Avoid these Common Email Marketing Mistakes with Essential Tips

Dastan Chikeev
17 min readDec 12, 2023


The search is endless for a weary e-commerce manager, alas, my fellow traveler I’ve found an end to your restless nights. Email marketing (not joking) is today’s topic of focus. We have certainly been reading around, crunching facts and figures, and have come to the conclusion that email marketing may be what you have been missing all along.

In all seriousness, email marketing is showing real signs of value. It has demonstrated a low cost of operation while also representing some of the highest engagement rates across all digital tools. Many figures (if you do your own research) will confirm that across all marketing channels, email marketing boasts some of the highest conversion rates around.

Email marketing has always been a great option. Still, it has made a resurgence of late as some of the best practices in digital marketing. Supported by data that suggests its massive potential as a reliable long-term solution. The most telling characteristic has to be its exceptional ROI and high levels of personalization. While figures vary by source, we estimate that return rates could peak as high as 400% if you manage to avoid the common email marketing mistakes.

It is thought that in any case, conversion rates of 10% or more can lead to a transformative effect on a business. We believe that these heralded figures are possible with email marketing, but some tweaking is necessary.

Common Email Marketing Mistakes

“Email marketing is the crown jewel of marketing ROI at an astounding $38 for every $1 spent.

When working without guidance, we are prone to making email marketing mistakes. The truth is that there is substantial value in email marketing but it is a challenge just like any other marketing channel. Below we will explore common email marketing mistakes that we should be avoiding in order to achieve our goals.

Mistake #1. Not Segmenting Emails

Each email you send must have an intended purpose to realize value for your business. When we send arbitrary emails (which is common), you will find that they are either ignored or are delivered with no measurable outcome. An email marketing mistake to avoid is definitely poor customer segmentation.

By segmentation what we mean is the curation of customer groups by purchase patterns and the creation of targeted email campaigns for relevance and purpose.

People have specific purchase patterns, and sending them content that doesn’t fit into their profile is completely random. Segmenting your email lists into customer groups is a simple way of avoiding one of the most common email marketing mistakes, and why customer personas are essential for the best email marketing practices.

Deepening Customer Profiles:

  • Do this by looking at previous purchase history or abandoned cart items. Data is great when drawing connections and crafting email campaigns.
  • An engaged subscriber is one who interacts positively with your emails. These customers should be treated with extra care. Their attitudes can be measured with open rates or CTR.
  • If enough subscribers negatively interact with your emails, you run the risk of the ESPs categorizing your emails as spam.
  • If you lack enough context on customer behavior, consider creating more comprehensive registration forms with fields that can help you build more accurate profiles.
  • Consider also using emails as a source of customer feedback, whereas you ask customers for background information about their preferences.

Mistake #2. Broken Links or Broken Content

Definitely avoid this email marketing mistake. You can lose customer trust very quickly if you’re sending them broken links or content. The major component of the internet is interlinking and navigation. It is perfectly common for a customer to transition from two or more pages before completing a sale. That means at least two links and two pages that should be optimized for performance and with convincing content for customers.

In order to analyze individual campaigns we often use UTM links which include long links embedded with tracking codes. It can be easy to make errors when working with complex links; especially if they have lots of non-standard symbols.

Similarly, make sure that the target page for your links is working as it should. Something as small as sending visitors to a webpage with broken images or missing content can damage your reputation.

Whatever the cause of this common email marketing mistake, avoiding negative impressions is essential. So take time and double-check that all your links work before you hit ‘go’ on the campaign.

Mistake #3. No Clear Intention

Your target audience signed up for emails with a clear idea of what they were getting. Changing the intention of your emails can lead to dissatisfaction. If you send emails that don’t align with that specific purpose, they will almost certainly react negatively. Shopify gives a few guidelines on this subject that describe the three types of messages you should be sending out; transactional, promotional, and lifecycle emails.

Transactional Emails: Sent when a customer buys from your store to confirm an order or announce shipping. Make these work better for you by adding links to related items or a discount code for their next purchase. Consider sending them emails that can help them better use your products like instructional content or style guides.

