7 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing

Email marketing can bring HUGE results for your small business!

It lets you reach right into your customers’ and prospects’ inboxes to connect with them, and to keep your business top of mind.


UPDATED: December 28, 2020

However, if you’re making certain deadly email marketing mistakes, all your hard work can actually backfire on you.

It can mean more work, less credibility, and fewer sales…and no one wants this!

I’ve been a marketer for many years now, and I’ve seen it all when it comes to email marketing mistakes (oh, the stories I could tell!).

Let me save you some grief, by sharing these 7 deadly sins of email marketing you should avoid at all costs.

7 Deadly Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not Having Permission to Email.


There is only one way to add someone to your email list, and that is to have them opt-in.

Your email marketing list should not include names and emails from:

  • Purchased or rented lists
  • Personal contacts you’ve manually added (unless of course they have given express permission to do so)
  • Contacts you’ve acquired through another site, even if you own the other site
  • People who have indicated they want to be removed from your list

There's nothing wrong with manually adding emails you've gotten through trade shows, conferences or even through your personal or business address book, just be sure each person has given clear permission to be added, and has gone through the double opt-in process.

In light of the latest GDPR and CAN-SPAM guidelines, making sure you get permission to email people is even more important.

This includes making sure people know exactly what they’re signing up for, making it easy for people to update or change their info, and keeping a record of people’s consent to receive your emails.

For more on this, check out my post, Are You GDPR Ready? What Marketers Need to Know.

2. The Hard Sell.


I can pretty much guarantee that no one has joined your email marketing list to be constantly sold to.

Make your newsletter all about selling, and you're very likely to start seeing your unsubscribe rates go through the roof!

Instead, make your emails about informing, educating, and entertaining.

Feel free to promote your products or services, but do it sparingly and in a low/no-pressure manner. Some marketers keep to the 80/20 rule – 80% content, 20% pitch – but there are no hard and fast rules.

Feel free to promote your products or services, but do it sparingly and in a low/no-pressure manner. Some marketers keep to the 80/20 rule – 80% content, 20% pitch – but there are no hard and fast rules.Click To Tweet

Test it out with your audience to see what works best for you!

3. Not Proofreading.


It can be tempting to hit that send button without proofreading your email. I mean, who cares about a few typos, right?!

The problem is, there are greater dangers than just a few typos. For instance,

  • Broken links
  • Skewed formatting
  • Incorrect merge fields
  • A garbled text version of your email (this MAY or MAY NOT have happened to me)

An email with formatting errors, poor grammar or obvious typos can seem unprofessional and can give the impression that you just don't care.

It's easy to avoid this by having someone else take a look at your emails before you send them, or by simply sending yourself a test version of the email (both HTML and text) before you send it to your subscribers.

4. Not Telling Your Subscribers What to do Next.

If you’re not telling or showing people exactly what you want them to do next, you could be missing out…big time.

Ok, so maybe this “sin” isn’t as egregious as the others on this list; but doing it can have a HUGELY negative impact on your business!

According to Wordstream, emails with a single call to action (CTA) can increase clicks by up to 371%, and can boost revenue by up to 1617%.

According to Wordstream, emails with a single call to action (CTA) can increase clicks by up to 371%, and can boost revenue by up to 1617%.Click To Tweet

No, that’s not a typo…and here’s the actual use case these numbers are based on:


Some tried and true strategies for getting the most out of your email CTAs include:

  • Use direct, actionable language in your CTA: For instance, Buy Now, Register Here, etc.
  • Use a brightly-colored button. Test out different colors, but aim for something that contrasts nicely from the rest of your content.
  • In general, it’s best to have one – and only one – CTA per email. A confused audience won’t take action!
  • Use 1st person language if possible, as some research indicates this can result in an increase of up to 90% in click rates. Examples: “Start My Free Trial”, “Book My Session”, etc.

5. Coming Across as a Spammer.


Unfortunately, there are many ways you can come across as a spammer…without even realizing it.

Some ways you might inadvertently be doing this include using:

  • An unfamiliar name or email in your “reply to” field
  • Lots of exclamations marks!!!!!
  • Tons of emojis 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥
  • Overuse of words or phrases like free, credit, win, or guarantees
  • Too many images
  • Using numbers or characters in place of letters (like FR3E!)

Fortunately, most email marketing services have spam checkers in place, and will let you know if your email is at risk. Be sure to double-check this before you hit send!

6. Not Using an Email Marketing Service.


You’re not sending emails to your list using your personal email account, are you? I’m talking Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, etc.

This is a HUGE no-no!

This is likely to result in your emails being tagged as spam, or worse, in having your entire account shut down.

When emailing your list, you should always use an email marketing service like Mailchimp, AWeber or my personal favorite, ActiveCampaign.

This will greatly increase your email delivery rates, decrease your unsubscribe rates, and will give you access to a ton of tools you can use to build and nurture your list.

7. Emailing Sporadically.


Make sure you plan ahead and email consistently!

Do you follow a regular schedule for emailing your list, or do you only email them when you want something?

This is one of the biggest deadly sins of email marketing!

Whether you email your subscribers once per month, once per week, or once per day, the key is to be consistent.

Emailing only periodically will mean people will forget about you; and suddenly emailing a bunch of times in a row will likely result in a ton of unsubscribes.

Make a plan for how often you can realistically email your list, and then stick to it!

Final Thoughts

I know some of you are probably thinking, “That’s great, Kim, but first I actually need to get some people on my list!”.

I hear ya’!

That’s why I’ve put together a couple of easy-peasy trainings to help you build your list, fast.

