Email Marketing Mistakes and Blunders To Avoid

Gerri Knilans
6 min readApr 8, 2024

Email marketing is a channel of choice for many marketers, especially in B2B organizations. In fact, 81 percent of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters. Furthermore, four out of five respondents to a Litmus study of over 2,000 marketers said they’d give up social media initiatives before giving up email marketing. These statistics underscore email’s importance, but to stand out in a crowded inbox, it’s vital that brands avoid common mistakes and blunders.

16 Email Mistakes to Avoid

Email might seem like a straightforward marketing channel compared to other outlets, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. When competition is fierce, missteps can cost valuable resources and tarnish your brand’s reputation. Here are 16 common mistakes and blunders to avoid when marketing to target audiences:

1. Ho-hum Subject Lines

Email subject lines are a small but mighty piece of marketing content. Boring or unoriginal subject lines keep readers from opening, reading, and engaging with your emails. A sub-par subject line can not only limit results, but the wrong language can damage your company’s reputation. According to the recent HubSpot Trend Report, the most effective email subject lines “engage curiosity, include promotional offers, and are personalized to each recipient’s interests.” Test the effectiveness of subject lines with tools such as MonsterInsights, CoSchedule, and WPBeginner.

2. Poorly Defined or Segmented Audiences

Any successful business needs to know its clients and understand its ideal buyer personas. Without segmentation, it’s impossible to effectively personalize messaging so it directly relates to the prospects’ needs and pain points. Neglecting personalization is a huge mistake in today’s noisy marketplace, where brands are constantly vying for users’ attention.

3. Discussing Features, Not Solutions

Prospects and clients need different messaging depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey. Unless someone is ready to make a purchase decision, they likely don’t care about detailed specifications of your services or products. Instead, they’re more interested in discovering solutions based on your expertise.

An effective CTA answers the question “what now?” after a prospect or client clicks into your email. CTAs that are concise, visible, and to the point, and encourage readers to take immediate action.

5. An Email That’s Too Long or Has Too Many Attachments

The average person receives over 120 business-related emails per day. A focused, brief, and actionable email accomplishes more than a long-winded email that users may not take the time to read. Also, don’t rely on attachments to communicate additional information. Attachments can trigger spam filters, preventing emails from reaching inboxes. Create shorter emails that address one key point at a time and send them out in a sequence that establishes brand awareness over time.

No two clients are identical and it’s important to understand when it’s the right time to reach out about working together. Take the time to define different buyer personas and clearly outline what the sales funnel might look like for different prospects. Time email sends based on specific actions taken by prospects and clients, seasonal variations, or newsworthy announcements. Also, keep in mind the best days and times to send emails. Marketing professionals say the best engagement occurs with emails sent between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. with Tuesdays being the most effective day for communication.

7. An Unprofessional Tone

When it comes to the business development environment, email readers aren’t interested in wasting their time. Busy professionals already have plenty to do. Strike the right balance of intrigue and professionalism to get to the point while staying friendly. Avoid using all caps, multiple exclamation points, or emoticons. Tailor language to the target audience, speaking in terms the recipient will understand and appreciate.

8. Overlooking A/B Testing

Testing goes hand in hand with timing, length, and other email variables that can impact open rates and engagement. A/B testing helps marketers clarify which elements of their emails are effective and resonate with clients. Factors to test include subject lines, time or day of the week, call to action, and design.

9. Ignoring Tools Like Templates and Analytics

There are countless tools that can help with everything from design to personalization to engagement analytics. These content creation tools can improve the reach and success of emails while offering a competitive advantage.

10. Typos and Errors

It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook the critical step of proofreading when you’re sending a lot of emails. When sending individual emails, always take the extra time to re-read the content before hitting send. When working on email campaigns or newsletters, it’s imperative to have another set of eyes to proofread for clarity. Test emails on various browsers and devices, ensure all hyperlinks are working, and be sure contact information is present and accurate.

11. Not Understanding Email Marketing Standards, Including Spam Filters

It’s vital for companies to pay attention to the regulations and initiatives that govern email marketing. Abiding by email regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act can mean the difference between a successful campaign and wasted resources. Also, 3 percent of all emails go missing or are caught by spam filters so take the necessary steps to avoid misdirected messages.

12. Sending Too Many (or Not Enough) Emails

It’s a fine balance between consistency and overload. Make an effort to develop fresh and valuable content to share with email audiences and ensure you have an effective communication schedule that works for your readers. Clients and prospects who regularly read and engage with your messages will be more receptive to frequent emails. On the other hand, too-frequent emails to uninterested parties can lead to high unsubscribe rates. Pay attention to open rates and engagement analytics, and use segmentation to tailor frequency to various target audiences.

13. Lack of a Follow-up Plan

Together with a communications schedule, marketing and sales teams need a follow-up plan. This might involve the use of dedicated customer relationship management (CRM) or internal communications software to track engagement and trigger personal outreach. A written follow-up plan also ensures everyone on the team is on the same page when it comes to prospect and client communications.

14. Failure to Act on Unsubscribe Requests

Keeping a clean, high-quality email list is essential. One way to ensure a targeted list is to respond to unsubscribe requests quickly and professionally. This is also an important email regulation to follow that results in trust and transparency with audiences.

15. Out-of-date Email Lists

Regular purges ensure that email lists stay current. A high bounce rate can indicate that your list is filled with invalid or inactive addresses. Consider removing contacts that haven’t engaged with your emails for a significant period of time. Review campaign reports to identify dead-end emails and update or remove them.

16. Relying Solely on Email

Nurturing meaningful client relationships takes more than a single string of emails. Leverage other channels to foster a relationship with target audiences beyond the inbox. Publish bylined articles, blogs, white papers, and case studies and post them on your website. Collaborate on webinars and podcasts to reach new audiences. Engage in discussions on social media. Most importantly, don’t forget that phone calls and video or in-person meetings will never cease to be the best way to build and reinforce connections.

Each Email Can Be a Lesson Learned

Email mistakes are a fact of life. Some errors are obvious (like sending an email to the wrong person) and others are more nuanced (like taking a hard-sell approach rather than providing value). Email marketing remains one of the most affordable and effective channels for connecting with target audiences. Still, it’s a powerful tool, not a magic bullet. By leveraging tools, creativity, and best practices, organizations can use emails to access a wealth of knowledge about their audiences, their interests, and behaviors. Furthermore, they can forge relationships that transform target audiences into loyal customers.

Originally published at on April 8, 2024.



Gerri Knilans

Marketing communications strategist. The right message. The right medium. Guaranteed.