While social media marketing may be exciting, flashy, and innovative, email is still king. Algorithms can be mercurial, and user patterns constantly change. But you have direct access to your audience if you have their email address. 

It has often been said that it is far better to build on land you own than land you rent. Your email list is the land you own, and your social media presence is the land you rent. 

Since email is so vital to successful marketing, you want to make sure that you’re capitalizing on the opportunities it provides. 

Here are seven pitfalls to avoid as you build out your email marketing strategy. 

1. Failing to Welcome New Subscribers

Whether you obtain new emails through a newsletter sign up or a lead magnet, you should always email new subscribers to welcome them to your list. This is your first opportunity to build credibility and cultivate your relationship with new subscribers—to show them the level of responsiveness and professionalism they can expect from you. 

If they don’t hear from you right away, your relationship is already starting off on the wrong foot. 

Therefore, your welcome email should be sent automatically from your customer relationship management (CRM) system or email marketing software, so that your newest subscribers receive it instantly upon giving you their email. 

The email should also contain the delivery of a valuable asset. This may be the lead generating PDF or ebook that led to their signing up for your list, or another surprise-and-delight resource for those who signed up for your newsletter unprompted. 

A good welcome email will also let your subscribers know about the benefits your organization can provide to them and point to other resources and offerings from your organization that they may find valuable. 

2. Writing Subject Lines That Are Boring

An email is only as good as its subject line. And, for the record, “February 2022 Newsletter” is not a good subject line. 

Your email may have great content that will add value to your audience, but your subject line is your only (and very brief) opportunity to give a glimpse into what that value might be. Great subject lines are the ones that create urgency, generate excitement, and spark curiosity. 

Learn more about how to write a captivating email subject line here

3. Being Inconsistent

When someone willingly gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to communicate with them. So take full advantage of that permission with your email marketing. 

Many marketers are worried about sending too many emails for fear of the dreaded “unsubscribe.” That fear may be somewhat warranted. But if you are sending out valuable content, then a certain margin of unsubscribes isn’t the worst thing in the world. 

The people who are unsubscribing are doing so because your expertise, products, or services aren’t a great fit for them. So when they unsubscribe, your audience is refining itself, and open rates may actually increase as a result. 

As far as exactly how often you should email your list, there isn’t necessarily a magic number. But once a week isn’t a bad place to start, and 3-4 emails a week isn’t too much (provided that those emails are, in fact, adding value). 

If your subscribers don’t hear from you, they will inevitably begin to forget about you. The worst case scenario is that your subscribers have so forgotten about you that they don’t even remember signing up to be on your email list, causing them to mark your email as spam

4. Not Optimizing for Mobile

Now more than ever, we are living in a mobile-first world. 

According to research conducted in 2019, mobile traffic accounts for 52.2 percent of all webpage traffic worldwide, with 57 percent of traffic coming from mobile in the United States. If your emails are not mobile friendly, then you’re failing to connect with more than half of your subscribers. 

This means that your subject lines and preview text need to be short enough to be viewed on mobile, your emails should not be too image-heavy, and emails should load quickly.  

5. Having Too Many Calls to Action (or No Call to Action at All)

There is a perfect number of calls to action that every email can have, and that number is always exactly one. 

That call to action can (and often should) be presented in the email more than once, but all the links and buttons should point to one landing page, one decision point, one next step. The reason for that is click-through rates tend to be orders of magnitude lower with each added call to action. If your email contains five calls to action, your engagement will likely be incredibly low. 

On the other hand, you shouldn’t have less than one call to action either. Every email should have a purpose and point your subscribers toward a next step. 

6. Being Too Salesy

While every email should have a specific call to action, that call to action shouldn’t necessarily always be “buy now” or “sign up.” If every email you send to your list is a sales email, your audience will likely begin to ignore you or unsubscribe en masse

First and foremost, your emails should provide value to your subscribers. They should inform, entertain, inspire, and motivate. Sometimes, that means pointing subscribers to the products, services, and events that your organization has to offer. 

Nevertheless, if your emails only ever focus on what you want from your audience rather than the good things you want for them, they will begin to disengage and unsubscribe.

7. Failing to Refine Your Organization’s Voice

People are far more interested in following and connecting with other people rather than a faceless organization. And though your emails may not always be sent from a particular spokesperson or leader within your organization, they should always feel personal.  

The purpose of your emails isn’t only to dispense information. It’s to create a human connection, to build a relationship. The language you use should reflect that purpose. 

Your goal shouldn’t be only that your audience would remain subscribed (even if for no other reason than you haven’t annoyed or offended them enough to warrant an unsubscribe). It shouldn’t even be that they merely open or click-through on emails with some measure of regularity. Your goal should be that they would actually look forward to receiving your emails, because they enjoy hearing from you.