In my workshop, Get Your First 1000 Email Subscribers for Free with These Simple Steps, I show you the exact 4 steps you need to go from 0 to 1000 subscribers; and in my training, How to Build Your Email List with Social Media, I walk you step-by-step through how to move your fans and followers to your list, how to promote your list on Instagram, and more.

You can get both workshops, plus 50+ other trainings and resources by joining my Business Builder’s Academy.


Find out more or join now!

Are you making any of the deadly email marketing mistakes above? Let me know in the comments below! (No judgment, I promise).

Hopefully you're not committing any of these 7 deadly email marketing sins, but if you are, it's never too late to change your ways!

Have you fallen into any of these traps? Am I missing any? Let me know below!

Comment Via Facebook

59 thoughts on “7 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing”

  1. Kim, thank you for this. Any time I get emails proclaiming that something is “Fr3e!” I immediately delete. And I get them from people who ought to know better.

  2. Yes email marketing is efficient if we do thngs right .If not then your better gonna get spam tagged .This are the best things you’ve to remember. thanks for the post. Email Marketing is the best known marketing strategy if we use it wisely.

  3. This is super great! I really was impressed by some of the things that were written. For example, the frequency of how often you contact a customer is something important that I feel like I never seem to pay too much attention to.

  4. I think you make some great points about frequency. We (Computer Market Research) have found through trial and error that an email a week is the best for us. Also, we always send it from the same account so our opt-in list recognizes the sender every time.

  5. Nicholas Waite

    Wow this post was very informative and very true! I actually struggled with #2 and #4 because I would always try to pound people into my business and never provide any value. Now that has changed and my email open rate is decent, great tips Kim!

  6. Great tips Kim. I have been struggling with email and some of these will definitely help me get it right. Thanks 🙂

  7. I wanna say thank you Kim for providing this great information. I feel too good to read this awesome blog. Keep sharing this type of content.

  8. Yes email marketing is efficient if we do thngs right .If not then your better gonna get spam tagged .This are the best things you’ve to remember. thanks for the post. Email Marketing is the best known marketing strategy if we use it wisely

  9. This is an Excellent article. I had been making a few of these mistakes but will surely avoid them now. Keep it up..!

  10. siddhant bijukchhe

    Make your emails more relevant by targeting smaller groups of contacts with a tailored message. Engage your customers and keep them happy with more meaningful content. It helps a lot for any blog or site thanks for introduce it.

  11. Many informative articles have been very nice Thanks for giving such a nice commentary on the article and Happy New Year Happy New Year Thank You

  12. Thanks so much Kim! Point number 4 (Not Telling Your Subscribers What to do Next), is probably where I have been missing the mark big time. I almost couldn’t believe the statistics you showed!

    We seem to always have several things going on that we are promoting, and we end up with 3 or more links in the email.

    Looks like it’s time to try reducing those links for better results!

  13. Really I learn so many things through this post and I will be shared this blog post on social media and thanks for sharing this information

  14. really very useful information given by you. the article is nicely explained and easy to understand. thanks for sharing this post with us. keep your good work.

  15. Wow i must say that it takes years of observation for not doing this silly mistake. i like point number and point number 6 though. happens with me everytime. thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  16. EMail marketing need so many things to be done that people dont even know. thanks for point out some important point and sharing your knowledge with us.

  17. Is there a way we can get someone’s attention through an email because most people don’t even read the email and it goes into their junk mail?

    1. Hi Alyra,

      As said in point number 3, nail your subject. Your email subject lines MATTER!

      They can have an enormous impact on your open rates, so make sure you take your time and test a variety of options before sending to your entire list.

      The most enticing offers will never lead to conversions if you don’t have a way of crafting attention-grabbing subject lines that people can’t wait to click on and open up!

      Check this post to walk you through some strategies and best practices on how to write email subject lines that actually lead to opens and conversions:
      How To Write Email Subject Lines

      This one too:The Secret to Writing Kick Butt Subject Lines

      These posts will definitely help.

  18. HI

    I do not examine the merchandising mail completely overlook this mail but email may be very great to enhance your business

  19. Very good your post on email campaigns. We really have to be careful not to make it a nuisance to the desired audience.

  20. Thank you Kim for this great information. I feel too good to read this awesome blog. Keep sharing this type of content.

  21. I’m a big fan of proofreading. If your emails have basic mistakes in them, why would the reader trust you to build their business? Recurring marketing emails should be written in advance anyway, which could alleviate this concern.

  22. Danielle Gardner

    Great tips here! Regards #7 though I do email sporadically and my audience actually like that I do that. They know that if they seen my name in their inbox I’ve got something important to say.

  23. Thanks KIM for the great post. Some of the mistakes, I was repeatedly doing, which you have mentioned above. Now after resolved it, I am getting a good traffic from emails.
    Thanks again!

  24. one of the best informative blog ever .bookmarked for the future read

    thank you for providing a lot of information

  25. Thank kim,
    as i got to somewhere mail marketing boosts the revenue.
    and we get value of each email.
    and by going through your article i got overall idea about it.

    after how much follow-up mails i can pitch my product?

  26. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this brilliant article and data. It’s truly extraordinary article. It’s a truly supportive article.

  27. jeffery steven stone

    All around point by point article! You Give all the data about Email promoting pleasantly . This is the right article which I was searching for quite a while, this article will help me a ton. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing a particularly delightful post.

  28. Kim your writing skills and knowledge is beyond the expectations. I’ll follow your instructions and I’ll avoid the things you have mentioned for email marketing.

  29. Hi Kim
    Thanks a lot for sharing this info about Email Marketing. I also share this article on social media. keep it up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.