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Want More Subscribers? Avoid These 8 Email Marketing Mistakes!

“Email marketing is where the money’s AT!”

This has probably struck your eardrums for the billionth time right now…

And there’s a reason for that. Simply put, it’s true.

Research shows that email marketing is 40 times more effective at snagging new customers than Facebook and Twitter. Which is fantastic news for business owners and marketers.

Now while email marketing is a great way to ramp up business, it can soak up a ton of time, effort, and money when done incorrectly.

So here are 8 email marketing mistakes that are a danger to your bottom line. Steer clear of them to ensure that your business doesn’t bleed cash.

Let’s go.

Not Segmenting Your List

History shows that “divide and conquer” has been a great way to gain political power.

It’s also a great way to boost email marketing power. Just ask Mailchimp.

When they analyzed the open rates of 9 million emails, they found that segmented campaigns have a 14.4% better open rate than non-segmented campaigns.

Another testament to the power of segmentation is from online retailer, Totes Isotoner.

They noticed most online shoppers came to their site and repeatedly visited one category more than others. So they reached out to those shoppers with segmented email marketing pitches about their favorite category.

The results?

It’s safe to say they didn’t just boost their revenue, they tied it to a rocket and blasted it into outer space with a 7000% increase in email marketing revenue.

It’s wise to avoid generic campaigns where the entire list gets the same email. Instead, focus on a segmented approach when possible.

You can segment your list by:

  • Past purchase behavior
  • Vertical type
  • Email activity
  • Gender

Segmenting your list means that you’re sending relevant messages that better identify with the pains and desires of your customers. This leads to less unsubscribes, increased open rates and higher click-through rates.

Not Emailing Often Enough

Emailing often will lead to people hating you and unsubscribing because they feel smothered and overloaded with information, right? Not really.

Email marketing experts like Ben Settle and John Mcintyre are huge advocates of daily emails for great business gains.

Ben even believes that anyone serious about email marketing should be sending out at least one email a day, and that you should sell in every email.

Kareem Mayan from SocialWOD started sending frequent emails to his list. He saw improvements with each email he sent, and his click-through rates climbed from 5% to 25.2 %.

When increasing your email frequency be sure to:

  • Educate and give value before selling
  • Use stories and open loops
  • Be personal and engaging
  • Use what Ben Settle likes to call “edutainment.” Combine humor and personality with insights and information. This will deepen your relationship with subscribers, make you memorable, and more credible.
  • Test. There’s no one size fits all for emailing frequency. The only way to find out is to test to see what your list responds to best.

Butchering Emails With Too Many Images

Spices make certain foods a real treat for your taste buds. However, too much spice can ruin a dish, leaving you desperately chugging down gallons of water while flapping at your burning tongue.

Considering they can cause a 42% increase in click-through rates, images are like the spice of emails.

They’ll make your email more sexy. But overusing them, or using the incorrectly, can deal a deadly blow to your email marketing and leave a bad taste in your subscribers mouth.

When using images make sure that you use them to amplify and enhance your message

Relying on pictures to communicate your message isn’t a wise idea when 60% of customers have images disabled. The image is there to simply emphasize your message. Your customer should grasp what you have to say despite there being no visual aid.

Decide if they work or not

Collect data about how many people click through on your images. You’ll be able to see if images are increasing/damaging your conversions.

Use those ALT tags

If you have an HTML image tag you’re in luck. Why? You use an attribute called alt.

This allows you to determine what text will be seen just in case your image gets lazy and decides not to load. Here’s an example from Mr. Porter, a company that pulls in millions of dollars via email marketing:


Sending Out Sleep Inducing Subject Lines

Did you know that 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone?

This means weak subject lines could be causing huge losses.

It’s the same principle behind sales letters and blog posts… to get your reader interested, your headline has to be irresistible. Likewise, to get your subscriber to open your email, your subject line has to leap out the screen and jolt him awake.

So how do you create subject lines that get opened?

First use these four words sparingly:

  • Help
  • Free
  • Reminder
  • Percent off

Mailchimp’s analysis of subject lines concludes that you should avoid the words above because they’re likely to reduce open rates.

Keep them short

More research by Mailchimp shows that the optimum length for email subject lines is 50 characters or less. The only exception is if your subscribers are highly targeted and are really keen on what you offer.

Make it benefit driven

Why should your reader open your email? Give him a reason.

Which subject line below sounds more clickable?

