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Top Email Marketing Mistakes That Could Hurt Your Message Open Rate

May 15, 2015 | Online Marketing

Woman Checking Email on Phone

Email marketing is one of the best online marketing tools companies have. But, the key to good email marketing campaigns is to stay out of people’s SPAM folders. Many readers and subscribers can forget they signed up to receive your emails, that they did business with you in the past, or that they have their filters on their inboxes set up in such a way that even honest email marketers have trouble getting through.

So what’s an email marketer to do? Let’s walk through some steps to make sure that you are following best practices for email marketing, to increase your chances of landing in the coveted inbox of your recipient.

Woman Checking Email on Phone

Avoid Spammy Content

When drafting your emails it is important to write them in such a way that they don’t come across as being SPAM. Lots of people will create a “unique” email, in the hopes that it gets them noticed in the inbox, but many email clients are configured to pick these type of “tricks” up as SPAM content.

  • Avoid using hashtags and special characters in place of an actual letter or number. Things like “FR3E” or “$pecial offer” are likely to be perceived as coming from a spammer.
  • Avoid using things like “Fwd:” or “Re:” in your subject line of the message, if you haven’t communicated with the recipient before. A marketing email would have no reason to use those identifiers.
  • Don’t use all caps in your message or subject line. That’s like YELLING at your intended recipient.
  • Don’t send a message that is only an image. Avoid creating your entire message inside an image and then emailing it as your message. Many email programs are set to disregard, hide or throw away attached images. Your recipient will have no idea what your message says. Be sure to put actual text in your email message, not inside an image.
  • Sloppy HTML can raise your SPAM score. If you are writing your message in Microsoft Word, and then copying and pasting that into your email program, it’s likely that you are adding tons of extra code to the message that’s not needed. If you must format your email, do so within your email program, or better yet, use an online email marketing service like Constant Contact or MailChimp. MailChimp is free for smaller lists and works well for those just getting started out in email marketing.

Make Sure That You Have Permission To Email

Sending unsolicited messages, especially messages to people you have never done business with before, is a real easy way to get yourself marked as a spammer. I would highly discourage purchasing such email lists, and instead cultivating your own. Yes, it will take some time, but it’s all part of building a viable and successful business.

When asking people to sign up for your email list via an online form, be sure to use a doubt opt-in process to ensure customers will know what they are receiving. This is where a dedicated email program MailChimp comes in handy. They have built in double opt-in options.

A company can freely email its existing customers, or anyone who has inquired about its products or services, even if these individuals have not given specific permission to be added to an email list, as these messages are classified as “relationship” messages. However, the option to unsubscribe must be present in your email marketing messages.

Be Sure Your Message Appeals to It’s Audience

Every email marketing message must have value and appeal to the recipients. If you haven’t contacted someone in about six months, don’t send them an email out of the blue. They may have forgotten who you are, or that they even signed up to get an email. Refresh their memory, by sending a message asking if they would like to continue to be on your list.

If you keep sending newsletters to contacts who continue to delete them without opening, they likely are not interested in your message. Delete them.

These type of things can be tracking in a dedicated email marketing program.

Be Mindful of Legal Violations

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was put in place to keep unsolicited emails out of inboxes and ISPs do week out promotional emails that violate some of the important provisions of this Act. Be sure that you are following best practices to avoid being marked by them.

  • Make sure that a way to unsubscribe is visible and accessible in all emails you send.
  • Honor all unsubscribe requests within 10 days.
  • A physical mailing address must be included in all emails.
  • Your from address must be accurate and linked directly to you or your company.
  • Your subject line must be relevant to the content inside.

Sending good content, to people that have asked to be included on your list, and following best practices in email marketing, will help you to steer clear of SPAM folders and get your emails right to your intended audience.


email marketing, emails, inbound marketing, marketing, online marketing, outbound marketing

Nora Kramer
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