Email has been used by businesses for well over 20 years. It’s been a huge part of how we communicate in the last decade and has changed our lives tremendously. It is a huge asset for small businesses providing affordable and targeted marketing opportunities that didn’t exist before (see our list on how to profit with 5 Essential Email Guides).

But even the savviest small business owner can overlook the obvious which results in a BIG mistake  (sign-up for our free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter to get more secrets for winning with email marketing).

Biggest Email Mistakes to Avoid!

The list of email marketing gurus is long with incredibile experience and innovation, driving positive change. Selecting only 20 was a challenge. I’ve tried to pull out unique items from each author although common errors were reiterated across the blogs.

  1. Laurie Cantus of Go2Girls has incredibly practical email and e-newsletter advice for small business owners. Her post on Newsletter Basics provides great tips on successful email marketing. The golden rule: Don’t over complicate things. Stay focused on a single message and deliver value. Fantastic advice in today’s crowded inbox!
  2. AJ Kumar is co-founder and VP of Marketing at Single Grain Digital Marketing. Their blog offers a ton of great info for small businesses. He recently posted his list of seven small business email mistakes including: Failing to use an email marketing provider; Emailing without permission; Writing bad subject lines. 
  3. Jamie Turner 60SecondMarketer — master promoter, author, and 60-second whiz — hosted a post by contributing author Brian Foster. Brian’s list of top five mistakes includes a one that is a critical part of any email campaign being launched today—Don’t Make Your Emails Incompatible with Mobile. Read the rest of Brian’s tips here.
  4. Lydia Ramsey is an accomplished author and business etiquette expert (something we should always be aware of in email). Her top 12 email mistakes include: Not Accounting for Tone;  Thinking that No One Else Will Ever See Your Email; 10. Leaving Off Your Signature. Get her complete list at Business Know How.
  5. Charlie Graham is founder and CEO of Shop It To Me. He knows email marketing having sent over 1.5 billion emails since their launch. He tops his list of seven mistakes with DON’T make your email one-size-fits-all; DON’T skip A/B testing; DON’T ignore getting dumped. Read the rest of his insightful list here.
  6. Mass Transmit (great name) is an email marketing group with a host of tips and resources for everyone. Their top 10 email marketing strategic mistakes include a couple of notables — Not Having a Goal and Not Providing Contact Information. Biggies! The other eight can help you as well, read them here.
  7. Carolyn Nye is the Email Marketing Manager for USAData, not a small job. She lists the three reoccurring biggies she saw in 2012 — Sending Emails Too Frequently; Ignoring Mobile Devices; Underestimating Email’s Overall Impact. You can read her full article here.
  8. Position2 is a digital marketing support service. They offer really comprehensive resources on their blog and recently shared their list of 15 email marketing mistakes. They offered some unique don’ts that were right on target — No Connect Between Email and Landing Page and Not Thinking of Email as a Lead Generator.
  9. Janelle Johnson is manager of marketing operations at Act-On Software and posted her list of six big mistakes on Marketing Profs. Three to note are Neglecting Buyer Needs; Blasting the Same Message to All Contacts; Failing to Adapt Messaging. As always with Marketing Profs, she offers super practical info for the small business owner.
  10. Ashley Zeckman of TopRankBlog wrote an article on Effective Email Marketing awhile ago on how to improve your email marketing campaigns but the points are still valid today. She offered tips I didn’t see on many other posts so I had to include them. I’d say these are deadly mistakes if you DON’T do them:  Make Content Shareable (add share buttons) and Analyze Your Data. Email is all about ROI, pay attention to the metrics and focus on what works.
  11. MailUp is an message provider — email, text, and (soon) social with a unique ‘pay per speed’ pricing model. Their blog shares the seven common mistakes they see happen. Two are obvious but not stated many other places — Sending without testing and I’m a graphic artist! (i.e. don’t over-design). Your email message or newsletter should not be created like it’s a color brochure, it just doesn’t translate.
  12. OpenSesame is an online educational platform with some heady talent and some great courses. In their blog, I discovered an older post by web entrepreneur and Digital Aptitude CEO, Zeke Camusio. Once I saw, it I was shocked I hadn’t seen this listed elsewhere. I guess we assume that everyone knows this these day but: DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS! If you didn’t know that, it’s shouting. My pet peeve. The rest of the post can be found here.
  13. Tamara Gielen is an independent email specialist and co-founder of Plan to Engage. Her Be Relevant! Email Marketing Blog offers great tips for novices and experts alike. Her list of 12 big mistakes list includes lack of interactivity. Email can, and should, engage it’s reader. Learn her other tips here.
  14. ExtraVision is a UK email service but I loved that they have tips that others seemed to overlook. The biggest being: Not complying with legal guidelines. It seems obvious but not following this golden rule can get you in trouble, fast! The the other nine tips include items like Not checking spelling and grammar; Broken Links. The complete list can be found here.
  15. Bryan Taylor from Forix SEO in Portland wrote a guest post for The SEM Group with a basic list on email blunders. One point that was reiterated by him and many others our list was the big mistake of: Not segmenting your lists. The beauty of email is that it allows you to tailor message to the recipient. Keep them subscribed by respecting their interests and relevant communications.
  16. John Hayes is a veteran digital marketer and contributor on many well-known sites. On the Business2Community site he posted a series of articles on Email Marketing Mistakes that are worth the read. Email is all about best practices and permissions, his #4 tip on things to avoid is The Dubiously Acquired List. If they didn’t tell YOU they wanted your news, don’t send it to them. Period!
  17. netXtra is a UK digital communications firm, their client list includes charities and non-profits as well as commercial businesses. The tips they provide address people managing email themselves which is likely appropriate to many of our small businesses. Follow their advice on a big mistakes: Including every other recipient in the header and Sending an attachment (i.e. don’t create a PDF someone has to download!)
  18. SilverPop is a huge giant in the email marketing industry. While their email product might offer a little more horsepower than our small business clients need, their list of email marketing mistakes is classic. My favorite: Not Learning from Mistakes. 🙂
  19. pbSmart Essentials (Pitney Bowes Small Business Resources) provide a couple of key mistakes that can really impact the success for your email marketing campaign. These include: Not identifying yourself in the ‘from’ line (everyone wants to know where the email is coming from) and NOT sending users back to your website. Be sure to include links back to content related to the email.
  20. Delivra offers some great email content and email marketing services. Their list of articles provided some great ‘you must do this’ posts (often around what they offer) so I took the reverse spin and will say it’s a big mistake if you don’t. One was about Automated Email Messaging. Even small business owners should be sending an automated email right after an email sign-up at least saying thanks for registering.

Now you’re ready for any email campaign with best-practices firmly in place. Avoid these mistakes and you’re on your way to growing your email list and small business!