Don’t Make These 6 Rookie Email Marketing Mistakes

The negative impact of bad email marketing sending habits can be so difficult to bounce back from when you aren’t following some of the basics. If you want to do everything in your power to improve your chances of landing in someone’s inbox instead of their junk folder, make sure you read this so you don’t make any of these 6 mistakes with your email campaigns.

#1. Not being aware of the spam law requirements that have emerged as a result of excessive email address abuse and misuse.

Become more familiar with the intricacies of these laws and, bottom line, get permission from your contacts first (in a way that shows proof).

Those newer to email marketing and U.S. CAN-SPAM Act or Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) (laws that regulate commercial and marketing emails) may not know that you can only send mass emails to those who have given you permission to receive your emails.

We rely on Active Campaign for mass email sending for our clients and they adhere to best email marketing practices and email marketing regulations so that email marketing can be as effective as possible. They aren’t the only ones that do this. MailChimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, HubSpot, etc. all follow these strict guidelines so even if you aren’t using ActiveCampaign, you’ll want to set yourself up for success for any sending platform you use.

Side Note: If you are considering using a mass email provider that DOES NOT adhere to email marketing laws and regulations, that should be a red flag to you. You may want to reconsider and think about what actions the provider might be taking that could negatively impact the reputation of your email address, your domain, your brand and your business.


# 2. Getting higher spam complaints than what is acceptable by industry standard (0.1% of a list making complaints is industry standard) will lead to a pause and/or investigation of your account.

Some may decide that they’ll chance it. Upload a whole database to a mass email provider like ActiveCampaign or MailChimp and then send everyone the latest update or message asking for referrals and the rest will work itself out.

Unfortunately, that’s a bad stance. There will be a number of recipients that know they didn’t give permission to get blasted with emails and instead of unsubscribing, they’ll mark your message as spam. If you think that spam complaints won’t affect you and your ability to send emails, think again. The higher your spam complaints, the higher the chance that your account will be flagged, sending will be paused and the source and nature of your contacts and their permissions will be scrutinized with an investigation.

For those who have been trapped in this scenario before, you know it’s no fun and it is a HUGE undertaking to go back and try go get contacts to opt in in writing or using an opt-in form AFTER they have already considered your message spam.

Take a closer read at the terms and conditions of your provider and you’ll most likely see that they require that you have permission to send communications to the contacts that you’ve uploaded.


# 3. Not respecting the rules and your contacts.

You don’t want to blast your message to anyone and everyone you’ve ever met without them even knowing about it.

How would you want someone to treat you and your email address? Would you prefer that your email address is added to anyone’s list without your permission, or would you prefer to have the ability to choose to receive someone’s emails and content?

If you are new to email marketing, you can use a short email like this when you meet someone new to get their permission to keep in touch:

Hi there,

It was great connecting with you recently and I would love to stay in touch and share my newsletter with you each month. I share helpful tips and resources with my list. May I add you to my email list?

Please reply back to this email or click here to fill out this form so I have your permission: __include a link to your opt-in form__.

I look forward to keeping in touch and helping you.

Best wishes,
Your Name Here

If you haven’t read our blog post about Why You Should Thank Your Unsubscribers, this will tell you everything you need to know about why an unsubscribe is a million times better than a spam complaint.

# 4. Forgetting to build an opt-in process into everyday business.

If a client or prospect is already filling out a form for you, add an email marketing opt-in question too. Ask them to check a box if they want to receive helpful resources and information that would benefit them (or whatever content you’re planning on sending them regularly).

This can be a physical form (of which you retain a copy) or an online form that captures the information being submitted. If you use ActiveCampaign for your email sending, there’s an easy way to create an opt-in form that you can use. Ask us for more details if you’re curious to know more.

Then, if your account is ever flagged for investigation, you have the proof to back up the opt-ins of your contacts. Without the proof, it is much more difficult to get back to sending out your emails.

If you like to be thorough, you can implement a double opt-in process where a confirmation email is sent to your contact and they click to confirm they want to receive your emails. This is a great option when you are diligently curating your list and you really only want people on your list that want to receive your emails. This process weeds out those who aren’t serious about receiving your communications.

#5. Skipping over things that can cause your email to end up in spam or junk folders.

Spam filters used by different email providers rely on a long list of criteria to determine whether to mark a message as spam in your recipient’s junk or spam folder. This list of criteria changes and adjusts over time.

While there isn’t a special formula for making sure your emails make it into someone’s inbox, there are 4 things you can avoid so that you have the best chance at getting directly into someone’s inbox.

No. 1) The most important thing you can do is maintain a stellar sending reputation. How do you do this?

Send emails only to those that want to receive them. Aim for zero spam complaints in order to protect your sending reputation. The higher your spam complaints, the worse your sending reputation becomes. Remind people of how they met you and what you are sending them.

No. 2) Email template design and code can impact the deliverability of your emails. Make sure your emails aren’t image heavy. You want a good balance of text and images. We have coded our email newsletter templates to ensure best send results from ActiveCampaign.

No. 3) Be aware of the content you are sending out. There are certain phrases that are considered more spammy than others like “Double your income” or “Lowest price”. We do our best to produce articles that contain content that will not trigger a spam filter. ActiveCampaign has a neat spam calculator feature that it uses on each campaign so you can see what may increase your spam score when sending if you change the articles or add your own content.

If you want to know top phrases to avoid in your email marketing you can read The Ultimate SPAM Trigger Words List: 474 Keywords to Avoid in 2019 prepared by Automational.

No. 4) Be consistent. Maintain similar branding and design and send on a regular schedule so that your recipients remember you and can identify your branding and you based on your design. This helps you to remain easily identifiable in your email sending. If you skip your sending for a few months, you are at risk of your email list becoming stale. To prevent this from happening, make sure you’re sending emails at least quarterly so your list stays current.

# 6. Jumping off the bridge because everyone else is doing it.

Yes, you want to grow your list. Yes, you’re working hard to make new connections and to stay in touch so that you can be top of mind when someone needs your services. This takes time and attention to consistency and to building and nurturing your network.

For some, this slower path is not enough and there is a desperate desire or need to want to speed up the process by purchasing an email list.

Buying a list of email addresses is bad news! The mass email providers out there (ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) respect someone’s email inbox and their own ability to successfully send emails for their clients. They also care about following regulations that are in place for better deliverability. They will not allow purchased email lists to be imported into their systems or used. Technically, it isn’t illegal to purchase an email list, but the use of them is prohibited by a number of email service providers (ESPs).

Marketing and keeping in touch with contacts is about building relationships and trust. If you are emailing someone who doesn’t know anything about you and wonders how you even got their email address in the first place, you are aiming for the total opposite. Do you want to stand out as someone not to be trusted and someone who disrespects the basics?


If you stay clear of these 6 major email marketing mistakes, you will be on track to building loyal, lasting, trustworthy relationships with your contacts and that’s what it is all about!