13 min read

50 Email Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

Written by Olena Stepova
13 min read
Table of Contents

    Welcome to our guide on email marketing mistakes! In this article, we’ll cover 50 common pitfalls that marketers often encounter in their email campaigns. Even if you think you’ve got a handle on email marketing, it’s essential to double-check your approach periodically. Small oversights can lead to mistakes that might affect your campaign’s success.

    By examining these mistakes, you can reinforce your knowledge and uncover potential blind spots that could be impacting your email marketing efforts. This guide also serves as a useful resource for discussing with your team to get fresh perspectives and mitigate any overlooked errors.

    Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting, let’s explore these 50 email marketing mistakes to ensure your campaigns are optimized for success.

    Key Factors Sabotaging Your Email Marketing Success

    Identifying and addressing the critical factors that undermine your email marketing efforts is essential for achieving success in your campaigns. By understanding and rectifying these issues, you can optimize your strategies to drive better engagement and conversions from your email audience.

    The lack of clear goals

    Many emails don’t have a clear goal of what people should do. 

    Sending emails without permission, aka spamming. 

    Express consent is preferred in email, in US, and it is required in all of the other countries. So don’t spam people without their permission. 

    Purchasing lists

    It sounds extremely easy to buy a list, pay little money, and start sending them. But again, it’s spamming, it will hurt your deliverability and it will have a negative return on investment.

    Not automating

    Based on Klaviyo data, automated emails drive over 14 times higher revenue than non-automated campaigns. Welcome flow, post-purchase flow, sunset flow, abandoned cart, added to cart –  all of these are good flows. You can automate this entire journey so your email makes money for you while you are not working on your emails.

    Missing fundamental flows

    You need to have all touch points for the customer journey life cycle: abandoned cart, welcome flow, win back, and so forth.

    Sending emails, that are over 100 KB

    Gmail automatically shortens all of the messages that have a size of more than 100 kilobytes, and it is not just a visual problem because part of your email will be cut, but also it’s a problem for your tracking. Very often a lot of ESPs put the tracking at the bottom of your email, so you won’t be able to track your email performance properly if your email is clipped. Make sure to stay under 100 kilobytes or even under 95.

    Not having a pop-up on your website 

    Whether it’s a welcome pop-up or an exit intent pop-up, you must have the pop-ups to convert the web visitor into email subscribers.

    Not segmenting your email list. 

    Ultra-relevant messages are the real moneymakers. There are some stats according to the Campaign Monitor: 74% of online consumers get frustrated when content offers or educational content is not relevant to them. And according to DMA, marketers have found that segmented emails perform 60% better than non-segmented ones. 

    Having double opt-in on

    Of course, if you have a deliverability issue you need to have double opt-in but by default all ESP email service providers like Klaviyo have double opt-in on. It means that for somebody to opt-in, they need to confirm via email and it will reduce your list growth. We strongly recommend turning it off.

    Making it hard for your subscribers to unsubscribe

    It has always been important to have an unsubscribe link to make it easy for your subscriber to unsubscribe, but it is especially important with all of the new compliances, and changes that are coming from Q1 of 2024. Your marketing emails must include a method to unsubscribe, either a link to unsubscribe from everything or an email preference page. You must include it. And starting in 2024, you have to make it very visible and even at the top of the email.

    Not having Demark set up for you

    Just remember that’s very important to have.

    Impersonating Gmail from headers

    Not just Gmail, but in general, impersonating emails from headers was cool 5 years ago, but it’s not anymore. It is a requirement to email that the header now matches your actual brand. So that is important for durability and just to identify you in the inbox.

    Not optimizing for mobile

    Predictions indicate that by 2025 72.9% of users will be shopping through mobile. So you must optimize your email for mobile and we’d strongly recommend designing mobile first and the desktop second. That’s what we do in our company.

    Using spam trigger words

    Here are the words, that you must avoid in your email subject line and copy when you’re working on your email: don’t use a lot of urgency words that pressure recipients such as “urgent”, or “before it’s too late”. We’re not gonna go over all of them, but be careful with them in your copy and your subject lines.

    Sending the same sequence of the same emails to abandoned cart users

    Either they purchased the first time for you or the 25th time from you. So it’s strongly recommended for you segment who you’re sending to: non-buyers, buyers, 1st-time buyers, 3rd-time buyers, or somebody who has a low cart value, or high cart value on specific products.

    Not cleaning the subscriber’s list

    This was always important, but it is especially important now with all of the new changes coming. Introducing a sunset flow is super helpful because this flow will allow you to automatically filter out the contacts once they reach unengaged status. Or those contacts that bounce. A lot of platforms will automatically suppress your soft bounces or hard bounces, but it is always a good idea to have something in place, some procedures to make sure to always keep your list hygiene.