Promotional Emails: Promotional emails are perfectly okay to send and can have a positive impact on repeat purchases. They also represent a substantial chunk of the emails you’ll be sending. Typical promotional emails include; a weekly newsletter, strategic discounts, new catalogs, and back-in-stock notifications for popular products.

Lifecycle Emails: These emails are triggered at specific moments in the customer’s journey. It could be a nurture sequence that welcomes new customers or a reminder sent out for cart abandonment. It’s common for these types of emails to be used for promotional purposes as well. Here’s a welcome email example offering a discount for new subscribers:

Mistake #4. Cluttered Content and CTA’s

A perfectly avoidable and overly common email marketing mistake is cluttering your emails and confusing your recipient. The main goal is to deliver your message in a concise and effective manner, otherwise, we may strain our readers’ attention and result in no real gain. Each email you send should have a definitive purpose and should deliver your message with exactness. No more, no less.
CTA’s are part of the issue. We are required one way or another to transition customers from their inboxes towards our desired destination. We commonly make the mistake of inserting too many CTAs into a marketing email in the hope that something will ‘stick’. This shotgun approach risks confusing your readers and could lead to an increase in the number of unsubscribes.

Instead, we suggest focusing on the substance of your email and refining your CTA’s to be easily visible and clickable. Images are a great way of capturing a reader’s attention while delivering your message clearly.

Mistake #5. Not Tracking Campaign Performance

One of your greatest strengths is the ability to analyze and to iterate on your findings. One prominent email marketing mistake we commonly commit is the fixation on one approach or strategy. We have ways of tracking our campaign’s performance and adjusting for a winning formula. At some point in time, you too will make the necessary adjustment. What I propose is that you be ready to understand what sort of goal you should expect from the very beginning and not to conform without trial and error. There are a slew of metrics you should keep an eye on to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. Here are the ones you should watch as carefully as your Twitter feed:

  • Open Rate — Tells you how well your subject lines are performing.
  • Click Through Rate — The percentage of those who opened your email and then clicked on your CTA.
  • Conversion Rate — Metric of how many shoppers purchased a product from your email links.
  • Return on Investment — The ultimate measure. The return on the investment you spend setting up the marketing campaign.

Failure to track these email marketing metrics is critical for long-term success. A strategic approach, informed by metrics, allows you to make incremental improvements to a campaign, and increase overall profitability.

Mistake #6. Lacking Creativity

Generic text is another common email marketing mistake. People are constantly bombarded with emails, with the average office worker receiving around 121 per day. How can your marketing message stand out in those bulging inboxes? One way is by having a compelling subject line that creates intrigue.

Which one do you think is more likely to be opened?

  • TLDR is real, subject lines with 4–7 words perform best and anything with more than 8 words sees an instant drop in engagement.
  • Interestingly, the average number of characters in seven-word subject lines was 41 which is also the character limit for apps such as the iPhone email app.
  • Personalization is important for all types of email campaigns whether it is an eCommerce store, a lifestyle blog, or a gaming company. When used in subject lines, it can highly impact the open rates.

Mistake #7. Lacking Diversity

Lacking diversity is one major email marketing mistake that we see. While factors like urgency and promotions play an important role in conversion optimization, they cannot be the only content that you send your contacts. Legend has it that a warm thank you or welcome email can get you across the finish line. Consider how you can bring email subscribers some additional value.
Granted, there may be clear indicators that a particular type of email is opened more often than others, but this is no opportunity for abuse. In practical terms, having a diverse set of emails brings you more utility in the long run. The correct approach would be to try to focus on the relative success of each of your email templates individually. It is also incorrect to presume broad assumptions such as “all customers” are motivated by the same thing.

In the lower sections, we made sure to include some important email workflows you should include in your broader email marketing strategy.

