Email offers the highest ROI of all marketing channels, according to the Data & Marketing Association. The average brand makes about $38 for every $1 spent on emails.
But, not all emails are created equal.
Get it wrong and you’ll lose subscribers, waste money, and damage your brand’s reputation.
Get it right, though, and you can develop an incredibly effective, reliable channel that will connect with your audience unlike anything else.
Here’s an example from the Kopywriting Kourse where we recently helped an online wine merchant improve their emails:
Before: $455 in sales per email
After: $5,400 in sales per email
The only difference between the two emails was the copywriting.
Same audience. Same marketing budget. But dramatically different results just by changing the email text.
Great emails aren’t difficult to write, but many businesses (and writers) make the same mistakes over and over. Here’s a list of the most common email issues we see (and how to fix them):
Common Email Mistakes:
#2.) The email has too many links.
#3.) The email is flat-out uninteresting.
#4.) The emails aren’t sent consistently.
#5.) The brand doesn’t track email behavior.
#6.) The emails have bad subject lines.
#7.) They don’t use autoresponders.
#8.) They don’t get to the point.
#9.) They spend too much time on templates.
#10.) They don’t use templates.
#1.) The email doesn’t have a clear Call-To-Action
MISTAKE: Some people get really shy when they send out emails. Instead of guiding their readers to specific actions, they end up just droning on about vague ideas seemingly out of nowhere. The real problem this creates is simple – it adds no value to the reader’s life, and it’s sort of annoying. Even if your reader is interested in what you’re talking about, they can’t follow up efficiently without a clear Call-to-Action (usually in the form of a link).
SOLUTION: You’re sending emails in order to accomplish something, right? Whether it’s traffic to a blog post, a sales page, a survey, or something else, your goal is to get your readers to take a specific action. So, ask for it. Clearly. Build each email around a single action, make it clear, and make it obvious.
EXAMPLE: Ryan Levesque’s CTA links are easy to find and usually re-state exactly what you’re getting if you click on the link.
#2.) The email has too many links
MISTAKE: Look, there’s nothing technically wrong with sending out value-packed emails that link your readers to a bunch of different places. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’ll never really drive strategic, efficient actions in pursuit of your goals. The more links you include, the more options you’re giving people and the less likely they are to follow through the way you’d really like.
SOLUTION: Here’s a rule of thumb: One email, one CTA, one link. That’s not necessarily set in stone, but if you build your emails around single links it’ll keep things neat, effective, and trackable.
EXAMPLE: Kai Davis sends out direct, focused emails with singular CTAs, usually in the form of one link at the end of the email body.
#3.) The email is flat-out uninteresting
MISTAKE: Your readers’ inboxes are jam-packed with all sorts of messages. Your email needs to be interesting enough to get the reader to open, read, and hopefully click through.
SOLUTION: Just like great subject lines, you can create engaging emails by building around issues that are important to your audience. What questions are they already struggling with day-to-day?
EXAMPLE: Neville’s Kopywriting Kourse emails are both funny and tactical. Readers engage with his emails because they’re entertaining and they offer some unique, relevant value. Instead of just telling his readers about the AIDA formula, for example, this email ends with a fun application of the concept.
#4.) The emails aren’t sent consistently
MISTAKE: Big picture, emails are about building relationships with your audience. Part of that comes down to consistency – just think about how often you communicate with certain friends. If you text or call once or twice a week, it’d feel weird to suddenly stop talking for 6 months (or start calling them twice a day).
SOLUTION: Decide on a schedule and stick to it. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, or monthly – just commit to consistency. Most email services will allow you to plan and automate your sending, so there’s no excuse not to stick to a schedule.
EXAMPLE: Jonathan Stark is one of the most reliable emailers out there. He sends a daily email and he’s carved out a reliable spot in my inbox.
If you’ve got questions about when to schedule your emails and how often to send them out, check out Neville’s guide to some of the most common email questions.
#5.) The brand doesn’t track email behavior
MISTAKE: Every mainstream email marketing tool out there will track various performance metrics for you. Many businesses, though, only bother tracking the most basic KPI’s, like list-wide open and bounce rates. These are important to know, but they don’t give you any idea about the behavior of individual readers. With a little extra effort, you can go much deeper and instead track individual journeys within your audience.
SOLUTION: Most email marketing platforms allow you to tag individual readers based on the actions they take. By tracking behavior you’ll be able to test different ideas, track their performance, and see who responds to what. It’ll give you a much deeper idea of who makes up your audience and what really drives them.
EXAMPLE: Here’s a screenshot from inside Kopywriting Kourse’s email list.