Add more muscle”


How You Can Gain 10lbs of muscle in 3 months.

They both target the same reader, but the second is more likely to be clicked due it being more benefit driven and specific.

Below are good subject line examples from email “goo-roo” Ben Settle.

He blends humor, personality and a benefit driven approach to create clickable subject lines. I mean, who isn’t going to click on an email that indirectly calls them a “fat dude”?

Check out these killer subject lines for more examples.

Not Using A Responsive Email Design

A responsive design is a design that adapts to the medium it is being viewed on. That means it’s as smooth and clear on HDTVs, tablets or mobile phones as it is on computers.

Which is a must when research shows that:

  • 41% of all emails are opened on a mobile device
  • 42% of subscribers delete emails that don’t display correctly on mobile phones
  • 75% of Gmail users access their accounts on mobile devices. Gmail now has 900 million users.

Here are 7 pre-tested templates to help you get started with responsive emails.

Failing To Use Triggered Emails

“More than 60% of email marketers send automated welcome emails, and more than 50% send thank you emails. A smaller number send product recommendations.” MarketingSherpa


Triggered emails are emails that are triggered by events like:

  • A subscriber being non-responsive, which would trigger a reactivation series.
  • A lead subscribing to an email list, triggering a welcome series.
  • A customer abandoning mid-purchase, triggering a purchase abandonment series.
  • A customer purchasing a high-grade product, leading to an upsell series.

And when used properly they can put your email marketing on steroids.

Triggered emails have yielded over 100% higher click rates than non-triggered emails and 71% higher open rates.

One study even showed how a retailer used automated emails to generate 175% more revenue and boost conversion rates by 83%.

Why are they so effective?

1. They use customer behavior to segment your list

You’ve shopped on Amazon before right? (If not then congratulations on being 1 in a gazillion)

Then you’ve probably experienced how they send you emails based on what you’ve been searching for. I recently searched for some books on business and marketing. Look at what Amazon sent me after…

It’s simple and effective and it led to me making a purchase.

2. Capable of using environmental triggers to engage subscribers

Triggered emails act on your customer’s behavior. This allows you to overcome his objections and make him comfortable with your product/service.

For example, when your customer has whipped out his credit card and is punching his details in, it’s safe to say he’s interested. If your customer stops for whatever reason, your purchase abandonment series will take over and help you make the sale.

3. Eliminates you from the equation

One of the greatest things about triggered emails is that they do the heavy lifting for you. Once created, you have a reactive system that will boost your bottom line.

Ready to start using triggered emails?

Here’s a free trial from GetResponse. Combine that with these great triggered email examples to help you hit the ground running.

Overwhelming Subscribers With Options

The New York Times conducted a study to test the influences of choices and options on buying decisions.

They gave various choices of jam flavors on two different days and measured how much jam was sold.

When presented with 24 different types of flavors, 60% of people tasted the jams, but only 3% actually bought anything.

However, on a day when only 6 flavors were available, 40% of people tasted the jams and 30% of them made purchases. Resulting in 600% more jam sold.

A common mistake that people make is sending emails that push readers into conflicting paths and give too much options.Click To Tweet

While having a wealth of options may seem like a good thing, research constantly proves that it’s not. So limit your options and stick to one call to action in your emails.

Using A Generic Opt-in Reward

The stronger the appeal of your opt-in reward, the higher your conversions will be. Makes sense doesn’t it?

But how do you go about creating an opt-in offer that’ll cause readers to throw their email addresses at you?

  1. Start with your ideal customer. Step into his shoes. Get information on not just demographic but psychographics. What are their values? Dream solutions? What have they done in the past? The more time and effort you spend on this step the better your end opt-in offer will be.
  2. Come up with your opt-in idea. Using the information about your audience, you can create an ebook, interview, template or drip style course that helps them. If possible, try making the opt-in specific to the content your audience is consuming. Brian did this and increased conversions by a jaw dropping 785%.
  3. Test your opt-in and launch. Create a landing page to direct traffic to and test different opt-ins. Your bound to hit a home run if you keep testing.

Not Collecting Data To Drive Your Actions

What do you base your email marketing decisions on?

If you’re just throwing different ideas out there and seeing what sticks, you’re going about it the wrong way.

To make real progress with email marketing, you need to constantly test and collect data.

Take the best practices, do the opposite, add your own spin to things. Whatever you do, don’t make blind decisions. Collect data and information so you can constantly upgrade your email marketing efforts and squeeze the maximum ROI from it.

