Email automation is a blessing to any marketer. But only when done right.
Even the best of us make email marketing mistakes, but one might feel especially helpless when making those when sending automated email sequences — after all, aren’t they supposed to make things easier?
They are, and they do. You just need to make sure you don’t overlook these 5 elusive email marketing automation mistakes to keep your deliverability and conversions high and recipients happy.
Mistake 1: Not making the email sequence 100% about your recipient’s needs
There are many ways one can make this mistake, but there are three main points I want to concentrate on: Personalization levels, variable embedding, and the length of your emails.
All three of them have to be adjusted according to your recipients’ needs, desires, job position, field, and more.
It seems, every professional has written about the importance of personalization in email marketing and there really is nothing left unsaid on the issue. Yet, the problem persists.
Personalization affects both your reader’s consideration process and your open, click-through, and conversion rates.
By personalizing, you are showing that you’ve done your research and are going to put as much effort into the recipient’s success as you are into contacting them in the first place.
So the first of all the email marketing mistakes you need to take care of is not bringing as much personalization into your email sequence as possible.
This mistake is most common among novice email marketers who believe email marketing automation is all about the volume.
In reality, the personalization of automated emails should stay on the same high level as any other marketing or sales email.
Depending on your niche and business type, here’s the information you might need to personalize your email campaign:
- Job position
- Company name
- Relevant links (company website, social media, specific posts you’ll be referring to in the email copy)
- Pain point(s)
- Issues that influence their decision-making, etc.
The more personalization variables you add, the more personal and hand-crafted your emails will look and the more attention they will receive.
Another common email marketing mistake is the wrong use of personalization variables.
First, make sure the text framing the embedded variable actually fits it, i.e. there's no misalignment in grammar, number, or form.
Second, make sure you have the data you want to use, and the recipient won’t receive a cryptic email with parts of the texts missing.
And finally, always have a plan B for if the personalization doesn’t work.
Things happen, and sometimes tools glitch. Make sure your email copy will look coherent, logical, and convincing even with your variable gone.
People are busy and there are hardly any professionals who will spend their valuable time reading an email copy the size of an annual report.
Adjust your email copy length according to the recipient’s level of busy-ness and the amount of detail they may be interested in.
The average email length for B2B is about 250-300 words, which is enough to insert all the necessary details about your offer while keeping it brief.
For B2C, for which HTML-templates with bright examples of offers are more popular, the text should be limited to 50-100 words.
If you really feel the need to include as many details about your product as possible but still want to keep your offer short, try attaching a portfolio/catalog/use case, etc to the email.
Whether B2B or B2C, your recipients should have a way to opt-out of your emails.
Prove your credibility and respect your leads and clients: Add an unsubscribe link or ask them to let you know if they don’t want to hear from you again.
Mistake 2: Distracting the readers from the goal
Make your emails to the point and do not distract readers from the main goal of the email.
The distracting elements can be various, in fact, you may not even pay attention to them, but they have a negative impact on the recipients’ attention.
Here’s a short list of what can distract the readers away from the main action they are supposed to take:
- Multiple links are the easiest way to distract the reader. If your goal is to make the recipient click the link and proceeds to the pricing page and makes a purchase, do not add extra links that will lead them to your blog, social media page, or any other page unrelated to your goal.
- Too many questions. Questions are not bad - they attract the readers’ attention. But if you include too many of them, they turn into annoying text units and deflect attention - recipients will look through an email and in their mind, they’ll need to answer a lot of questions before they can proceed. This slows them down and drives them away from the main goal.
- Distracting data about your company and its achievements. It’s understandable that you may have a desire to prove your credibility and highlight these details. However, this is the kind of information hardly anyone wants to read in an email. Instead, add info about these awards and achievements to your homepage so that people could easily find them when they research your company.
- Multiple CTAs. Define what you want leads or clients to do when they open an email and include just one CTA. It can be either a link or a button or a question they are supposed to answer by replying to the email. Similar to links, there should only be one. The main rule is to emphasize it and make it stand out. This can be done using text formatting (if you are using plain-text emails) or color (it’s a good practice to use colors in email marketing when using HTML templates).
There’s another email campaign mistake to be pointed out: One campaign, but multiple goals.
Remember that each campaign should have one goal. If you need to pursue multiple goals, create more campaigns.
Each email in the sequence should push the lead closer to that goal. Having the same campaign pulling them in different directions will confuse and distract the lead.
Mistake 3: Scheduling and email frequency problems
One of the primary reasons emails get labeled as spam is email frequency.
Email frequency can be complicated: On the one hand, emails shouldn’t annoy your recipients; on the other, if your emails are too rare, people may forget who you are and simply delete emails from you without even opening them.
Based on our own research, the idea frequency, it’s ideal email frequency for B2B is at least once a month, and for B2C — weekly. The ideal time for sending — Tuesday and Friday, around 11 am.
We encourage you to conduct your own research: Start an A/B test with two groups of recipients at different frequencies and find out which one performs better and results in more conversions.
Mistake 4: Underestimating spam filters and bounces
Even when your emails and content are perfect, the technical side of email marketing might spoil the results when not tuned to perfection.
Here’s what you can try with every campaign to avoid this mistake.
