make it hard for somebody to want to leave but make it easy for them to cancel once they're ready to. So put every bit of effort into making your email list an amazing place to be where people never want to unsubscribe. But when they do, just let them go.

Stop letting your subscribers down

When somebody subscribes to your email list, you need to show up with the value you promised. A lot of people tell us that if they sent an email to their list every day their subscribers wouldn’t like it. But if someone has given you their email address to receive your emails and you don’t send them any, you’re letting them down!

If someone bought a product from you and you never sent it, that would be a scam! And it's the same thing with emails. Because emails are currency. They don't cost anything financially, but they cost our subscribers' attention, time, focus, and trust. This is what they give away when they give you their email address.

So in return, you need to treat their email address with respect and show up and do the thing you said you were going to do. Because if you don't – if you promised a weekly newsletter and keep missing your deadlines – every time you don't do what you said you would – you're losing trust. And subconsciously, that doesn't work well at all when you're trying to sell something! So, can you see this is one of those email marketing mistakes you don't want to be making?

Stop using misleading subject lines

We once got an email from someone that said, “My friend died of Covid”. But then the email went on to say the person wasn’t really their friend and they didn’t die. So at that point, as a reader, I feel like I've been hoodwinked. My emotional response is to feel let down by this person.

And you don't want that to be your reputation. You want quite the opposite, in fact! You want to surpass people’s expectations and make them think that their experience with us is even better than what they thought it was going to be. 

Don't trick people and don't let them down. Instead, do amazing offer creation and come up with brilliant ways that are effective and convert. Come up with brilliant products and overdeliver. But never hoodwink people! 

Stop adding so many images to your emails

Another thing we’d like people to stop doing is putting so many images in emails. When you add images, a few things happen both from a psychological perspective and from a technical perspective. 

From a psychological perspective, imagine you've got a new place, and your mum gave you this second-hand ‘awful’, ‘disgusting’ sofa, and you include a photo of it because it's somehow part of the story you're sharing in the email. Now, the problem with that is that once you've used those denigrative words to describe the sofa and then added a picture, anyone with a sofa like that or who likes that sofa feels automatically alienated by your email and by you as a person. You don't want that. 

So a much better strategy is to paint a picture with your words. That way, the reader gets to imagine what the sofa looks like. You don’t see best-selling fiction authors add photos in their books, do you? Because when we paint the pictures with words, our readers allow themselves to grow that picture in their head. And that's powerful and less alienating. 

Emails with lots of images have worse delivery

The other reason why you don't want to use too many images in an email is that you'll get a lower delivery rate. If you do everything else right, and you generally have good delivery and good list hygiene, an image won't hurt. But an email with lots of images will get lower delivery because it’s more difficult to deliver than a cleaner email without images. So with fewer images in your emails, you get better delivery and a better reputation.

Occasionally, we do put an image in our emails though. When we're sharing a video, for example, we'll add a screenshot or moving GIF to get more people to click and watch. What we're not doing (and we suggest you don't do either) is to litter the email with photos make it look like the new IKEA catalogue! The goal is to create streamlined emails that people can read quickly and that get good delivery.

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Subject line of the week

This week’s subject line is “A really sad phone call.” For us, this subject line treads the line of what's acceptable. Because what we're always looking to do with subject lines is to create something that has enough hype, intrigue, and curiosity. You want it to trigger a knee-jerk reaction that will make people want to open your email and read it. But at the same time, they don’t want to feel let down when they read it. 

Now the first line in this email was, “Greg was a really lovely guy.” So that's a little preview line that helps get the email opened. Greg was a potential client we spoke to on the phone, and it turned out we couldn't help him with what he was looking for. And we ended up, sadly, turning him down as a client. That’s what the email was about. So aim to grab people’s attention but without making them feel hoodwinked. Got it?

Useful Episode Resources

Related episodes

How Will iOS 15 Change Email Marketing?

Increase Your Email Open-Rates: 13 Email Subject Line Tips to Stand Out in An Overcrowded Inbox #2018.

How To Get A 60% Email Open Rate – Above Average With Amy Perkins.

FREE list of the top 10 books to improve your email marketing

If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here

Join our FREE Facebook group

If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.

Try ResponseSuite for $1

This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.

Join The League Membership

Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.

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