6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Email Newsletter

Illustration by Pedro Piccinini Examining a box

Email marketing has a crazy high ROI. Recent estimates place it at 3800% on average.  This means there are plenty of opportunities for savvy business owners and organizations that send out email newsletters.

There’s just one problem: The average internet user receives about 90 emails per day, with around 40 coming from businesses. So standing out from the crowd is absolutely vital if you want to maximize the potential of your email newsletter.

This means, first and foremost, making sure you aren’t making any simple errors. There are some relatively common mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter that can undercut the effectiveness of your email, and having excellent spelling and grammar are just the beginning!

So in this post, we’ll brush up on six mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter.

Mistake #1: You Send the Same Email to Everyone

Email newsletters are alive and well, but the days of mass and bulk emails are long gone. This means that you can no longer send the same email to everyone on your email list (at least, not effectively), even if it might be the easiest way to distribute your newsletter.

Why is this a mistake?

Sending out one email to everyone on your list undermines your marketing opportunities for several reasons:

  • Your customer base is likely comprised of several different constituencies, each attracted to your business for different reasons. They won’t all respond to the same messaging.
  • Consumers tend to tune out information that isn’t relevant to them. When you send out mass emails, you risk becoming part of the noise.
  • Your business is failing to take advantage of the opportunities posed by a more segmented email approach.

How to correct this mistake

If you’ve been sending all of your emails to one simple list, there are a couple of quick and easy fixes that can help get you on track.

First, you need to segment your email list. Most modern email plugins and software make this relatively easy, giving you the power to segment your list according to age, gender, or recent purchases.

With MailPoet, we usually recommend our users to start a second list because they have less than 2,000 subscribers. But you can also segment by email actions (including opens and clicks), and purchased products and categories in WooCommerce.

Once you’ve started dividing your email list into groups, you’ll need to determine targeted messages and strategies for each segmented list. As far as mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter go, segmenting your email lists is critical to the long term success of your email newsletter strategy, and providing a personalized experience for subscribers, which — let’s face it — people have come to expect online nowadays.

Mistake #2: Your Emails Are Way Too Long

You’re not alone if your business has a lot of moving parts. This means any newsletter you send out will likely need to cover a lot of ground. It’s not unusual for organizations to carefully pick and choose what content they’re going to provide in an email. As far as mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter go, this one comes when a business decides to simply cram all their content into an email.

Why is this a mistake?

There are several reasons why overly long emails can lead to a less effective newsletter:

  • Consumers (and newsletter readers) generally have a relatively short attention span; when they see a block of text from a business they may or may not know well, they’re likely to check out.
  • Longer emails might get in the way of your call-to-action. What do you want your user to do? Your email newsletter should be geared towards that.
  • Long email newsletters are potentially robbing you of great content that you could post in a blog or in an online article that might otherwise boost your business.

How to correct this mistake

You might have a lot of ground to cover in your email newsletter, but that doesn’t mean you have to fit all of that content into a single email. This doesn’t mean you have to leave out content, necessarily. So as far as mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter go, there are a couple of ways you can have your cake and eat it too:

  • For every topic you need to cover, compose a simple paragraph summary and then link to a longer piece of work in which you explain that topic more fully.
  • Determine which topic will be most relevant to each user and then send out separate emails to each one of those email lists (using segmented lists).

In either case, ensuring that your emails are short and to the point is the best way to ensure that your call to action stands out and that readers stay engaged with your content.

For more on how to keep your emails short, check out Long vs. Short: Why You Should Keep Your Emails Brief.

Mistake #3: Your Email is Broken (and So Are Your Links)

Emails create a set of challenges that typically aren’t present on blog posts or web pages. First and foremost, emails have some serious limitations, especially when it comes to media.

This is why, generally speaking, trying to place a video in an email is almost always going to end in failure. However, what you really need to keep an eye out for is smaller, more common mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter — ones where your email might be slightly broken:

  • Broken links are one of the most common email issues that readers might come across. Make sure you test all of the links on your email before sending it out to make sure everything works. A broken link in an email is a true lost opportunity.
  • Images that don’t load properly are another common error. Generally, this happens because different email services handle code in different ways, so the image may load fine in Gmail but fail to load in Outlook. That’s why it’s important to test your emails to ensure the images are properly working.
  • Text that is not formatted properly is another common error. This will usually happen because of a syntax error (you might put a dash in the wrong spot, for example). You put a lot of effort into your branding, and your font choices and styles are part of that, so take the time to make sure that everything is working properly.

Why is this a mistake?

Broken emails do two things. First, they make you look unprofessional. Users will either laugh at you (which you don’t want) or write you off (which you also don’t want). Second, a broken email almost always translates into a lost opportunity. All of those people that would have clicked on your CTA and purchased something from your business are instead met with a 404 error and instead leave.