Mistake #8. Damaging your Reputation

A critical aspect to consider and an email marketing mistake we see far too often, is the degradation of your reputation. When an email campaign reaches a minimum permissible performance level an email service provider will lower your status and move your emails to the spam folder. This will naturally result in your emails going largely unseen by your contacts and eventual failure, which resembles a worst-case scenario.

Below are examples of situations where you might have your emails moved to spam or junk folders. In later sections of this article, we will include best practices for email marketing, which will give you enough of a basis to avoid these issues altogether.
Reasons why email go to spam:

Mistake #9. Personalization

While the internet is heavily automated and that happens to be an advantage for a business, customers appreciate a more personalized experience. We commonly make the email marketing mistake of relying too heavily on general strategies, which can make customers feel distant. Personalized approaches make customers feel more appreciated and have shown stronger metrics like open rates and CTR. Personalization ultimately creates new opportunities and should be a consistent component of all your emails.

We can create a personalized marketing campaign by including customer names, utilizing their personal preferences, and providing targeted recommendations. You will find that simply understanding customers is enough to improve your recommendations. We generally seek to improve the customer experience and personalization can be a great way of doing exactly that.

Mistake #10. Not Optimising for Mobile

Are you checking how your marketing emails render on mobile before you send them out? Well, you should be, since according to oberlo, 52% of all web traffic nowadays comes from mobile. So, while you may have already spent some time optimizing your store’s look for mobile, remember it is essential to ensure your email marketing messages are also optimized.

Tip: Many of the popular email marketing integrations have a mobile preview built-in for you to check as you create your email. If in doubt, send a test email to yourself first and view it on your smartphone.

Best Practices for Email Marketing

E-commerce has more than its fair share of challenges like abandoned carts, low repeat purchases, and major communication issues. Email marketing campaigns serve as practical solutions to some of those pressing issues. Some of the best practices for email marketing are largely based on actual data derived from customer actions, that’s why they can be so effective when correctly implemented. This is just one example of the best email marketing practices and how they can impact your bottom line.

While testing variation and analyzing data represent some of the best practices in email marketing, there are a few guiding principles that we should always follow.

1. Clear and Open Policy

One of the best practices for email marketing campaigns is transparency. Trust is a major inflection point that can drive customers away in an instant. Customers feel it’s important that pricing and other policies like returns be clearly represented. Proactive emails are by far the best way to start this policy. While promotional offers are largely what emails are about, some of the best email marketing practices extend the customer’s lifetime value by cultivating trust. A few examples of these emails include; returns, delivery notifications, customer service notifications, and review requests.

2. Pro-active and Intentional

It’s clear why customer service is a universal goal and the best email marketing practices include crafting email automations that deliver value before the customer encounters any issues. We highly recommend visualizing what the customer may need and what sort of content could prove valuable to them. Once you’ve covered all the essentials, you can think about more creative elements like recipe recommendations for kitchen appliances or style guides for fashion brands. All of these possible recommendations can prove effective especially if you include engaging CTAs or personalized content.

3. Include Product Reviews

It’s perfectly clear how shopping online can feel like a detached experience since we may not know the business or understand what we are buying. All these potential concerns are perfectly common and considered normal in ecommerce. Reviews, testimonials, and any other type of social proof are a vital part of the ecommerce environment and this is no different for email marketing best practices. Reviews can be and should be used in your email campaigns to motivate shoppers and build trust. Besides that, some of the best practices for email marketing include collecting customer feedback through emails, something that demonstrates a willingness to put the customer first.

4. Offer Discounts or Loyalty Points

Shoppers are found to be highly reactive to discounts and loyalty points. Loyalty points when used in combination with email marketing can increase engagement rates and in return dramatically affect your goals. Loyalty Programs are perfect for the assignment, which can grant customers rewards for a variety of actions like leaving reviews or simply completing a purchase. Email can be used to remind customers that they have points available or to motivate a specific action with rewards. Ultimately, loyalty programs are a very clever way to foster customer relationships and email marketing is a great way of maintaining communication. When coupled together they make up some of the best practices for email marketing.