Are you making any of these mistakes? Tell me in the comments below. I know I’ve been guilty of some.

About Hassan Ud-deen

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter (who likes to be called \"The Wordslinger\"). He helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about him on his blog or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Tom Southern ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hey Hassan! You’ve really knocked it out of the park with this one. Getting email messages right is sometimes a real learning adventure. You’ve given us some hard-hitting, useful ways to make email list engagement (and growth) pay off.

    As for subject lines – I’ve had great success with short headlines. “Horrible Home Pages” was one of my most successful. It was short and touched on a big fear my email list members shared, which was why were people who were landing on their home pages for the first time, not clicking to read any of their blog posts.

    I like reading your content, Hassan, you really get down to the nitty-gritty essentials and know-how. Here’s to more success.

    1. Hassan Ud-deen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


      Long time no see, how’s the blogging “thug-life” treating you?

      “Horrible Home pages” aye? So simple, but so powerful isn’t it? And you’ve made a great point right there Tom: You can have the fanciest subject line in the world…but if it doesn’t make your readers emotionally prickle with recognition…it’s as effective as chopstick in a digging contest (Rush Hour haha)

      Thanks for the continued support Tom,
      More success to us both!

  2. Great, beefy read Hassan with some very interesting stats.
    I’m still curious on the frequency of emails though and wonder if those who email daily have a much higher turnover rate than those who email less.
    I do like Firepole’s email options to choose between daily and weekly – I think that’s an ideal way of balancing it and giving subscribers a sense of control.
    Thanks again,

  3. Hello Hassan,
    A very fantastic post you’ve written here, i really enjoyed it a lot. Email marketing should really be the backbone of any internet business because without it, you have no business.

    Many internet marketers usually rely heavily on their social media followers and while this is also a nice idea judging by the fact that social media marketing is a also a huge way of gaining more leads but, remember you don’t own those networks. What if they just wake up one morning and decide to wipe out your account? What will you do?

    Thats why nothing can be compared to having a very targeted list of fans and buyers.

    All the things you shared here are really the mistake most of us usually make especially the issue of thinking that sending emails to your list on a regular basis is insane. This is exactly what i usually imaging before but on a second thought, they opted into my list willingly and so, they already know what it means.

    And if any of them should just opt out because of my constant emails then, i think its a good thing because if they stay, they benefit you in any way.

    Finally, do Getresonse offer all the features you mentioned here like list segmentation, triggered email, etc?

    1. Hassan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You’re spot on there Theodore.

      Email marketing really is the backbone of online business. It’s what helps you maintain, sell to, and build a relationship with your customers. And as Neil Patel said, to win in business you just need more customers/users than your competition.

      And yes daily emails, or more frequent emails are more effective in some cases because your constantly connecting with customers. Take Ben settle for example, I get am “edutaning” email from him everyday, over long period this made him my go to guy when I want to learn more about email marketing.

      And get response do offer those services, depending on what package you choose with them.

      Appreciate your comments,

      Have a great day,

  4. You got me on that CTA, Hassan. I did a review of your 8 tips and realized I’m making big mistakes regarding at least 4 of them. As I recall it, 50% was not a passing grade on anything I ever did in school. Guess that would be true for email marketing as well, huh?
    Oh well…no grade is final until you quit taking the test. You’ve given me a lot to test and work on. Thanks.

    1. Hassan Ud-deen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Gary pleasure hearing from you again.

      Yeah I’m a victim of my own creation too. While writing this up I realized I needed to test more and improve my email marketing myself!

      But as the saying goes ” The best way to learn, is to teach.” Aye?

      Glad you found the post useful Gary


  5. Hassan Ud-deen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Vertical segmentation simply means picking a specific product or service and branding yourself as a specialist in your specific niche. Horizontal segmentation looks at a wider range of buyers with more generalized branding.

    2) That’s a tricky question haha. “Small” can be subjective. How small is your list exactly?

  6. Jessica ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hi Hassan, wonderful advice for someone like me whose open rates hover between 12-15%. I’d love to increase this!

    Two questions:

    1) You mention segmenting by vertical type. What does that mean?
    2) If your list is very small, it’s hard to segment by any useful demographic because you don’t have a lot of data to tell you about their behaviour. If someone has a small list, how do you recommend they start segmenting?

    Thanks very much!

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