How to correct this mistake

Generally speaking, email problems come up because of incompatibility of specific email services (Outlook, for example). This is why it’s important to use an industry standard testing platform, such as Litmus, to test any emails that are built from scratch.

If you’re using an email service with provided templates, such as MailPoet offers, it’s likely you’ll have fewer code issues, but you’ll still want to test all of your links and images.

Test, test, test—that’s how you correct this mistake.

Mistake #4: Your Emails Are Not Mobile-Friendly

Today, over half of all traffic to your website — to any website — is mobile traffic. This number is only going to increase in the coming years, and that’s especially true for email.

If you think about it, you probably check your email on a mobile device much more often you do on a desktop computer. And yet, some businesses are still sending out emails that are not mobile friendly.

Why is this a mistake?

If you aren’t taking a mobile-first approach to your email design, development, and deployment, you’re likely letting some opportunities slip through the cracks — mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter. Here’s why:

  • When desktop versions of emails are displayed on mobile devices, your design won’t look right. Images and formatting will likely break and any font will be so small as to be  illegible. Even your buttons could be so small as to be unusable. A mobile-friendly version of your email is necessary to ensure everyone gets the right look.
  • A broken-looking email can significantly diminish your credibility. Over 50% of your customers will be looking at your email on a mobile platform — which means that over half your customers could see little more than a broken email.

How to correct this mistake

In most cases, ensuring you have a mobile-first approach to your email designs will help ensure that mobile users will easily be able to read any email newsletter you send out. Often, email services, like MailPoet, provide mobile-friendly templates, but if you are developing these emails from scratch, it’s important to test them in a mobile setting as well as a desktop one.

Mistake #5: You Have Not Applied Your Branding to Your Email

If you’re like most business, you’ve spent a significant amount of time and money developing your brand identity. Your brand identify informs everything from your logo to your letterhead to your website.

It should also inform your email newsletters, and neglecting this task can leave your customers feeling put-off and even confused.

Why is this a mistake?

If you aren’t applying your branding to your emails, you’re:

  • Failing to reinforce your brand identity to readers who receive your emails. On some level, all of those brand values you’ve spent so much time and money simply won’t be acknowledged by anyone reading your email newsletter unless your branding is front and center.
  • Missing out on a chance to build trust in your company. Every successful interaction with your brand moves forward your brand identity, makes your brand more reliable in the eyes of consumers.
  • Drawing attention to what’s missing. These days, almost everything is branded, so when something (such as your email) is not, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb–and not necessarily in a good way.

How to correct this mistake

In order to ensure your brand identity is successfully applied to your emails, you need to do more than select a header image that contains your logo. Update the fonts, headers, and even the bullet points in your emails — make sure every style decision is informed and guided by your branding requirements so that readers of your newsletter are always reminded of your brand values. Subscribers should know intuitively that an email is from you by your brand colors and everything that forms your identity, not just your words. This is one of the mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter that’s simple to rectify.

Mistake #6: You Don’t Talk About the Benefits

The purpose of an email newsletter, generally speaking, is to spread the news! So it’s understandable if you fall into the trap of talking about yourself and your business too much.

There’s an old copywriting saying that applies here: “Don’t talk about the features, talk about the benefits.” If you’re spending too much time talking about the features without relating the benefits of those features, you may lose your readers, so as far as mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter go, this is an important one.

Why is this a mistake?

To a certain extent, talking too much about news and features and not about the benefits is a mistake because of human psychology:

  • It’s sometimes difficult for consumers to make the lead directly from feature to benefit on their own. Taking a benefit (and therefore user) centered approach makes it easy for customers to understand why they should care.
  • Any business knows that keeping your customer happy is what keeps you in business. And customers know it too. That’s why they want to know why whatever news you’re announcing will make their lives easier–not necessarily yours.
  • Your competition certainly won’t be dancing around the benefits, which means that you better not either. If you do, it might look like the competition is doing more for customers than you are — and that’s not a great look.

How to correct this mistake

Generally, correcting this mistake means keeping your eye on the ball — or, in this case, your eye on the benefits. Make sure that whatever exciting news you have to announce is framed around how the customer will ultimately benefit.

And make sure you do this every single time — it’s important as far as mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter go. It might feel a little redundant at first, but your customers will certainly appreciate it.

Emails Will Never Be Perfect — But You Can Certainly Try

Ultimately, your emails are never going to be perfect; you’re always going to make tiny mistakes or even typos. That’s okay once in a while — your customers understand that everyone’s fallible. The trick, however, is knowing the mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter that will cost you opportunities.

That’s why avoiding these six mistakes to avoid in your email newsletter are so important. If you can put in place measures to avoid these mistakes, you’ll ensure more subscribers open your emails, understand your value, and engage with your email content.