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Updated Feb 02, 2024

How to Avoid Creating an Annoying Email Campaign

Abide by email marketing best practices for more effective and well-received campaigns.

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Written By: Andrew MartinsSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Strategy
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As a small business owner, you must constantly consider how customers perceive your brand. One way you might accidentally degrade their perception and harm your reputation is by foisting an annoying email marketing campaign upon their inboxes. While email can be an effective — and cost-effective — marketing method, companies must find a way to enjoy its benefits while building positive customer relationships and respecting their recipients. 

We’ll highlight 10 email marketing best practices and share examples of top marketing software that can take the guesswork out of your campaigns. 

Email marketing best practices and mistakes to avoid

If you want to start spreading your company’s message via email marketing campaigns, follow these best practices to ensure you don’t alienate current or potential customers by being a nuisance.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right email marketing service for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

1. Don’t flood your customers’ inboxes.

Inundating subscribers with your messages can quickly alienate them. Marketers send billions of emails daily, and many go unanswered and unopened. If you send too many messages in quick succession or emails that don’t pertain to your audience’s needs, you’ll likely bore them and risk losing them altogether.

A release schedule ensures your messages don’t go out too frequently. Most email marketing software allows you to set release timetables that vary by message type to ensure a reasonable number of emails arrives in your recipients’ inboxes. 

“We don’t usually send more than one of each a week unless it is a large holiday where there is competition for our customers’ inboxes,” noted Jennifer Neylon, SEO strategist at Best Price Nutrition. “We also make sure that customers don’t accidentally receive multiple copies of similarly targeted emails by excluding certain email lists and segments while scheduling emails.”

Did You Know?Did you know
The most popular email marketing campaign types include email newsletter campaigns, sales and promotional emails, retargeting emails, and lead nurturing emails.

2. Ensure your email marketing messages appeal to your subscribers.

Engaging email subscribers is crucial. Whether through targeted prose, thoughtful images, or a combination of elements, your emails must grab subscribers’ attention. If they don’t, your content could end up in the spam folder or the trash.

Understand who your audience is and tailor your marketing strategy to their preferences. For example, an appealing marketing strategy for teens may look different than a strategy that targets businesspeople. 

3. Avoid weak subject lines.

Finding the right subject line is a common email marketing challenge. It’s the first thing people see when they interact with your brand, so it should make sense and not seem like clickbait. According to Polly Kay of Polly Kay Marketing, failing to craft a good email subject line is akin to face-planting right as the race starts.

“There’s a fine line between incentivizing the opening of an email with a teaser and seeing your email and any subsequent offerings channeled immediately to the junk folder, as it comes across as clickbait,” Kay explained. “A subject line that is misleading, vague or weak won’t incentivize opening, and any subject that doesn’t make it clear what is inside and why your prospect should care is pointless — and annoying.”

FYIDid you know
An excellent subject line can reduce your email bounce rate. In fact, 47 percent of email recipients open emails based on their subject lines, according to Invesp.

4. Don’t use too many graphics or stock photos.

Using straightforward text with only thoughtful and carefully chosen images or graphics in your email body is crucial. While you want to engage your subscribers, sometimes less is more. You may be tempted to create a flashy email design full of graphics, stock photos and call-to-action (CTA) buttons, but it’s best to keep things relatively simple in your message body. 

5. Make sure your CTA is clear and easy to identify.

Your readers must be able to easily identify your CTA. Consumers have very short attention spans — they want to know an email’s purpose within seconds of opening it. If the primary goal of your email marketing campaign is to have your audience follow through with your CTA, it must be clear and easy to find. 

TipBottom line
To improve your click-through rate (CTR), use a "bulletproof" HTML button instead of a hyperlink for your CTA. Bulletproof buttons look great on all devices.

6. Add a personal touch to your marketing emails.

Recipients may ignore or delete messages that seem like unwanted ads. According to Reese Spykerman, CEO of Design by Reese, try to make your messages more appealing and interesting by adding a personal touch. For example, send brand messages that explain your passion for the company as a small business owner or share customer stories about your product.

“No one wants to read an ad,” Spykerman advised. “Emails that look like ads immediately trigger a mental shutdown in the person reading it and either go into trash or are ignored. Good emails are like successful dating: You need to woo the reader, care about them as a human, and spend as much time giving value to them as you do trying to sell something.”

7. Be genuine and avoid cliched messages. 

While adding personal touches like sincere messages is great, you must carefully consider your tone. Attempts at adding a personal touch can easily miss the mark and sound fake and stilted. This was particularly apparent during the past several years when many marketing messages directly referenced the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on people’s lives. 

Nick Farnborough, co-founder of Clavis Social, said it’s become too easy for business owners to reference current events to hook readers. “‘I hope you are well in these difficult times’ has been sent to me about 1,000 times since COVID began,” said Farnborough. “It has been the most annoying opener. There is no replacement for offering value first, and that is by actually caring and getting to know the people you are reaching out to.”

