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3 Email Marketing Mistakes That Destroy Engagement

If you're sending emails, you might unknowingly be killing your engagement with your audience. Find out how to prevent these 3 mistakes today.

Person, out of focus, with both hands stretched out in a "stop" gesture

Engagement is critical to any email strategy

When it comes to email marketing, engagement is still one of the most important metrics to monitor to ensure ongoing email success.

An engaged audience not only illustrates that your emails are interesting, but also has a positive knock-on effect on the rest of your email strategy.

Why do we say this? Here are three quick facts to support our stance:

  • An engaged audience boosts your email ROI: Engaged subscribers are more likely to open, click, and convert, leading to higher revenue and campaign success. Disengaged audiences, on the other hand, leave money on the table. That's not what you want to happen.

  • Good engagement strengthens email deliverability: Email service providers (ESPs) prioritise engaged senders. Low engagement can land you in the dreaded spam folder, making it harder to reach your audience over time and wasting all that effort you've put into your emails.

  • Engagement provides valuable audience and content insights: Engagement data reveals what resonates and what flops with your audience. You can use engagement metrics to personalise future campaigns, improve subject lines, and refine your overall email strategy.

Let's look at 3 email marketing mistakes that destroy engagement in your email program, and discuss a few practical tips to prevent audience decay and bad campaign results.

Mistake 1 - Always Selling. Never Telling.

Your subscribers aren't just wallets; they're real people seeking value.

Bombarding them with constant sales pitches is a surefire way to lose their interest.

The best way to fix this is to focus on storytelling.

Sharing success stories, industry insights, and helpful tips that genuinely resonate with your readers is a great place to begin. When you connect on a human level, engagement will follow.

How to do this? Here are a few practical ways you can get this right:

Educational Content

Create informative content that addresses pain points and educates your audience.

This could take the form of product guides, proactive FAQs shared in your emails, ways to troubleshoot problems your audience may be experiencing and helpful resources that teach your audience practical tips and insights to solve potential issues they may experience.

Customer Stories

Share success stories that showcase how your product/service has benefited real customers.

These aren't merely limited to testimonials (because we all know many testimonials are untrustworthy or falsified), so use case studies about results your customers have experienced while working with you, along with interviews and lifestyle content that show how your content, product or offer has made a client's life better in some way.

Value First

Make the first part of your email valuable even before pitching anything.

If you lead with real value, you'll not only establish trust with your audience, but you'll show them that you're putting their interests first in your email strategy.

You also want to make the benefit of the value you provide immediate. Suppose you delay your value or do not deliver on what you've promised, such as asking for additional information before sharing a lead-magnet resource. In that case, you'll find that you'll lose the interest of your audience quickly.

A statue with their hand over their face in a facepalm gesture

Mistake 2 - Sending for Many. Not Sending for One.

Mass emails save time, but sacrifice personalisation.

Treating your entire list as a homogeneous group overlooks the individual preferences and needs of your audience, and is an outdated way of structuring your email strategy.

To fix this, segment your audience carefully and personalise what you send them.

You need to aim for an audience of one constantly. One message. One intention. One person. We wrote an entire article on this topic that you can read here, but it cannot be overstated how critical it is to get this right.


How to do this? You can follow these three tips to get this right:

Segment with Purpose

Begin by dividing your list based on demographics, behaviour, or purchase history. There are many opportunities to segment your audience, and we've added a few tips here too.

If you do this well, you'll create ways to customise the in-email experience your audience has with your brand.

It'll carry the additional benefit of showing your audience that you care about their individual needs and goals, instead of them merely being a faceless number in your database.

Personalise Content

Craft emails that resonate with each reader segment's interests, needs and lifecycle stage. Don't merely mention them by name and think that constitutes "personalisation".

If you simply send the same stuff to everyone, you'll only be appealing to a select few. You want your content to resonate with your readers, and personalisation is where this begins.

Acknowledge the interests your individual audience members express, cater to such interests in future communication, and you'll solidify your relationship with the humans that make up your audience.

Use Dynamic Content

Use dynamic fields to insert personalised elements, such as names, custom codes, product recommendations or customised content.

This can be done in most good email platforms (we like the system that TouchBasePro has sponsored for us to share our email knowledge with you). Use the features you have available to ensure your emails cater to individual interests and preferences.

This is also an underrated way to save time building emails! Instead of creating multiple emails for various segments of your audience, create a single email that adapts to their segmentation criteria or preference selections.

An ice-cream cone on the ground with a spilled ice-cream next to it

Mistake 3 - Too Much Winging. Too Little Planning.

Consistency and planning are the backbone of successful email marketing. Shooting from the hip might seem spontaneous, but can result in disjointed and inconsistent messaging.

To fix this, have a solid strategy.

Set a goal for everything you do in email. If you have a plan, you're already ahead of most email senders out there. Planning is often tedious but it will always be necessary.

Stick to your guns. It's survival of the most strategic out there.

How to do this? Here are three things you can do to ensure you follow your plan:

Create A Content Calendar

Create a calendar plan outlining your email topics, send dates, and goals.

It's also recommended to prepare your content and have it proofread a few days in advance of sending an email. This gives you a chance to review your work properly and present yourself and your offer in the absolute best way possible.

It also has the added benefit of helping you avoid errors that might easily have been avoided with some time and thorough review.

Keep Up Consistency

Stick to a regular sending schedule to keep your audience engaged (and keep emails reaching the inbox).

You may not realise this, but campaigns that are too erratic, follow an irregular cadence, and that are sent in an unexpected manner can detriment your campaign success, and impact email deliverability.

Having a solid cadence of emails sent at a strategic frequency will help you share the right information with your audience at the right time. You can adapt this by carefully monitoring your engagement metrics such as your open and click rates.

Keep Testing

Experiment with different subject lines, send times, and content to refine your strategy.

If you test regularly, you'll be able to refresh your content and resonate with what your audience prefers, rather than guessing, or hoping that the same old formula you've been using will continue to work.

Hope is not a strategy.

By testing regularly and adapting to the results of such tests, you can create dynamic, relevant and appealing content that your audience will look out for in their inboxes.

Avoiding these 3 email marketing mistakes that destroy engagement

If you're making any of these mistakes, that's okay! Consider this a chance to get to work and create emails your customers actually want to read.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but these steps are a good place to begin.

In no time at all, you'll see your email results improve, your audience will grow and you'll create an email experience that is befitting of the email expert you are 💌

Before you go! You'll need an audience to entertain before you begin. Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook. Click here or on the image below to get your FREE copy👇

Preview of The Ultimate Database Growth Guide for Email Marketing by Email Expert Africa

Want to become an email expert? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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