5. Leverage Exclusivity

People desire exclusivity and email marketing can be an excellent opportunity to give select customer groups some special treatment. It is possible to construct a strong contact list by utilizing this principle in your email marketing campaigns. Some of the best email marketing practices create genuine interest and there aren’t many better motivators than exclusive access to rewards, catalogs, or status. A few ways of leveraging exclusivity include the following:

  • Special Discounts: Discounts and special offers exclusive to your email subscribers.
  • Early Bird: Giving email subscribers first access can be a great way to generate attention.
  • Loyalty Tiers: Loyalty tiers are progressive reward systems that promote customers based on their history, something that can be communicated through emails.
  • Special Stock: Exclusive items, holiday items, and special editions all spur interest.

6. Personality and Charm

Personality, Humor, and Sincerity. We are all human and these traits play a big role in determining our behavior. These characteristics can make your emails more engaging while also helping you build rapport with your customers. The truth is that basic email templates can grow old very quickly, most people won’t even bother reading through something that feels robotic and impersonal. Personality could look like a heartfelt thank you, a charming joke or just showing them the courtesy of feeling special. This is a timeless approach to all things; email marketing included. Amongst the best practices for email marketing includes the ability to demonstrate character and authenticity and we highly encourage it.

4 Essential Email Templates

Similar to using a fast and reliable email API service, setting up automated emails is important in achieving active communication with customers. Here are what we believe to be four important templates for the best email marketing practices.

1. Welcome Series

welcome email example Source: Omnisend

Welcome emails have shown consistently positive metrics and are vital for the best email marketing practices. These emails will often be the first interactions amongst many you have with customers, so taking the extra steps is always well advised. If implemented well, these emails could be the start of a flourishing long-term relationship.

Here are two powerful tips for achieving welcome series success:

Personalize: Customer personas improve your conversion rate because you market the right products to the right people. Use your data to identify customer intent and customize your welcome messages accordingly. Even basic information like gender and personal interests could be enough to place the right product in the right inbox.

Consider leveraging customers’ browsing or email click data to provide perfect content and product recommendations. Purchase history is a great place to start building recommendations. For a visitor checking out yoga pants, recommending top-rated yoga-related products like mats and blocks can be the secret weapon to influencing a purchase.

Value and Necessity: Stay focused on what your new subscribers need and think of ways to provide them with value. A typical welcome series is between two and four emails, which is enough to build trust and differentiate from your competition. Think about sincerity, and sentiment, and about improving how customers use your product. Emails make for a perfect opportunity to cultivate a relationship.

2. Re-Marketing Browsed Products

We need to be watchful of buyers’ intent, managing viewed products is crucial in a competitive industry. Automated emails take care of the job perfectly, which can be sent to visitors who viewed certain products but never placed their orders-online window shoppers. Understanding what the customer is thinking at critical moments is valuable insight, it allows us to make changes and to facilitate the sale. We are trying to offer alternatives, variations, and brand options.

With open rates around 30% and conversion rates over 17%, these highly relevant messages are at the vanguard of conversion marketing. We know at a minimum that there is some sort of interest in previously viewed items.

Optimizing Cart Abandonment Emails:

  • Recommendations: Personalized product recommendations lead to a 26% increase in conversions. Your re-engagement emails are the perfect opportunity to make recommendations and cross-sell. Work on improving your images and present products that customers were browsing earlier; with some variations and similar products.
  • Keep it Simple: Heavy emails can be a super buzz kill. Keep it light and friendly, people can be quickly turned off by a promotional barrage. Keep your messages short and sweet and let your images do the talking. Considering trialing different time frames; send the first email within 30–60 minutes and the second after 24 hours. This can help you control your output while staying relevant.
  • Optimize for Special Occasions: Holidays are big-ticket events, and businesses can sometimes be dependent on seasonal events. Conversion rates are known to rise sharply over the holidays and this could be vital for a business’s bottom line. Planning your email campaigns to make the most out of special occasions is necessary. People are generally more tolerant of promotional messages during these times and are often looking for the best deals. Keeping your business top of the mind is essential for that key purchase.

