8 Rookie Mistakes in Email Marketing

March 24th, 2007 | By Adam Holden-Bache | No Comments

Over the past few years, email marketing has established certain best practices and standards that many industry professionals use on a daily basis. But many new marketers may still not know the best and most successful ways to produce email messages.

Here’s a list of the 8 most common rookie mistakes, and how to avoid them.

  1. Using too many graphics. A common mistake that many marketers make is putting too much of the necessary email information into a visual image. Graphics should only be used to enhance your email message. The important information (offer, promotion, main message, etc.) should always be text. Many recipients can not see graphics unless they turn them on, so your artwork may not be seen by many of your recipients anyway. So keep the valuable information as system text and only use images to create visual impact.
  2. Not planning for the preview pane. Remember that many recipients will only see your email message in the preview pane before deciding whether to read or delete it. So keep your logo, the email offer and any engaging information at the very top of your email so that the recipient will open the full message.
  3. Using cascading style sheets (CSS). Email software is different from web browsers. Many email programs do not understand CSS and will not use it when it renders the HTML email. So program without it. Instead use inline CSS to format your text, or just use straight HTML.
  4. Using Javascript, Active-X or Flash. Javascript, Active-X and Flash code is blocked in almost all email software. So don’t try to add forms, use animated content or launch windows from your email, as they won’t work. And in many cases they may keep your email from being delivered at all.
  5. Constraining text within a set space. Trying to place copy into an exact placement in an email will hardly ever work. Every email client will render HTML a bit differently, and your operating system, email software, personal settings and available fonts all impact how your text will display. So plan for your email text to have room to expand and don’t limit it to a set space. Also, don’t force line breaks, or you may have awkward line breaks and text formatting.
  6. Using copy that triggers spam filters. Make sure you don’t use the most common spam keywords. Don’t use all caps or overuse exclamation points.
  7. Not testing in a variety of email software. Everyone should set themselves up with the free email services offered by AOL, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and Hotmail and make sure they have a version of Outlook to preview test messages. It’s also good to check your email on a Webmail account and maybe even a mobile device (Blackberry or Treo, for example). Leave the default settings and see how your emails look when they arrive. You might be surprised to see how some email software will mangle your HTML, even when it looks great in a web browser.
  8. Rushing campaign delivery Mistakes are made when proper coding and testing procedures are not in place. Leave time for planning, development, testing and approvals to ensure your campaigns are mistake-free.

If you’re new to producing email campaigns, these best practices will help you eliminate some of the most common mistakes made by novice marketers. Through experience and lots of testing you’ll get the hang of what kinds of code and layouts work best, and how much time you need to turn around a successful campaign.

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