Verify your recipient lists
Sending emails to unverified email addresses causes high bounce rates and damages your sender reputation.
If you want to avoid the snowball effect that will result in you being blocked, always use an email checker to clean the list before launching a campaign.
These tools conduct complex multi-step checks that verify that an email exists, is being used, and is capable of receiving an email.
These regular checks will help you reduce your bounce rate and overall email sending expenses.
Bypass the spam filters
There is so much information on the issue, yet it continues to be one of the most common email marketing campaign mistakes among legit email marketers. To avoid spam filters, here’s what you need to look into.
Take into consideration the technical side of email sending:
- Use only a dedicated IP address and a separate email address for all your email marketing to be able to control your sender reputation.
- To preserve your sender reputation and avoid getting flagged for suspicious behavior, warm your new sender addresses up before you start the campaign by sending smaller campaigns over a couple of days.
- Check your sender reputation regularly.
- Check the open, unsubscribe, spam complaint, and bounce rates of each campaign. On average, a normal open rate is 15.1% for B2B and 20.81% for B2C. The average unsubscribe rate is 0.23%, the spam complaint rate should not go over 0.5% (a blocking threshold for many ESPs), and the natural bounce rate - 2%.
- Go easy on attachments and formatting, and stick to the 20/80 ratio of pictures to text. Abusing any of these elements can trigger spam filters.
If your email passes the spam filters, recipients might still mark your emails as spam in these cases:
- The prospect didn’t give consent to receive emails. This doesn’t automatically dismiss cold emailing — just make sure you don’t come across as too familiar in your first email, and provide detailed information on the reason you are emailing.
- No unsubscribe option. Always provide a way for the recipient to opt-out of your emails. Failing to do so will cause negative feelings and a hit to your sender reputation after multiple spam complaints.
- Overly frequent emails. We’ve already mentioned this in the previous paragraph, but email frequency affects how happy the recipient is to see an email from you in their inbox, so choose it carefully.
- Unclear sender name and/or a misleading subject line. Make sure your sender name contains your company name to make it more trustworthy, and never mislead your recipient with a clickbait-y subject line only to fail to deliver what was promised in the email itself. Recipients don’t take kindly to such tricks.
- Bad email design or formatting. Yep, even such small things as an email that looks slapped together design-wise can trigger distrust in a recipient. Use a good HTML template or stick to plain-text to avoid such mishaps.
Send an email sequence as one thread
Sending emails as one thread is a nice little trick.
It will help you minimize negative impact when sending emails frequently, and gain the recipient’s trust over time by appearing in their inbox in a form of a dialogue rather than an individual email.
This way, all the follow-ups will appear in one thread, under the name of one sender and one subject line.
Let me tell you a short story that happened to me a couple of months ago. I came to work in the morning only to find that within 4 night hours I received 7(!) emails from a single sender.
The first thing I did was redirect all the emails to the Spam folder. Surely, no legit offer would be sent this way. When I calmed down I decided to write to them to find out what the hell happened.
They apologized and told me that there was a system outage, and, of course, they didn’t mean to send so many emails. But still, an unpleasant feeling of being spammed remained.
This wouldn’t have happened if the emails were sent as one thread and I’d only see one email containing the thread.
Sending emails in a thread will protect you from any mistakes with email frequency and make your emails look more natural despite being automated.
Choose an automation tool to send email campaigns from your own email address
Choosing an email drip campaigns tool that will let you send automated campaigns from your own email or SMTP is crucial to gaining full control over your email marketing results.
This will help you control your sender reputation as you’re the only one who is responsible for it.
Mistake 5: Ignoring past campaign statistics
This is one of the email campaign mistakes that is often made by beginners who believe email marketing automation means they need to launch a campaign and forget about it forever.
While you could do that, if you want to maximize your email campaign results, monitoring your campaign in real time will allow you to make edits where needed, to optimize sequences faster, and to create better follow-ups.
The easiest way to do this is to analyze opens, clicks, replies, unsubscribes, and other metrics the tool provides. This information is vital for defining what you are doing wrong (and right) about your campaign.
Another problem freshers can face is focusing on wrong campaign statistics.
Let’s say, the set goal of your campaign is to receive a reply initiating a conversation with the lead. If this is your goal, you can not interpret a growing open rate as a success - especially not if your reply rate is falling.
Concentrate on your reply rate and edit your campaign accordingly by improving not just the subject lines, but the CTA.
Automate it right!
To benefit from email marketing automation to the fullest, email marketers need to avoid mistakes based on the belief that email automation means complete separation from human control and overview.
To do this, follow the following tips:
- Use personalization variables wisely, adding just enough to make emails more appealing and human-like.
- Stick to the email length comfortable for the recipients according to your niche, buyer persona, and product.
- Be goal-oriented: set one goal for one email campaign, stick to one CTA, avoid distracting the reader. Simplicity is good.
- Define the email frequency best for your niche: research and experiment.
- Verify the list of recipients regularly (at least every 6 months). This will help keep deliverability and sender reputation high.
- Send emails as one thread for human-like feel and frequency control.
- Send emails from a dedicated IP address and have a separate email address for marketing, transactional, newsletter, and other emails.
- Analyze campaign performance concentrating on your goal, not all statistics.