Email Marketing Practices to Avoid

Truly successful email marketing has a lot to do with trust. The average consumer receives a number of emails each day. A survey conducted by Adobe in 2016 showed that the time spent checking email increased 17% year on year. The same study showed that 69% of respondents checked email while watching TV or movies, 57% checked their email in bed, and 79% checked their email on vacation. These percentages increase across the board for millennials within the 18-34 years age gap. A different study done by Radicati Group meanwhile noted that the total number of emails sent worldwide will grow at an average yearly rate of 3% over the next four years, with an estimate of over 246 billion predicted by the end of 2019. The same study predicts that by the end of 2019, there will be over 2.9 billion email users in the world, with over a third of the population using email.

What this means is that email has become a daily part of life for many consumers. While a fair portion of emails that will appear in the average consumer’s inbox will be opt-in mail, a large chunk of it will include unsolicited spam. To meet the heavy increase in spam, email providers are continually improving spam filters. As a result, even an opt-in email can go straight to spam if it is not meeting the global standards of best practice email marketing.

We have discussed the effects of badly planned marketing automation, showing you that things can go very, very wrong when not enough thought is put into your marketing efforts. We’ve also shared some of the factors that affect email open rates. Today, we are exploring some of the worst practices to avoid when it comes to email marketing.

Email Marketing Practices That Are Stunting Your Growth

While it’s easy to say that businesses should simply avoid spamming their lists to stay clear of those spam filters, in reality, a lot of emails that get blocked are not trying to spam. Despite the continued growth in email usage, businesses are not always able to stay abreast of current trends. Many end up blacklisted after trying to outsource emails to save costs. Others are not aware that they are doing any damage at all.

The effects of poor email marketing practices can be devastating. Even something as seemingly innocuous as having too many images in an email can put you at risk of ending up on a blacklist. As the process of sending and receiving emails is automatic, it can take a matter of seconds for a spam filter to decide whether to allow or block an email. A blocked email directly results in an unread email. This in turn directly affects your campaign’s chances of success. If your emails are going straight to spam, you are wasting valuable time and resources without getting any results.

How can you avoid getting blacklisted, blocked or reported for spam? For starters, you could consider the following email marketing practices that are most certainly affecting your results in all the wrong ways.

Bad subject lines. Email subject lines play a very important role in click-through and open-rates. Knowing how to craft a powerful subject line also means knowing what to never include in your subject lines. According to MailChimp, some of the words that could send your email straight to spam include free, help, donate, assistance, % off and reminder. Offers that include words such as deals or sale ending soon are also more likely to be flagged as spam. Instead of using obviously sales-focused words, find ways of expressing your deals that entice readers without trying for a hard sell. Other terms to avoid include superlatives such as wonderful and perfect, slang terms, hashtags, artificial use of FWD: and RE:, all caps, incorrect personalisation, random punctuation symbols, and even certain emojis (finger pointing, sunshine and the number 10 should all be avoided, according to Alchemy Worx).

Bought email lists. Even more important than a spammy subject line, bought lists may seem like a quick solution to the challenge of building an organic email list. But in reality, not only does this never result in genuine, targeted conversion and traffic; it also goes against the terms of use for almost every single service provider. Open rates and click-through rates will not increase, because chances are high that paid subscribers are not interested in your news. These lists are often made up of real people who have had their email addresses stolen without their consent. If you image how you feel when you get yet another spammy email in your inbox, you can quickly see why bought followers are a bad idea.

Other illegal list sourcing. Likewise, practices such as website scraping for email addresses are also very dangerous. Global spam laws have set strict regulations on practices that invade privacy online. As a general rule of thumb, unless you have express consent to email someone, it is best not to take the risk. This is especially true in the case of marketing automation. If email addresses frequently bounce, remove them from your list. Repeatedly emailing broken, changed or removed email addresses can affect your send rate, as service providers use bounce rates to determine your success. It is also not ideal to add people to your mailing list who have given their email through an enquiry or contact through social media channels, either, even if this is not strictly illegal.

Broken automation. Automating a broken system can have far-reaching, massive consequences. At the very least, you will end up looking bad. Whether you have mass sent an email that has a very obvious error, or you have failed to add a link or made any other error, it is essential to monitor, catch and refine your campaigns regularly. While automation has made it possible for email marketing to be far simpler and more effective, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you are trying to automate something that needs to be fixed. A broken email can affect future open rates, and can also affect subscriber rates as well if the mistake is serious enough.

Excessive images, flash or video. Using images is a good thing, in moderation. One email marketing mistake that many make is using too many images, or using images or files that are far too large. This is one of the most common causes of bounced or blocked emails. Most email provider systems have a threshold for email sizes. If there is too much flash, video or image, or too much JavaScript in the email, it will either be slow to send or it won’t send at all. As we mentioned above, automating a bad email is never wise. Be sure to test emails carefully before sending, and, wherever possible, reduce multi media content and elements so that emails can be sent quickly and easily.

Ready to take your email marketing efforts to the next level? Get in touch with Grapevine Interactive today to find out more about our world-class marketing automation solutions that help you craft powerful email marketing campaigns that are designed according to best practices.


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