Seven of the Most Common Email Mistakes and How to avoid them


To err is human. But the smarter human will learn from errors. At Hendrix Media, we’ve seen a great deal of email marketing mistakes in our time. Enough to spot the usual suspects a mile off – we mean those mistakes that come up time and time again across all organisations. To ensure your email campaign is a success you’ll want to watch out for these and steer clear of them. How? Know thy enemy: Here are our top 7 of the most common marketing mistakes, and some tips on how to avoid them.

  1. Broken Links

While this may seem like a small mistake to make it can be the most damaging to your email campaign. And that’s why it’s number one on our list. Broken links are like shooting your email campaign in the foot: your campaign will FAIL and the email you spent your time on will be wasted.

All of us at Hendrix Media know that Muslim charities are stretched on resources. We also know that when things are really busy, a few minutes spent on checking all the links in an email can seem like a waste of time. But the real waste is when all that time your organisation invested in creating those emails and the landing pages they link to, goes to naught. All thanks to a single broken link, which prevents your campaign from working as it should.

It’s an easily avoided mistake: just schedule another ten minutes into the time given to writing an email, and you’ll have no regrets later.

  1. A bad subject line

All of us have been there: You’ve written the masterpiece of all emails, fired off a subject line, and clicked send. Only after do you notice that dreadful typo, or worse, realise that your subject line is too generic or doesn’t even correspond to your email.

First things first, breathe. We know you’ve got remorse, but hiding until it blows over isn’t going to help anyone. Instead, have a solution and system in place to make sure it never happens again. We’d recommend lots of people checking the email before it gets sent out, because every brilliant writer needs a second pair of eyes.

Secondly, make sure you give an email subject line the time and attention it deserves. Look at what’s been sent in the last week or so to avoid a generic one. You should spend at least ten minutes coming up with ten different options for subject lines. You should then consult your team for feedback. Not only will this prevent similar mistakes in the future, it also means you get the best subject line possible, by popular vote.

  1. Not optimising emails for mobile devices

So we’ve got a confession to make: One of the most frustrating things for us at Hendrix Media is to see an awesome email that just isn’t built for mobile devices. It is true that more Muslim charities are starting to address this, but we know we still have a long way to go.

Think about it. We’re living in a fast-paced society where people rely more and more on their mobile devices to get or do things on the go. You cannot take a chance on this and hope your donors will open your email at their desk or on a computer.

To ensure that your email is built for mobile, you’ll want the text to be large enough to read, and a layout that is either responsive or mobile friendly. You should also take a few minutes to check that your buttons, links and calls to action are large enough to click on and not too close together so that people accidently click the wrong link. Appearance is everything. There is nothing more likely to put someone off of reading your email than one that’s jumbled up, ugly or just plain irritating on mobile.

  1. Emailing people who have not given you permission to do so

Don’t underestimate how annoyed people can get from receiving unwanted emails. In previous years it’s become more and more important to make sure you have permission from the people you’re emailing.  We know that with limited resources, Muslim charities don’t always have the best systems in place. But if you’re not keeping track of the people who have opted in or out of receiving emails from your charity, you could be breaking the law! So start keeping those records if you aren’t already.

  1. Never cleaning up your email list

If this sounds strange to you, then all the more reason to pay attention. How do you know if your email list has been cleaned recently? It’s simple –if it hasn’t then you’ll have people on there that have never/not opened an email from your charity in over a year.

Time frames for who you decide to purge can vary. But the most important thing is to ensure you do purge, and that you purge consistently. Not purging will affect your deliverability rates, and this will mean you’ll get poorer results on your email campaign.

Remember, email marketing success is about quality, not quantity. It’s always better to have a smaller, engaged mailing list than a large one full of recipients who don’t care about your emails or the work you do.

  1. Handling honest mistakes badly

Everyone can make a mistake, and even the biggest companies have done so at some point or other. The worst thing you can do in this situation is sit and mope. The best thing you can do is acknowledge it! Admitting your mistake, correcting yourself and sending out an apology to your supporters, shows transparency and accountability. It will definitely make a good impression.

But of course, that’s not all you do. Once the apologies are out the way, you’ll want to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. Establish an organisational plan or procedure that minimises your chances of reliving something like this. We’re thinking:

  • Get at least two other people to check the email before you send it.
  • Read it out loud to yourself.
  • Consult others to make sure it delivers the message you want to deliver and packs the potential to make the impact you want.
  1. Not sending out emails at all

Last but not least: the most obvious mistake. Not sending out emails is much more common than you’d think. Especially among smaller organisations or during times of transition. If this applies to you, then read on…

Usually there are two scenarios in which you might find yourself making this mistake (the error can be rectified in both cases, so don’t worry):

  1. You’ve been collecting email addresses and have a mailing list, but you’ve never sent out emails.
  2. You’ve never collected email addresses, don’t have a mailing list and so can’t send out emails.

Let’s address the first scenario, and what you have to expect. The most important thing is to remember that once you start emailing people on your list, you are likely to get unsubscribers and spam complaints. A way to avoid this is to offer recipients a great reason not to unsubscribe. Alternatively you could include a very candid, straightforward line about why they’re receiving emails from you. It might read something like: ‘A while ago you signed up to our mailing list, but we weren’t ready to send great emails then. Now we have some amazing news/tips/advice to share, which we believe you’ll benefit from. We are excited to be sending you our first email, and hope you’ll look forward to hearing from us every month from now on.’

With the second scenario, you’re pretty much starting from scratch, so get collecting that data fast! There are many ways to do this, but one simple method is by adding opt in options to parts of your website or other online platforms. These could be:

  • As a simple sign up form at the top or bottom of the navigation page on your website.
  • A pop up or overlay which comes up on your website when people have been on there for around 2 minutes (To avoid irritating visitors you’ll want to make sure it only appears once a week.)
  • A sign up box on your organisation’s Facebook page.

Email can be the thing that ensures your campaign, events and fundraising is a success. So spend time on getting it right. If you’d like some more advice and pointers, call us for a chat. Meanwhile, here’s a brief checklist of things to watch out for when you’re just getting started:

  • Check that you’re emailing the right people/mailing list
  • Email send address and who from
  • Give your subject line the effort it deserves
  • Ensure any personalisation fields are correct
  • Double check to make sure all links are working properly
  • Watch out for typos
  • Make sure that tracking codes and unsubscribe links are working
  • See how it looks on a smartphone