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7 Email Marketing Mistakes I Made (And How You Can Avoid Them)

Email marketing is talked a lot about in the blogging sphere, all about how you need a list and to grow your list and how valuable your list can be.

It may all be true, but only if you really understand what email marketing is about.

I’ve been blogging for over five years and I didn’t start my email list until about 6 months into it, and that was just my first mistake.

I’ve made tons more since, and truth be told I still mess up sometimes, but I’m not alone and I promise you aren’t either.

So if you are looking to avoid making email marketing mistakes or just want to know you’re not alone in making them, this post is for you.

In this post, I’m going to share seven different email marketing mistakes I’ve made and some mistakes made by other bloggers. I’ll also be sharing tips on how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

1. Not Making Sure The Form Was Set Up Correctly

Because of how I angle my opt-ins I generally don’t do a double opt-in, at least not intentionally. However, the settings in the forms on the email marketing service I used changed, and so I was requiring double opt-in. 

It was a mess and a pain to go through each form to make sure the settings were correct. I also lost a lot of potential subscribers because of this. 

How to avoid it: Review ALL of the settings on each of your email forms, to make sure the settings are what you want before you put it on your site.

2. Failing To Deliver The Freebie

Someone signing up and expecting a freebie and then not getting it – awkward. This was pre-GDPR if you are wondering, obviously freebies and email marketing are different now. 

The link to the freebie ended broken somehow, which meant when new subscribers clicked on it, they didn’t get what they were expecting. They weren’t pleased. Not to mention it was rather embarrassing for me.

How to avoid it: Test out all of your emails and automations before actually implementing them. I know it’s a bit annoying to take that extra step, but it can help you to avoid mistakes like this one.

3. Not Starting An Email List In The First Place

I started blogging in summer 2014, but didn’t start an email list until May 2015. Now, my site wasn’t a huge hit all of the sudden, so I probably didn’t miss out on too many subscribers by not starting my list right away, but I’ll never actually know.

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Need an Email List

How to avoid it: Start providing readers an opportunity to subscribe as soon as your start your site. If you’re bootstrapping it you can use a service like Mailerlite for free for up to 1,000 subscribers.

4. Choosing A Terrible EMS

EMS stands for email marketing service, when I first started I used Mailchimp, it was free and recommended by many. After my 4th email went out, they suspended my account without explanation. 

I reviewed the terms of service to make sure I hadn’t accidentally violated them, I hadn’t and they never did get back to me with why my account was suspended. 

I moved on to Aweber which was okay, but I found it confusing to use, continuing with my goldilocks adventure into email marketing services, I settled on ConvertKit. It was made by a blogger for bloggers and was a great system for me. 

I used ConvertKit for over three years, then I hit a snag, it took them about six months to fix the issue and by then I’d moved on, lowering my account to the lowest paid plan for people to still opt-out. But I commend them for working on it and fixing the issue and I would recommend them to others.

The truth is every email marketing service has its pros and cons and a learning curve, but I can tell you that switching between them is a giant pain, so try to choose one you’ll want to stick with for the long haul.

How to avoid it: Pick a quality email marketing service from the start to avoid the headache of switching.

5. Not Having A System In Place To Keep Subscribers Organized

Most email marketing services offer tools like tags and segments to help keep your email list organized. This helps in sending more targeted and topic specific emails.

The problem is when I first started growing my list, that is what I focused on, not what happened or how my list was organized after people subscribed.

Earlier this year I worked with an email marketing strategist and she helped me to figure all the stuff out.

How to avoid it: Don’t just focus on growing your email list, have a plan for your email list in mind. Before you even put forms up on your site.

6. Not Emailing My List Regularly

Truth be told this is still something I struggle with a bit. But if you don’t email you list regularly – typically at least once a week, they are going to forget who you are and it’s going to impact your overall effectiveness. 

How often you should email your list is really going to depend on you and your community, but cold email lists don’t tend to convert well. 

How to avoid it: When you build out your blog post editorial calendar, consider also building out your email marketing editorial calendar so you always know what to send your list.

If this is a big struggle of yours, the Email Marketing Membership from Liz Wilcox will send you a template every week.

7. Not Having A Strategy

Emailing my list just to email them is not super helpful to my list or to me. My goal is to always provide value to those on my list and help them to reach their goals, but I also want to make sure my email list pays for itself and isn’t a liability. 

This means I need to have a strategy when it comes to emailing my list and know what I want each email to accomplish. This doesn’t mean I try to sell them something every time I email them, that would be annoying for them, and I’d feel sleezy doing that. But making sure I know how each email is going to help them and work towards my larger goal requires me to have a strategy in place.

How to avoid it: Check to see if each email you send not only helps your subscribers but also is moving you towards your own goals.

