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Email Marketing: 7 Common Mistakes that are Causing You to Lose Customers

When dealing with your email marketing there are a few mistakes that you definitely want to avoid. This article gives a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the email marketing in general and is worth a read.

Email Marketing: 7 Common Mistakes that are Causing You to Lose Customers

If you hang around digital marketing blogs for long enough, you'll eventually come across a statement which reads something like this:

Email marketing has the highest ROI for any form of Digital Marketing and returns $38 for every $1 spent.  

But why email marketing is the channel everybody's talking about, but not leveraging it properly?

When this sage advice was being dished out, they neglected to mention that email marketing is also hell of a challenging thing to get right too.

So if you've been already doing email marketing for your store, but not been getting the results you hoped for, then this article is for you. 

We'll be going through 7 of the most common mistakes store owners make, which we've observed through the years of working with Shopify merchants. Hopefully, learning from these mistakes will in turn help you avoid them in your own business, leading to more successful and effective email marketing. So let's dive in!

Mistake #1. Not Optimising for Mobile

Source: Oberlo

Are you checking how your marketing emails render on mobile before you send them out? Well, at least you should be, since according to, 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 as 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.

2. Using Bad Subject Lines

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 entices and intrigues the recipient to open it.

For example, from the two lines below, which one do you think is more likely to get opened?

email subject line example

The second point to consider is the number of words you use in your subject line, as it will also impact the open rates of your emails. For example, Marketo research has found out that subject lines with 4-7 words perform best and there is a marked drop in user engagement with 8 word subject lines.

Interestingly, the average number of characters in their seven-word subject lines was 41 which coincides with the character limit set by certain email apps, such as the iPhone email app (which will truncate it in portrait mode).

The third point is adding personalization in your subject lines. 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.

3. Not Segmenting Your List

Humans are a pretty self-involved species – we, for the most part, prioritize our own interests. If a customer likes vegan protein powder, and this is supported by their purchase history of only buying vegan protein powder from your store which also offers other non-vegan options, then you should only email that customer your vegan offerings. Likewise, someone who is coeliac isn't going to care for your pre-made, gluten-rich cupcake mix range.

This is known as email list segmentation , or as Shopify calls it 'Customer Groups'. A customer is more likely to unsubscribe from your email list if you send them irrelevant emails, so you need to determine what their interests are.

Do this by looking at previous purchases, abandoned carts, or by simply asking them. Then, group them accordingly so you can better focus your messaging.

It's also essential to send your promotional emails to an engaged segment of subscribers. An engaged subscriber is one that interacts positively with your emails, by preferably opening them and clicking on a link, but at the very least opening them.  

Creating an engaged segment helps to keep you in the good books of the Email Service Providers. ESPs track the emails you send to see if they get opened, deleted, or marked as spam. 

If enough subscribers negatively interact with your emails, then you risk the ESPs marking all your future emails as spam. Shopify email marketing integrations have tools to filter engaged subscribers to build this segment for you.

Further reading:  How to make money with email marketing

4. Broken Links or Links to Broken Content

If you are doing your email marketing correctly, then you'll use long links embedded with tracking codes. It can be easy, however, to make errors when working with complex links; especially if they have lots of non-standard symbols.

By accidentally including an extra space when you copy a link, you end up having a broken link. So take time and some extra care to check that all the links in your email work before you hit 'go' on the campaign.

404 image by pixabay

Having to send out a later email with 'oops' at the start of your subject line doesn't scream professionalism.

Similarly, before you run the campaign, make sure that the target page for your links is working as it should. Sending visitors to a webpage with broken images or missing content damages your reputation too.

5. Having No Purpose for Your Email

Your audience has granted permission for you to email them because they have an interest in the products you sell. If you send them emails that don't align with that purpose, then they will unsubscribe from your list, or worse, hit the spam button.

Shopify says there are three broad 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.

Promotional Emails: These are the mainstay of emails that you'll send. Typical emails include; a weekly newsletter, discounts to shift on slow-moving stock, and back-in-stock notifications for popular products.

Lifecycle Emails: These emails are triggered when a subscriber performs an action. It could be a nurture sequence that welcomes new customers or a reminder sent out for cart abandonment. It's still OK to use these kinds of emails for promotional messaging - here's a welcome email example offering a discount for new subscribers:

welcome email example

The critical point to remember is that your customers and prospects are interested in the things you sell, not in you. So, keep your emails aligned with your shop's primary purpose.  

6. Too Many CTA's

CTA – Call To Action – is the thing you want your prospect to do once they have opened and read your email. This is usually clicking a link that takes them to an offer.

Some store owners make the mistake of inserting too many CTAs into a marketing email in the hope that something will 'stick'. But, this shotgun approach risks confusing your readers and could lead to an increase in the number of unsubscribes. 

Consider instead segmenting your email lists into groups of buyers with similar interests and email those groups with separate offers instead.

This doesn't mean that you can't have more than one CTA in a marketing email. But, if you do, place it away from your main CTA and make it less prominent.

Here is an excellent example of a promotion with one CTA.

personalized email template example

7. Not Tracking Campaign Performance

There are a slew of metrics you should keep an eye on to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing. Here are the ones you should watch as carefully as your Twitter feed:

·      Open Rate - Tells you how well your subject lines are performing.

·      CTR or 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. 

·      ROI - The ultimate measure. The return on the investment you spend setting up the marketing campaign.

Failure to track these and other measures of campaign performance is a hit-and-hope approach. A strategic approach, informed by metrics, allows you to make incremental improvements to a campaign, and increase profitability. 

Suggested reading: How To Choose the Right Email Marketing Tool for Your Business

Bonus Mistakes

Here are some more bonus mistakes you need to keep an eye out for that speak for themselves:

  • Big Walls of Text / Bad Layout
  • Irrelevant Content
  • Lack of Personalisation
  • Not performing email verification

Achieving sales from email marketing is essential for success in the competitive world of e-commerce. With this list, we hoped to give a basic understanding of the common problems that you might bump to on your journey, which will thus help you navigate your email marketing campaign more effectively.

Author Bio:

Emily Amor is the SEO Strategist at Digital Darts: a Shopify optimization agency that scientifically increases the profits of Shopify stores through Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO, and email marketing. When she's not helping to make clients more money, she's outdoors hiking, mountain biking, gardening or on a rainy, rugged up in bed with a great fantasy novel.

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