    Continue sending emails to bounced

    So there’s hard bounce and soft bounce, but you need to make sure to create a special segment and exclude those people from your campaigns.

    Failing to track your campaigns

    Emails you send should be trackable. They need to incorporate some sort of tracking so you can track revenue, open rates, and click-through rates. You can analyze them and stuff like that. Establish a tracking system to continually improve your marketing measures to increase eventually conversion rates. 

    Not to have a CTA

    We analyze a lot of emails where we see just cool content, but there’s no CTA. So you read and don’t know what to do next. It’s bad practice going back to mistake number 1. What is your goal was an email? The goal is that the user needs to engage with your email.

    Sending emails with broken links

    There are a lot of reasons why the links might be broken. Maybe you misspelled the link, maybe you changed some collection name or you changed the product page name or something like that. It’s very important to continuously check the links before you send the campaigns or periodically check your flows as well.

    Not including a physical address

    According to the CAN-SPAM Act, you must include a physical address. And this is where we see a lot of people go wrong. If you don’t, you are breaking the law and there might be, consequences.

    Not having an alt text

    Alt text is very important, especially for people who use screen readers. So it’s considered good practice to include alt text to all of the images and everything. Without that alt text, a screen reader will tell your subscribers there is an image there, but it won’t tell them what is in that image.

    Not doing AB testing

    We see a lot of brands just sending emails without split testing, and it’s good to send versus not to send. But when you send you need to improve. By doing split tests, you constantly will be improving and understanding what your audience wants to receive. 

    Not having abandonment checkout flow

    As the name implies, cart abandonment is eCommerce flow used when shoppers add items to their cart, but leave before checking out. Checkout abandonment, on the other hand, occurs when a customer initiates the checkout process for the in-cart items but doesn’t complete it. So they happen at different parts of the customer journey, but they are equally important.

    Not integrating with eCommerce apps

    Each eCommerce store has a lot of apps and after doing hundreds of audits for businesses, we see that they are not leveraging the full potential of all their eCommerce apps, integrating them with Klaviyo and other email marketing service providers.

    Using a no-reply sender’s address discourages engagement

    When people reply to your emails it actually improves your deliverability. As you’re crafting your email marketing messages, consider giving subscribers some reason to respond. First of all, it builds trust between the brand and the customer, but also it gives you points for your sender’s reputation.

    Not previewing your messages before you send them out

    So we strongly recommend to send it to your inbox. Check all links before you send them to your audience.

    Not designing with color contrast and accessibility in mind

    Color contrast accessibility in email design is all about ensuring email content is accessible to all users, even users with, visual impairment. A good example is using, for example, green letters on a red background.

    This is a very bad practice because, first of all, color-blind people won’t be able to distinguish between these two colors, but also they are not contrasting enough for users to be able to read it.

    Using too many fonts in your email

    A good practice is to have 2 fonts per email, but when you have more than 2, you typically, make the email too complicated to comprehend, and they will just move to another email.

    Not designing for dark mode

    Did you know that 80 to 95% of subscribers, especially mobile subscribers, prefer using dark mode on their mobile devices? That’s why it’s super important to be designing all of these emails with dark mode in mind. There are certain design tricks that you can do to optimize dark mode.

    Not using a fallback value for your email

    So when you send “Hello” with a blank space where you want to put their first name because in some cases you don’t have your subscriber’s first name. In case you don’t have a first name, you can say “Hi there” or “Hello there” or something else.

    Using fallback phones that are not VAP-safe

    A lot of computers and phones are preloaded with some standards. That’s why there is a list of the phones that are recommended to use that are web safe, and basically, they can guarantee that your email will look good on different devices no matter the device your customer is using.

    Neglecting preview text

    If you do not include the preview text in your emails, the inbox provider, Yahoo or Gmail will pull the first thing they see. Sometimes it’s text, sometimes it’s code. So you don’t want to send emails with weird previews to your subscribers.

    Not testing discount codes before sending an email

    This is pretty self-explanatory, but please make sure that your discount codes are active when you are sending emails. If you are using dynamic codes, make sure that they are working properly. If you’re using static codes, make sure that you change them sometimes so they don’t get leaked on platforms like Honey. Make sure to always be testing your discount codes because there is nothing more frustrating than sending an email with a discount code that doesn’t work.

    Using all caps letters for subject lines

    It goes into the category of spam words. Maybe you are not using the spam words, but converting the entire subject line to caps might fall under the filter of spammers.

    Typos in emails

    There are some apps that you can use that can help you with preventing typos in your emails, like Grammarly or even ChatGPT. They should be relatively safe when it comes to typos. But there are some words, that these apps don’t catch.