8. Provide value to each reader without being pushy.

If your message doesn’t offer something your readers don’t already have or promise to make things better for them, then they have little incentive to keep opening your messages. This becomes even worse if your tone comes off as forceful.

“I think that it’s important for every email to provide value to each recipient so that it’s less likely to be considered annoying,” explained Michael Anderson, SEO manager at collystring. “Additionally, the verbiage can usually be framed in a certain way to avoid sounding too pushy.”

Instead of asking people to buy your product, Anderson advises that you explain its benefits before offering a discount code. “Ideally, you want the user to think that they came to the decision to purchase something from the business as opposed to the other way around.”

9. Ensure your email lists are clean and segmented.

Your email subscriber list is a significant element in your marketing campaigns. Whether you buy one from one of the best list broker services or build a quality email marketing list organically, you must ensure your data remains clean, consistent and segmented.

You need a well-maintained email list to reach your target audience consistently. Sending messages to old or inactive email lists is pointless, and reaching the wrong people is an exercise in futility. 

“One of the main reasons why people don’t even open your emails, let alone bother to click on your links, is the fact that the offer is not made for them,” explained Jane Kovalkova, chief marketing officer at The Credit Thing. “If you market to everyone, you’re targeting no one.”

To ensure your messages get to the right people, consider the following strategies. 

  • Segmentation: Email list segmentation splits your contacts into market segments based on predetermined conditions. For example, your welcome email goes to new subscribers, while a discount promotion goes to a specific group of current customers. Segmenting your list can help improve your email open rate, deliverability and responses.
  • Drip campaigns: After you collect and segment your list, harness the power of drip campaigns — pre-written messages that go out automatically based on specific triggers. And the sooner you hit your segmented mailing list at a measured rhythm, the better response you’ll get.

“For some reason, many business owners don’t send out any campaigns at all or even segment their lists,” noted Malte Scholz, CEO and co-founder of airfocus. “Then a time comes up when they want to sell something, and they send a sudden email blast out of nowhere, and they wonder why the campaign flopped. If people subscribe and then they get the first email from you asking to buy something six months later, that just won’t work.”

Scholz stressed the importance of building a relationship with your recipients. “Send an email every now and then, and make sure that every new subscriber gets a welcome email first,” Scholz advised. “You wouldn’t ask someone you’re interested in to marry you on the first date, would you?”

Did You Know?Did you know
Email blasts can be easily confused with spam, so executing them correctly is crucial. Make them concise, appealing and thoughtful, with a clear and on-point CTA.

10. Don’t use a no-reply email address.

Email is a powerful way to connect with people, and you should think of it as a two-way street. When you send marketing emails to your customers, avoid using a no-reply email address. While it may be tempting, a no-reply address can hurt your marketing efforts in two ways: reduced deliverability and poor user experience.

  • Reduced deliverability: Some users have security settings that automatically send no-reply emails straight to their junk folder. This means your carefully curated marketing email may not even reach your customers’ inboxes if you use a no-reply email address. 
  • Poor user experience: A no-reply address can diminish the overall customer experience with your brand. It can be frustrating if a customer wants to reply to one of your emails with feedback (or possibly to opt out of further messages) and receives an auto-response saying their message could not be delivered.

Manage your email campaigns with email marketing software

The best email marketing software can help you create a successful email campaign and avoid annoying recipients. Several excellent options can help you simplify email creation, email automation, list segmentation and contact management. 

Consider the following top-rated solutions to handle your email marketing needs.

  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact has an easy-to-use interface and robust features at an affordable cost. In addition to a drag-and-drop email editor and an extensive library of email templates, it includes A/B testing, autoresponder features, and tools that make improving deliverability and growing your email list easy. Our detailed Constant Contact review highlights the solution’s automation abilities that ensure you send emails regularly based on specific triggers.
  • Benchmark Email Marketing: New businesses will find it easy to get started with Benchmark Email Marketing because of its free and low-cost plans. With Benchmark, you get customizable templates and A/B testing, along with immediate email analytics data that explain your campaign’s performance. Our in-depth Benchmark review discusses the solution’s ability to create automatic responses, surveys and polls.
  • Freshworks Freshmarketer: Freshmarketer uses AI to help businesses optimize their email marketing. In our Freshworks Freshmarketer review, we were impressed with the platform’s SMS and third-party software integrations. 

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

author image
Written By: Andrew MartinsSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Strategy
Andrew Martins is an award-winning expert in business and economics, known for his meticulous analysis of industry trends and his deep understanding of small business dynamics. With years of hands-on experience and on-the-ground reporting, Martins has crafted invaluable guides covering essential topics in small business technology and finance. In recent years, Martins has turned his attention to examining the impact of major events such as the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses. Armed with a bachelor's degree in communication, his work has been featured on respected financial platforms like Investopedia, The Balance and LowerMyBills, as well as technology outlet Lifewire, and the pages of the New York Daily News.
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