Top 10 Email Newsletter Mistakes

E-mail newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers and prospective customers. But almost all marketers get them wrong. Here are ten things they continually screw up:

  1. They assume permission.
    31% of B-to-B marketers and 17.4% of B-to-C marketing assume permission, based on assumptions like “They are already a customer.” or “CAN-SPAM lets me email anyone in the US till they opt out.” or “Our unsubscribe rate is low.” But they can get flagged as a spammer and have huge problems

    What should they do?: Use verified opt-in (they fill out form, get an email back, and click a URL in the email to confirm) and audit each and every way you add people to your list. Make sure you are consistent and you do NOT precheck the sign-up box.

  2. Lack of segmentation
    The more a newsletter is personalized and segmented, the better your response will be. According to MarketingSherpa, Non-Segmented audiences generate 4.14.% opens and .48% clicks, while segmented audiences generate 30.86% opens and 6.68% clicks.

    What should they do?: Survey your audience or hold focus groups — and segment as much as you can.

  3. Lousy New Subscriber Welcome
    Which email is most likely to be read? According to MarketingSherpa, it is the first one they get from you. But most say “Thanks for subscribing to NAME OF NEWSLETTER.” Dull, boring and this important first contact is lost.

    What should they do? Take a close look at what goes out. Make it fun and irreverent. My partner creates cartoons — I directed them to our humor section.

  4. Newsletter frequency — too much or too little.
    If you ask 10 marketers how they set their schedule, all 100 will say monthly or when we have content. This is one of the most important decisions you can make.

    What should they do? Know their segment. Is there a busy time of year when we should be more frequent? (We have a Fall budgeting season in hotel seo.) Ask the users with a yearly survey.

  5. One Way Communications
    Even if they merge in the first name, title and company, almost all marketers forget to provide a way for the recipient to respond. Instead, it becomes from an institution, which feels cold and unfeeling.

    What should they do? Write in the first person singular (I, me). Make it from a person, complete with signature and head shot. Provide a phone and email address.

  6. Not interactive
    Isn’t the web wonderful? Users are empowered. Yet most marketers treat newsletters as “blast content.” Please note that links that go back to hosted content is not interactive.

    What they should do? Make sure it is very easy for the reader to contact someone. Reply button goes to a real email address with a very fast response. Is there a named contact on the mast head? Are their poll questions that are truly being read and responded to?

  7. Long text-centric copy
    According to the National Endowment for the Arts, fewer than half of adult Americans read literature for pleasure — down 10 points in a decade. Young people are down 28 points. Readers don’t read — they skim.

    What should they do?: Don’t get fancy with video or audio. Instead, add pictures, charts links to downloads and Flash presentations.

  8. Assume they get past Spam filters
    Either they say “It does not happen to me. My data says 98% is delivered.” or “That is the email service provider’s job.” As a result, a lot of newsletters are never delivered.

    What should they do?: Use a dedicated IP address. Get an SPF code to ensure the validity of your IP address. Run it though the online validator at

  9. Tiny type
    Just because they open it, don’t assume they can read it. You have fewer than 20 seconds before the click/delete decision. If the text is too small to read, you get deleted.

    What should they do?: Make sure the font size is 10 points for body copy or even 12. Also, don’t make your headlines much larger in comparison to body copy or readership will decline. Also, limit the width to 60-65 characters. Lastly, keep body copy in black on white.

  10. Relying on Email only
    While the newsletter is vital to communications, too many marketers rely on it alone.

    What should they do?: Consider mailing a copy of the newsletter, post online articles, and make sure you use Search Engine Optimization. And last but not least, a well-researched and well-planned voicemail or highly personalized one to one email works great.