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8 ways email marketing automation can fail

In the email marketing game, saving time is good.

Image credit: BBC


Reaching more people is good. Automation is good… except when it isn’t.


When it’s done wrong, automated email marketing can actually hurt your brand and cause you to lose sales. At best, you’ll annoy customers and scare off leads. At worst, your emails will get flagged as spam and potentially cause your account to become blocked.

In order to correctly manage your email marketing automation, it’s essential to understand the tricks of the trade.

Learn from someone else’s mistakes instead of making your own:

8 ways email marketing automation can fail


Fail 1: Not triple checking your message

Image credit: 20th Century Fox


Not proofreading your emails – multiple times – before sending them out is a rookie mistake.

(But of course, we’ve all done it.)

Before hitting schedule, take a closer look and proofread those emails to make sure there are no spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors. This doesn’t just mean checking the text in the body of the email, but in the headers and email subject line too!

Also be sure to double check any shortcodes so that your customer, Tom, doesn’t get an email that begins with ‘Hey Jane’. Or worse, that greeting we’ve all seen with just an awkward space after it: ‘Hey  ,’ . It’s always best to have at least one other set of eyes look over your content and offer suggestions before sending.

After checking for silly errors, take a step back and make sure your email conveys the correct message.

Is it obvious that your email is about an end-of-year sale? Or are you announcing a new product that customers can easily figure out where and how to buy? Make sure the message is clear to the user by using an obvious call-to-action (CTA).

Once all of this is sorted, you’ll be ready to let your automation do its job.

Fail 2: Blasting your list


Rather than taking the time to craft variations of an email based on your customers’ wants, it is comparatively quicker and easier to compose one general-sounding email with which to blast your entire contact list.

But what seems like a time-saving tactic is actually a big mistake.

If you had a restaurant you wouldn’t send out the same main dish to every one of your customers, would you?

Absolutely not.

That’s because your email subscribers have different needs and interests. Sending them a variation of an email that is more specific to what they are looking for will not only ensure a higher open rate but minimise the number of unsubscribes.

Invest time into segmenting your current email list. For example, divide it up based on age, interests or demographics and develop emails tailored to each category. Don’t forget to set up an automation system that tags new users based on their interests to save you the hassle of segmenting your email list in the future.

Fail 3: Dirty data

Image credit: Walt Disney


If you don’t clean up your subscriber list from time to time, you risk sending emails to accounts in which the recipient’s address is invalid. This will result in a higher than necessary number of hard-bounced emails which can have a long-term negative effect on the delivery rate.

Just before your first email campaign, scrub your list clean by running it against an email validation solution that will test for valid and invalid emails.  

In order prevent this from happening in the future, be sure to include a double opt-in signup to ensure that the email addresses on your list are legit.

Fail 4: No code on website


When someone visits your site or reads the emails you send them, you have the opportunity to automatically collect certain data about them using a tool called a cookie. Whenever a person fills out a contact form or opens an email from your site, a cookie gets placed on that person’s computer and tracks their web behaviour such as their interests and buying patterns. The data that’s collected can then be put to good use because now you can craft targeted emails based on the information you’ve gathered.

Fail 5: Too much going on

Image credit: 20th Century Fox


Businesses are aware that emails are one of the top methods to reaching potential customers, even more so than social media and apps! However, sometimes subscribers get lost wading through long emails and click out or delete the message before getting to the most important section.

That is why it’s imperative that your message is short and sweet. Emails should be personalised and contain something of immediate value in addition to regularly reminding your readers to check out the content on your main website, which will ultimately result in a purchase of your product or service.

Fail 6: Not optimising for mobile


Since so many people check email on their phone, it would be a crime not to send out emails that are designed using mobile-friendly templates. Nothing will cause people to click off your message faster than if they have to squint and zoom while attempting to read illegible text. Even if the content looks great on desktops, it’s imperative that it looks just as attractive on handheld devices.

Plus, with so many people moving between phones and desktops (dubbed ‘multi-screening’) to accomplish a task or complete a sale, you’re less likely to lose a person to the competition if your emails are optimised for mobile users. If you aren’t able to provide them what they need immediately (in this day and age, even seconds make a difference) then you risk permanently losing a potential customer.

Fail 7: Getting your email sequence mixed up

Image credit: Lifetime


An embarrassing example of a mismanaged email sequence is sending a coupon code to a recent buyer. It would have been much better received by someone who abandoned their cart and needed just a little extra encouragement to complete a sale.

Another bad example of email mismanagement is failing to send a confirmation email. We’ve been trained to look for these types of messages in our inbox with titles such as ‘thanks for subscribing’ or ‘your purchase has been confirmed’ and some people can question whether the subscription went through if they don’t see that message.

Even though these mistakes are awkward, they can be easily prevented. By clearly mapping out your email sequence based on the interests and interactions of your email subscribers in addition to taking the time to send out test emails, a great deal of stress and embarrassment can be avoided.

Fail 8: Adopting the wrong tone


Your email design may be sleek and your call-to-action may be crystal clear, but if the text within your automated emails sounds robotic and impersonal, then your lead may go cold.

That’s because it matters not only what you say in an email but how you say it.

If your business is laid back and friendly, the tone of your emails should reflect that. If your business is dreamy and luxurious, make sure that fantasy is breathed into the words you use. And even though you are sending this email out to a large number of people, it should read like you just wrote to one specific person.

It takes a bit of practice to find your ‘voice’. Often developers try A/B testing to determine which email copy receives the most positive reactions. Once you do find your voice, however, your subscribers will thank you indirectly with an increase in conversion rates.



Featured image from https://bit.ly/1Dhlr3F

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Trevor Beers, Senior Language Technician, Phrasee

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