    Going off brands

    This sounds like a small thing, but it’s an extremely big thing once somebody receives the emails. Recently, we were auditing the big massive brand and they went through different design changes. When you have a bunch of different emails with different styles it’s a bad reputation for your brand. 

    Not testing your emails across different email clients

    If you’re previewing your email in Klaviyo or Mailchimp and it’s beautifully designed it might look different on different design devices and different email clients. That’s why it’s very important to use some software like Litmus or Email on Acid to make sure that your email is rendering properly on different devices, different platforms, and in different modes, including the dark mode.

    Neglecting to use a person’s first name when you send out an email

    Dale Carnegie in his book said that the sweetest sound to somebody’s ears is to hear their first name. We split-tested hundreds of times: using the first person name always performs much better.

    Sending emails that are, at the wrong time or wrong day

    Our data found that among different brands the highest number of emails were received on Fridays for some reason. That varied during warmer months in March, June, and September when they saw more emails received on Thursday. But there is no magical day or time on when to send the email, so that’s something that you’ll have to find out for your brands. And there are a lot of tools that can help you to do that. So do your testing and make sure to find that perfect spot for your customers.

    Using a misleading subject line or sender’s name

    You don’t want to mislead a recipient because when they open your email, they expect something from it based on the sender’s name or the subject line. If you’re selling something in the subject line for 50% off, and when they open the email, it says 10% off, it’s misleading. They can mark you as a spammer or maybe unsubscribe from you because you lied to them.

    Neglecting plain text emails

    A plain text email is an email that you would receive from your friend. They are the email equivalent of a letter written on a typewriter or something. No images, no fancy fonts, just plain text, plain information with a few links and CTA. They are very good for engagement purposes. And while they may not be nearly as attractive as HTML-based emails or highly-designed emails. They are great, and they play a significant role in a well-rounded email marketing strategy, and they are great for your durability as well because people tend to engage better with those emails. But, of course, it comes down to your branding and your email marketing goals. 


    Personalization is crucial, but often we see some people go to the next level of crazy and they create millions of different segments, where they have only 50 or 25 people. It’s extreme personalization, but what’s the return on investments for that personalization? So we do not hyper-segment.

    Neglecting to provide exclusive offers to subscribers

    You want to give some reason for your people to stay on your list, and the perks of being one on the list are providing exclusive discounts, available exclusively to these people who trusted you and who gave you their email addresses. That’s why make sure to always provide exclusive offers and exclusive content to your subscribers to your email subscribers to strengthen that customer relationship with your people.

    Making emails too long

    There are a lot of issues. First of all, it’s clipping, but also it’s hard to keep the attention of your subscribers to finish your email. Make your email shorter.

    Not collecting 0 party data 

    Asking your customer to volunteer some data to you is a big thing, especially in the era of us moving away from third-party data. Quizzes are a very effective way to help people find the right product, for example, on your website. But at the same time, you as a brand are collecting very important information about your customers that can help you to serve them better in the future, to use this data for customization purposes, for segmentation purposes, and so forth. So collect your 0-party data.

    Treating your loyal customers the same way you treat all other

    It’s extremely important to have a segment or maybe a few segments of your loyal customers, somebody who spends money with you more often and in bigger amounts, and to talk with them differently.

    Having too long text without breaking it up

    Too much text is a problem because it’s very hard to read it. That’s why we recommend having a maximum of two lines and then doing a break. Do not have one long uninterrupted text because it’s difficult for your customer to read it and to understand it.

    Using marketing email for transactional purposes

    We see a lot of order confirmations, and shipping statuses – emails used as marketing emails. However, the true purpose of those emails is transactional. You need to convert those emails into transactional emails, which will have higher deliverability, and there’s no unsubscribe option from those emails because you want to update people with the status of their order.

    Not doing email marketing

    There were around 4,3 billion email users in 2022, and statistics predict actually that this figure will increase to 4,6 billion users by the year 2025. And 90% of these users do have some email, they do subscribe to some lists.

    That’s why email is not dead. The status still proves that email is very much alive. It shows that the email use population is growing, which means more marketing opportunities for businesses. So do your email marketing, do it right, and you will be happy.

    Just to put it in perspective, compared to Facebook users close to 2 billion, email users are almost half more. And when you’re sending out emails, you can control your messaging, you can control what your customers receive. On Facebook, on the other hand, unfortunately, it’s not possible unless you pay, but still, there are a lot of restrictions.

    What’s more, Statista also reported that there were approximately 306 billion emails sent daily in the year 2020 and by the year 2025, there will be 370 billion daily emails sent to your customers, which means that email is thriving, but it also means that you’re gonna have to do a better job with content segmenting, growing your list to make sure that your emails are start staying at the top of the list of your subscribers. 

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