3. Cart Abandonment

an image demonstrating the power of cart abandonment emails Source: Omnisend

Cart Abandonment emails are vital for creating the best email marketing practices, these are shoppers that are right on the edge of a purchase. Automated cart abandonment targets shoppers who have placed items in their shopping carts but failed to complete their orders. Because the messages target individuals with a high intention to buy, cart abandonment emails are commonly among the top performers of all automated workflows.

Cart abandonment regularly reaches conversion rates greater than 30%, and recovering even a small percentage of these lost sales makes a huge difference to your bottom line. To achieve these levels of performance with your abandoned cart workflows, you’ll need to do some tinkering:

  • Number of emails and timing: Don’t rely on a single email. Brands commonly rely on continuous series of emails- emails are low impact and keep your brand visible. Good timing can improve your chances, you’ll want to send the first message within the first hour. Remember to trail different approaches for your follow-up messages, keeping in mind the customer journey.
  • Make it easy to complete the purchase: Give your CTA a touch-up, and make it clearly visible and easy to use. This should take the customer straight back to the cart, ready to checkout with all details in place. Attractive visuals in your email can create a positive impression. The checkout process itself should be smooth and obstacle-free. If you run a subscription ecommerce model, an abandoned cart email followed by an optimized checkout process can help to manage your churn rates.
  • Use other channels:: SMS is showing some promising numbers, with conversion rates rising rapidly alongside total sends by retailers. This shows its potential as a trusted marketing channel to complement emails. Use these short, time-sensitive messages to deliver your message to their phone. Consider swapping out one of your emails with a text message to take advantage of SMS’s high read rate.

4. Post-Purchase

example of post purchase email Source: Omnisend

We should always be focused on cultivating a relationship with customers, something that is important for the best email marketing practices. For this reason, we can say that the customer purchase experience doesn’t end once the checkout is complete-it continues. Post-purchase automation goes beyond order and shipping confirmation messages. Many are designed to enhance the customer experience and increase the customer lifetime value (CLTV). And they work!

Here are five ways to improve your post-purchase email marketing:

  • Say thank you: Sending a message simplysaying, “thank you” can go a long way to making customers feel appreciated, and thus more likely to come back. Sincerity is a master key to a loyal customer, deliver this and your success is all but assured.
  • Customer service and product care: Sending a message reinforcing your customer service policies, such as hassle-free returns, or a product care/how-to email is a great way to show you care about their experience with your brand. Nothing is more empowering than transparency.
  • Provide recommendations: Customers are not opposed to recommendations, they encourage new ideas. Again, use your personalized product recommendations to cross-sell. No email workflow is complete without a few recommendations.
  • Loyalty Programs: If you have a loyalty program, use this opportunity to offer an easy way to sign up. Loyalty programs can be a great way of cementing an active relationship. Take the time to inform customers of the benefits of your program, along with their current point balance.
  • Feedback/Reviews: User-generated content serves as valuable social proof. Ask for product reviews or socially-shared photos of the customer using the product. These can help you build trust with potential customers and provide additional marketing materials. This could also lead to your inventory decisions and improve your catalog.

Email Automation is the singular most valuable communication tool available for businesses of all sizes to stay active with customers and to remain relevant. The low cost and high conversion rates are indicators of their effectiveness. They are an important inclusion for building the best email marketing practices.


Some of the best practices for email marketing have transformed the way businesses think about customer relationships. Emails are an everyday affair for most people and cost pennies in comparison to paid ads. Most people use email as a way to stay connected to the best offers and to register for their favorite stores. We also know that email marketing has one of the highest conversion rates in all of ecommerce. There just seem to be a lot of good things about email marketing right now. By now you should know enough about the best practices for email marketing to craft a complete campaign.

Originally published at https://www.growave.io.



Dastan Chikeev

E-commerce, Saas, Digital Marketing, Content Management, Shopify. Multiple solutions for problems of all varieties.