12 Minute Read

5 Shockingly-Common Email Marketing Mistakes You’re Making

Oh, the joys of receiving emails. Busy business professionals like ourselves can never seem to get away from overflowing inboxes. And, let’s be honest, most of those spammy-looking messages get trashed instantly.

Some marketers believe email is becoming increasingly irrelevant and faces the danger of extinction. However, that perception is far from the truth; in fact, email marketing is becoming more prominent than ever before. It’s labeled as one of the most effective marketing channels, generating $38 for every $1 spent (yes, that’s a 3,800% ROI!) Not only is email marketing a major money magnet, it was also the most implemented B2B marketing tactic in 2019 (used by 84% of marketers).

If email marketing is so powerful, then why do so many emails go unread? It’s no secret that email is a complex playing field, and we’re here to help you play-to-win. In this article, we point out the most common email marketing mistakes we’ve seen companies make, and simple, creative ways to move past them. These hacks will push your open rates and click-through rates higher than you ever thought possible.

Are you falling for the myth that #EmailMarketing is near extinction? Stop. @Jen_RBM reveals why this #ROIdriving marketing channel is here to stay in the @RedBranch blog: Click To Tweet

Email Mistake #1: Not Sending Emails… At All!

If we haven’t made it obvious enough already, email marketing is vital to your business’s success. Over 59% of marketers say email is their largest source of ROI. So, if you’re not using it at all, you’re seriously missing out on significant conversion opportunities.

Feeling stuck on what types of emails to send out? Here are some beginner eblast ideas to get your email stats up and running on a time crunch:

Blog Posts:

  • Show off your latest blog post while simultaneously watering your traffic numbers.

Event/Webinar Invites:

  • Headed to a conference? Let your contacts know.


  • Got a nifty eBook or printable you want leads to see? Perhaps you send it their way!

The “What Grinds Your Gears” Form:

  • If you’re looking to engage contacts and learn more about who they are, send them a form to probe at their most significant pain points. Offer them a little something while you’re at it!

Email Mistake #2: Not Segmenting Your Email Lists

Think back to those annoying spam emails you can never seem to get rid of. What truly drives us to trash them? Often, it’s clear that the message is a mass-email to an entire database, which turns on the ‘this must be junk’ light in our brains. All emails should be sent to the right group of contacts, at the right time, with the right message. To speak to the leads’ needs and capture their attention, you have to segment your lists.

Marketers who use segmented campaigns versus non-segmented report a 760% increase in revenue. While not segmenting is one of the most common email marketing mistakes, it’s one of the easiest to fix. Splitting up your lists by buyer persona (demographics, behaviors, pain points, job title/role, etc.) and funnel stage is step one. Once your lists are good to go, roll out some messaging that makes sense for each of these personas separately.

Feel like you could use a better refresher on what it means to segment your audiences? Check out our starter guide to email marketing for lead generation.

Email Mistake #3: Forgetting to Include a Call-To-Action

The call-to-action (CTA) is a marketer’s partner in crime; it’s the single most critical piece of every marketing email you will ever send. Always make sure that you have one CTA, and that it follows the 3 C’s: clear, concise, and compelling. The reader should never have to dig through your email to figure out the next step. In the marketing world, consumers want information fast and aren’t willing to waste time finding it if it’s not readily available. Keeping your CTAs strong and personalized can improve your conversion rates by over 202%!

Once you have your copy ready, it’s time to decide on the design. Buttons, images, and bolded text are common ways to display CTAs. Whatever makes it stand out from the rest of your email is the way to go!

A strong, actionable CTA reflects through your click-through rates. When analyzing your email stats, keep an eye out for increases and decreases in your rates. If they’re sagging low, choose new verbiage and measure its impact after your next couple of sends.

Email Mistake #4: Not Taking Advantage of A/B Testing

A/B testing is one of the most useful features out there for email marketers, offered by several email marketing platforms such as HubSpot and Mailchimp. It allows us to test the statistical significance of changing individual components of our emails. Additionally, it tells us more about our different lead segments, what they care about, and how they tend to behave. While correlation doesn’t equal causation, this data is still incredibly helpful when it comes to planning out future emails and achieving your open rate and click-through rate goals!

Below are some pieces to test for your next email send. Never test more than one component at a time so you can isolate your results and attribute them to the right place!

Subject Line

Your subject line is your #1 shot at making an excellent first impression. If it sucks, so will your open rates. Subject lines are one of the most common aspects we A/B test at the Branch. Try testing for the use of personalization tokens and emojis (emails with personalized SLs are 26% more likely to be opened). We also recommend testing question SLs versus statements (i.e., should you do something vs. you should do something).

Teaser Text

Teaser text (AKA preview text) is the final piece of your email that gets glanced over before the contact decides whether or not to open the email. While your subject line is the first thing noticed, it’s still crucial to ensure your teaser is second in line. Try and test similar components you did for your subject line.

CTA Copy, Design, Or Placement

Remember the 3 C’s. Try out different variations of CTA copy and see what your results tell you about your contacts’ preferences. For the design aspect, test out different button colors, shapes, sizes, etc. The same goes for where you place it. Are you going to put it at the very top of your email, or the very bottom?


You might not even want to include images in particular email sends. Images will be entirely dependent on your unique brand, who your leads are, and what the email entails. Run a test with and without a picture. Or, perhaps you want to see if a header image produces greater results than a mockup of a resource? Take your pick!

Rookie Email Marketing Mistake #2: Failing to Segment Your Lists. Check out @RedBranch’s recent blog post to learn how to leverage segmentation for your next #EmailMarketing campaign! Click To Tweet

Email Mistake #5: Failure to Test Email Responsiveness Across All Platforms and Devices

You might be proud of yourself for how beautiful your email looks in the web preview. Be careful, because it doesn’t always look as pretty across all email platforms and devices. Many platforms — particularly Microsoft Outlook — don’t support the latest versions of HTML, which can cause your gorgeous templates to look wonky. You’ll also want to ensure you’re fully optimizing your emails for mobile; 61.9% of emails tend to get opened for the first time on smartphones.

If your company doesn’t use Outlook, fear not! Fortunately, our beloved marketing tools like Litmus allow us to see what our emails will look like across all email providers and platforms. If things aren’t looking too hot, try simplifying your email design. While it’s nice to have a fancy, over-the-top email template with a bunch of images, animated gifs, custom fonts galore, it’s not always the most practical route to take. It’s better to have a simple email which loads correctly and looks accurate than a goofy-looking template with images that don’t show up or cause formatting issues. If simple isn’t your cup of tea, try adding in Microsoft/Mobile-friendly code to improve its appearance (buttons.cm is our best friend).

While these aren’t all of the roadblocks bringing down your open and click-through rates, they’re some of the most common email marketing mistakes found in the B2B universe. If you’re willing to tackle these conversion-busters, expect a significant improvement in 2020!

We’ve been a part of the email marketing game for years, so we like to think we’re pretty good at it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed after reading this, or think you could use more hands-on-deck for your B2B email marketing approach, we’d love to help you go above and beyond to transform your strategy.