Mistakes Other Bloggers Have Made:

Turns out I’m not the only one who has made mistakes when it comes to email marketing, these other bloggers were kind enough to share their mistakes too:

One time I did a list building giveaway and gained a list of over 2,500 new email subscribers. We had some scammy emails sign up so I decided to clean the list. In my excitement of the giveaways success I quickly uploaded the .csv file to my email service provider. Unfortunately, when I edited the spreadsheet I had shifted the name section unknowingly. When I sent the first email to this segment of my email list using the first name personalization, I was suddenly flooded with dozens of messages responding that I had called them the wrong name…whoops! I had a good chunk of unsubscribes, but with a follow up email I was able to save most of them and ultimately got some sales from it. So if you do make a mistake, don’t panic, figure out how you can make the most of it.

McKinzie Bean
Moms Make Cents

The biggest mistake that I made with email marketing (honestly) is focusing on my list size. I feel like it’s a social stigma…kind of like wearing white after Labor Day…when it really shouldn’t be. On an email list of under 100 people, I’ve been able to launch a coaching program softly through my welcome sequence (without a sales page) and gross $1,000 in the first 3 months. You can 100% monetize your list when it’s small, but you have to understand how to communicate with them to build the necessary trust. So, don’t focus on how big your email list is, but rather the quality of the subscribers on your list. 

Drew DuBoff

I failed to include an affiliate disclaimer in my emails using Mailchimp. Somehow Mailchimp caught wind of this and shut my account down. So, yeah, it’s a good idea to always include an affiliate disclosure when using affiliate links in your emails. #Lessonlearned.

Tried and True Mom Jobs​

When some affiliates have a new campaign (say, they’re opening a course for a short time), they provide you with pre-prepared emails to send to your subscribers. In my mind, this was a win! I didn’t have to write anything and, given that these people were the so-called experts, the clicks – and the money – were bound to come flowing in!…not at all. Not only was the tone way off from my usual email style, meaning it came across as a bit spammy to my subscribers, but people also often sign up to the mailing lists of multiple bloggers – and so can end up receiving the exact same email from different people. This resulted in a click through rate for these emails that was, frankly, abysmal.Lesson learned: write emails in whatever style you see fit as long as it’s YOU. People liked the tone of your blog posts enough to subscribe to your mailing list, so continue that tone in your emails. I like to do this by dictating my emails so that they’re written how I speak, which ensures that I sound more like how I want to come across to my readers. This, in turn, generates trust and, subsequently, clicks – which is what we as email marketers are looking for!

Anna Bee
The Land of Milk and Money

It took me years to realize that email marketing success lies in building connection with audience. Until then, I used send latest posts updates and a few promotional emails. As soon as, I realized my mistake, I started writing interactive emails, and tried to help them genuinely by asking questions.

Swati Chalumuri
Hear Me Folks

A few years ago, I didn’t do anything to scrub my list and remove subscribers who were inactive. As the list grew, open rates and click through rates declined because of the inactive subscribers. Eventually, I decided to clean the and remove people who hadn’t opened an email or clicked on a link in a couple of months. Once I started doing that a few times per year, open rates and click rates improved. Getting rid of inactive subscribers also saved me some money since the monthly fee is based on the number of subscribers.

Marc Andre
Vital Dollar

Sending an email to all of my subscribers even though those subscribers opted in for specific category within my blog. For example, I have opt-ins for posts related to paying off debt and for posts related to making money. While the two opt-ins are similar, they serve different types of subscribers. I used to send one email for everyone and my unsubscribe rate was high. When I learned that mistakes, I made sure that I only send emails to subscribers that wanted to know the specific post I’m sending out. My click through has gotten better and my unsubscribe rate has decreased substantially because of that simple change.

Allan Liwanag
The Practical Saver

In the early days, I used to send a standard email newsletter without any segmentation, tracking, or original content. It was pretty vanilla if we’re being honest here. Once I started studying email copywriting and treating my emails as a way to create original content that warmed up my audience (while being strategic with tracking codes), everything changed!

Bobby Hoyt
Millennial Money Man

My biggest mistake when it comes to email marketing, was not choosing an email marketing platform early on. When I setup my blog, I signed up for SpecificFeeds to collect email addresses.SpecificFeeds was very limited in its capabilities. It basically just sends an email out to my subscribers with a link to my latest post.I am currently in the process of trying to convert to MailChimp because it is an email marketing platform that provides more functionality and allows for me to create customized email marketing campaigns.

Jerry Brown
Peerless Money Mentor

I have fallen into this trap multiple times — ignoring customer behavior when optimizing emails. We all optimize subject lines, copy, time to send, etc. and lose sight of the bigger picture. Relevance is key and we forget to send out messaging based on data and behavior. We’ve found the most success by sending targeted message to the right audience through the right medium. It’s always a nice surprise when I receive emails relevant to me, and it’s a good reminder to always optimize based on behavior.

Missy Galang
Diversy Fund

Bottom Line

When you’re a blogger you’re sure to make mistakes, everyone does. So long as you learn from those mistakes or better yet can learn from other’s mistakes you’ll be on your way to success. 

Hopefully, this list of email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them will help you and make you feel better about any mistakes you’ve made.

Have you made an email marketing mistake that wasn’t on this list? Let me know in the comments!

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