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4 rookie mistakes in email marketing

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4 rookie mistakes in email marketing

email killing.pngEmail Marketing has an ROI of 4,300%! In fact, companies view email marketing as a better Return on Investment than social media, content marketing, PPC, and more. However, only 4% of marketers rate their email marketing efforts as “excellent”. It is also worth noting that Email Marketing converts 40 times more than Facebook! Yet so many marketers are committing some serious email marketing crimes!


Understanding the CAN SPAM Act - Only for the USA

"Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003"

  • You can be fined up to $300 per email if convicted
  • It is a federal law
  • You are still responsible even if you hire someone else to handle your email for you.
  • You must have a unsubscribe button or link in your email. Tell people they can just reply to you to ask to be removed is not cutting it.
  • You must have a mailing address in your email - It can be a PO Box Address
  • If they unsubscribe you must remove them within 10 business days. You may NOT email them again!


Common email-marketing rookie mistakes:


Mistake: Assuming People Actually Want To Hear From You

Just because you know someone does not automatically give you a right to add them to your email marketing list. Many times when people are building out their email list they automatically add friends, clients and colleagues without permission from those people. Do not make the mistake of assuming these people want to be on your marketing emails. When in doubt ALWAYS ask permission first. The best thing to do is send out individual emails to those people you work with or know who you think might be interested in your newsletter or emails and ask if it would be okay to add them to your subscription list. You can even sent along a link so they can sign up for themselves.


It is also important that you know that it's different if someone sends one email directly to you, with a sales pitch. But when that same person crosses the line and "blasts" his sales pitch to an entire list of people, it quickly becomes spam.


Remember we do not want to build a list full of people who really do not care about us, our business, or what we have to say. Why waste your time marketing to people who are not your ideal client? The reason I have over 30% open rates and over 18% click through rates is because I have built my list the right way. Full of poeple who want to get my messages and who are highly enageed with my brand. These people also tend to convert much better than the people you might add without asking or people on a list you purchased.


When it’s okay by law to add someone: (for CAN SPAM USA only)

  1. they were a recent customer (past 2 years, no longer)
  2. They dropped their card in a fishbowl that was labeled as Join our list
  3. They asked verbally
  4. they filled out a subscription form on your website or other online source (they opted in online)


What NOT to do: Just because the law says it is okay does not mean you should…

  • Buy lists
  • Add people who are connected to you via social media: This particular one annoys me to no end. I have heard people give the advice that you should export your LinkedIn Connections and use them in your email marketing. Please do not do this. Not only will you upset many people, it will make your brand look spammy. Is that what you want?
  • Add old customers who have not done business with you or heard from you in years.
  • Dump your email address book of contacts onto your marketing list.


Mistake: Writing Like A Used Car Salesman

Avoid using words like “BUY NOW!!!” and “LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!” in your email marketing. This style of marketing is better left out of email correspondence. It trigers spam filters and can easily annoy your readership. Spam filters are constantly out on the hunt for words and phrases like these so you need to tread carefully and be creative with your marketing messages. Avoid excessive exclamation points (!!!!) and try to not use CAPS in every word since that is considered yelling in email etiquette and the spam filters will likely flag you for it.



Mistake: Ignoring Campaign Reports

A while back met a woman who hired an outside company to do her email marketing. She asked me if I thought email was a good use of her marketing dollars and I replied “What are your reports saying?” The woman had no idea because she had never taken the time to ask the company who was doing her emailing for the campaign reports to see if they were even being read or if people were clicking on the links inside the emails. How would she ever know if her marketing dollars were being spent in the rght place if she didn’t even check to see if it was working?


This is a small example as to why you should be looking at all of your email campaign reports to see how effective they are. Campaign reports will tell you if your emails are being opened, if the email addresses you are mailing them to are even working and if your template design is encouraging people to click on links. All these pieces of data will help you improve on your email style and maximize results. Always check the statistics and the data to see if what you are doing is worth your money, your time and your effort.


Mistake: Not Having Permission

One of the biggest mistakes that companies and organizations make is utilizing the “fish bowl” give away incorrectly. I have seen it done in many different industries and I am sure you have too. The fish bowl with a little sign like “Drop your business card and you can win a free lunch”. It does not matter what they are giving away or what they can win, 9 times out of 10 they will be using your contact information in their email marketing and this is wrong!


If you plan on using the contact information from the business cards in your fish bowl you MUST state on your sign that they will be added to your email list. Subscribers need to KNOW they are subscribing otherwise you are assuming and thus breaking the law.


Quick Fix: Just put on your sign “Sign up for our monthly newsletter and have a chance to win a free lunch” This way you have stated that they will be added to the list and you are in the clear.


Never assume that just because someone gives you their business card that they want to be added to your email marketing. It does not matter if they dropped a card into your fishbowl or you got their card at a networking function, unless you state that is what you will be doing....Don’t do it!


Not to scare you or anything but I am kind of sick of people saying “What’s the worst that can happen, it’s just email” Well here you go… A quick list of lawsuits that came about because the company disobeyed the CAN SPAM Act: (Click the lawsuit to learn more)


Lawsuit: Kodak Imaging Network, $32,000

Lawsuit: YesMail, $50,000

Lawsuit: Jumpstart, $900,000

Lawsuit: Optin Global, $475,000

Lawsuit: ValueClick, $2.9 million

Lawsuit: Balsam v. Trancos, Inc., $87,000

Inet Ventures Pty Ltd., $15.15 million

ATM Global Systems, Inc., $442,900 (2008)

Sili Neutraceuticals, LLC, $2.5 million


So what say you? What horrible email mistakes have you seen in your inbox lately?


P.S. In doubt about the email you are about to send?  Does it pass the The Email Checklist from Seth Godin?

Kelly Mirabella
Social Media consultant, trainer and speaker
Stellar Media Marketing
Solution Provider

Re: 4 rookie mistakes in email marketing

Nice points here, Kelly. I especially like the list of law suits at the end - very eye opening, right?

Marsha Pearson
Master Certified Solution Provider