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Sam Dixon

I’m a straight-talking marketing consultant and business mentor working with ambitious women to launch, grow and scale their businesses.

7 top email marketing mistakes

I absolutely love email marketing.  Especially for small businesses.  I get it.  Often seen as the less exciting and less creative cousin to social media.  But I see it time and time again, business owners get sucked into social media.  And are then left with little time or energy for activity such as email marketing.  And it often ends up being a bit of a token effort. Which is a shame. Because it’s one of the best forms of marketing to grow and nurture an audience but it’s also great at converting into sales.

So I’ve flipped this blog.  Instead of it being 7 top tips (after all you can get my 5 top tips to grow your email list here) I’ve spent time critiquing a number of emails I’ve had coming into my very own inbox to highlight common mistakes that are made from small business owners.

Have a read.  And if you spot one that rings true for you, make that change and let me know how this blog has helped you.

1. Poor personalisation

We all know that personalisation uplifts engagement and open rates.  And I know it’s tempting to use it throughout your emails.  But please, you don’t need to drop in Sam in every given sentence. It loses its impact.

And when it comes to personalisation.  Make sure you’ve got your data capture set up correctly.  When someone says ‘Hey SAM DIXON”, and chats to me like we’re buddies it makes me want to delete the email right away. No surname or caps are necessary.

2. Use email marketing just to sell

Email is great for converting an audience.  After all, you’ve created a list and an audience who have actively said they want to hear from you.  They’re not vanity numbers.  People sign up as they want to hear from you and from they expect to receive offers, updates and deals.  But be sure to intersperse your sales emails with emails that are packed full of content. That deliver value. And builds that know, like and trust. Don’t keep your emails for that ‘monthly email newsletter’ that goes on forever!  And don’t get me started on the term newsletter.

3. Don’t overpromise with your subject line

Yes, you need that subject line to stand out in a cluttered inbox, but the moment your subject line is miss-matched with the content of the email you’re sending, is the exact moment you lose trust with your audience.  Be intriguing, be curious, and offer insight as to why someone should open your email  but stay away from sensationalist headlines.

Whilst I’m talking about subject lines – if anyone ends up in my inbox and using the subject line “{insert month here} newsletter” I’m gonna have to unsubscribe right away. 

It’s the year 2000 and you’re not a bank!

4. Optimise for mobile

I’m seeing this less and less.  But please, there are tools out there, make sure your email is optimised for email.  And before you send, have a look to see how your emails looks on a mobile. Don’t just check it on your desktop.  Even if it’s optimised, does it look enticing to read? Or does your short and snappy email with quality content look more like war and peace. Make sure your email has a balance of images, headers and buttons to break up your content.

5. Use of too many images

I’m not talking about the general mix of images and copy.  I’m talking the use of images for all your emails.  Sometimes the best emails are the ugliest.  And so I know it’s tempting to make them look pretty and include your email as one big image, but in terms of deliverability and readability, it’s a massive fail.

6. Optimise day of week and time of day – use scheduling

I know it’s tempting to send emails once you’ve created them.  Get it off your to do list But step back and think, when do I think my audience is online?  Of course you can test this – email platforms give you the tools to do this and when I worked in corporate marketing we had our best performing day of week and time of day down to an exact science.  In the absence of running tests (and if you can, please do), use your gut instinct as to when you think your audience will be online, checking emails and in the mindset of reading your emails.  A general rule of thumb you’ll find Tuesdays and Thursdays perform well (avoid Mondays if you can) and the following times perform well, before 8am, around 10am, between 3 and 4pm.

7. Check your CTA and links

There’s nothing worse don’t you think in being interested in something we find on an email but the links don’t work or send us to the wrong place.  Before you hit send, as well as checking for spelling mistakes and poor grammar, make sure every single link is correct, every button goes to the right place and images have links behind them.

If you’ve got this far, and you’ve realised you’ve got some changes to make, then quite frankly I’ve done my job.  I’m thrilled you’re getting stuck in with email marketing and if I can help optimise your efforts then I’m happy.

If you haven’t already, download my free workbook to help you grow your email list.

And if you’ve like my help on your email marketing strategy, let’s work together 1:1 or join me at one of my upcoming email marketing workshops here.


I’m Sam Dixon, founder of Thrive With Sam Dixon, a Marketing Consultant and Business Mentor to ambitious businesswomen who want to launch, grow and scale their business with flexible marketing support. 

I’m always up for connecting with ambitious women who run their own businesses. If you’ve got a particular challenge with your marketing, let’s chat. Book in for a free discovery chat here.

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