8 Email Marketing Mishaps that will lose sales

Here at Wired HQ, we are signed up for hundreds of emails from across a variety of sectors. We like to know what’s going on in the world of email marketing, and what’s turning consumers on, and switching them off. We analyse subject lines, friendly from names, email templates and call to actions without even thinking about it! Some might say we love our jobs… others would say we’re a tiny bit crazy…

Anyway, because we absorb so much information, we also know what issues cause problems for companies who are using email marketing.

The main point of email marketing is to drive sales (usually), and surely is NOT to drive business away from your company.

We’ve compiled a list of the 8 email marketing mishaps that will cause you to lose business:

1. A dodgy subject line

A subject line can be dodgy for a number of reasons:

First: spelling. Now, we aren’t in primary school, so I won’t teach you how to spell, but make sure your subject line is spelt correctly. Have another person cast their eye over it to double check.

Secondly, the majority of mobile devices and some desktop email clients cut subject lines short. Consider what damage could be done if a user sees half of a subject line and gets the wrong end of the stick. Now, you may argue that it’s the users fault for not reading the whole thing, but you must remember that email users skim content.

Thirdly, the subject line convinces the user to open the email under false pretences, ‘You’ve won an iPad!’ Oh no… it’s only a newsletter. Or is just plain terrible.

Make sure your email is spelt correctly, is grammatically correct, tells the contact about the content and entices them to open the email.

2. Too many emails much too often

If you send a constant stream of emails to your contacts, you’ll likely end up in one of three situations: you’ll be labelled as spam (not good for the deliverability), your user will unsubscribe (generally not good) or your email will be deleted (not good for sales).

Once you have sent your campaigns, you should use your report tools to analyse how successful various campaigns have been. A low open rate or a high unsubscribe rate signifies that contacts are not engaged. Try lowering the frequency of your emails to see if engagement picks up.

Alternatively, create a preference centre for your contacts or send them a survey so that you can understand their likes and dislikes.

3. Forgetting about mobile

A staggering number of smartphone owners use their device to open and read emails, around 79%. And over 40% of email is read using a mobile device. For this reason, you would be committing email marketing suicide if you did not optimise your campaigns for mobile devices.

Remember: the whole aim of your email is to promote contacts to take immediate action. This may not be that easy for mobile users, unless your email, landing page and website is optimised for mobile devices.

Bear in mind that mobile users may be in a rush, have a bad internet connection and are using small screens. Keep the email simple, to the point and reduce the steps they need to take before they make a purchase.

4. No call to action

If you don’t include a call to action, you shouldn’t have sent the campaign. Whilst this one may be obvious to marketers, it’s shocking how many emails from large brands arrive with no call to action.

You’re sending an email because you want your contact to take action – so help them and point the in the right direction. And remember; try to point your CTA to a specific page relevant to the email, and not just your homepage. This ensures the contact doesn’t get lost, and lands in the correct place.

5. Too much content

As previously said, contacts typically skim emails, and if something piques their interest, they’ll read it in more detail. If you have paragraphs and paragraphs of content, it’ll likely go unread.

Typically, a user remains on an email for 30 seconds or less – your message needs to be conveyed and understood in that time to be in a with a chance of a sale.

6. Burying important links

Of course, your CTA should be the one area of your email that stands out. But you may wish to include another link within the email. If you’d like to link back to your website, don’t bury it at the bottom of the content.

Consider placing a small home icon at the top of the email. This way the link is obvious, doesn’t take up too much space, and is universally recognised.

7. An unfriendly Friendly From

Typically emails have a higher open rate if they come from a person’s name, rather than a company name, but this can differ depending on your company and your relationship with your contacts.

If the sender name is ‘’ or ‘’, then you are turning away interested customers who may want to reply, or turning them off by using the word ‘sales’ – they will see through your campaign if it’s all about the sales.

Try testing from names to see which will be successful for your company.

8. Timing is everything

It’s tricky to define, but there is a window of opportunity for email marketing, depending on what your campaign is promoting. If you’re using email marketing to inform contacts of an upcoming sale or event, an email sent to soon will be forgotten, and an email sent to late will miss the boat.

Use a lead generation campaign to warm contacts before an event. Send two or three campaigns to introduce the sale or event so that no contact is missed.

Alternatively test campaigns to find out which day and time would suit your contacts.


If you find you’ve committed some of these mistakes – don’t worry. The next campaign is a new campaign, and new techniques can be implemented.

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