#6.) The emails have bad subject lines
MISTAKE: Are your readers actually opening your emails? If not, it’s probably because your subject lines aren’t good enough. In order to outcompete all the other emails your readers are constantly bombarded with, your email subject lines can’t come across as salesy, boring, or irrelevant.
SOLUTION: Want to stand out? Build your subject lines around your readers’ biggest pains and the questions already on their minds.
EXAMPLE: Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics writes great headlines. They’re specific, relevant, and very clickable.
#7.) They don’t use autoresponders
MISTAKE: Let’s say someone visits your site and opts in to your list in order to get an awesome lead magnet. Is that person suddenly ready for regular newsletter blasts? Have they bought into your brand enough to want your emails?
SOLUTION: An autoresponder is a great way to lead new subscribers through more than just a single opt-in action. Instead, you can introduce subscribers to the most important elements of your brand with an automated sequence of emails. By the time they’ve completed the autoresponder series, new subscribers should be primed for regular emails and a closer connection to your brand.
EXAMPLE: Here’s a look into the Kopywriting Kourse’s autoresponder sequence. Subscribers opt in and then receive increasingly focused emails about copywriting. They’re packed with free content and they’re meant to develop trust, demonstrate value, and foster a real connection with readers.
#8.) They don’t get to the point
MISTAKE: Some email writers try and dress up every message with a grand story, deeper meaning, and all sorts of storytelling extras. Then they’ll ask the reader to take an action. It’s a weird way to ask someone to do something.
SOLUTION: If you’re going to ask for something, it’s better to skip all the frills and just get straight to the point. If you’re going to sell, sell. If you want the reader to do something, make it clear what that something actually entails. For long emails, you can do this by bookending your email with two or three links to the same page.
EXAMPLE: When Laura Elizabeth and Brennan Dunn launched one of their products, they sent out long emails that covered a bunch of different topics. Their core CTA didn’t get lost in all that info, though, because they started and ended emails with bold, clear links to the purchase page.
#9.) They spend too much time on templates.
MISTAKE: Email marketing platforms are packed with features, including the ability to tinker with design elements. You can create a totally unique-looking email or choose from dozens of preset templates on Mailchimp, for example. It’s nice to have that flexibility, but ultimately it’s really a distraction for most people. You can spend countless hours playing around with design, but it’s not going to help you make measurable improvements in your emails.
SOLUTION: Choose the simplest template available and start emailing. You can worry about making things pretty later. Most email marketing platforms offer a Minimalist theme, which is a great starting point. The cleaner your email template, the more efficiently you’ll work.
EXAMPLE: Seth Godin is one of the most prolific emailers out there, and his emails are incredibly simple. He doesn’t waste time on frilly extras, and neither should you.
#10.) They don’t use templates
MISTAKE: Writing every email you send from scratch can be mentally draining and time consuming. Longer term, writing completely new emails will also hurt the development of your voice. Instead of becoming a familiar, welcome guest in your readers’ inbox, an inconsistent voice will turn off your audience and lead to unsubscribes and unpredictable performance rates.
SOLUTION: Use a template. Templates aren’t just a design thing – they’re also valuable ways to structure your writing so that you’re reliably creating emails that your audience loves.
Vickie [Link] was re-writing each email announcing a new podcast. She has 350+ podcasts and was writing an email for each one.
EXAMPLE: Vickie from Vegetarian Zen was writing her podcast announcement emails from scratch. With over 300 podcasts, that’s a LOT of emails – and they didn’t always connect. To fix that, we helped her build a template that effectively highlighted the latest podcast episode to maximize click throughs.
Here’s a before and after look at how Vickie used this template to get more direct and more clickable.
Join Vickie and other members who are getting help with their emails inside the Kopywriting Kourse Community.
10 email mistakes (and how to fix them) CHEATSHEET
|#1) The email doesn’t have a clear CTA||Focus each email on the ONE action you want your readers to take and give them a big bold link to click.|
|#2) The email has too many links||General rule: one email, one CTA, one link.|
|#3.) The email is flat-out uninteresting||Don’t be boring! Engage readers with humor, stories, and real value.|
|#4.) The emails aren’t sent consistently||Commit to a consistent schedule (pro tip: use automation)|
|#5.) The brand doesn’t track email behavior||Tag your readers based on their behavior.|
|#6.) The emails have bad subject lines||Tie your subject lines directly to your readers’ specific pain points and pressing interests.|
|#7.) They don’t use autoresponders||Create autoresponders to onboard new subs, buyers, and for product launches.|
|#8.) They don’t get to the point||If you’re going to sell, sell. If you want the reader to do something, make it clear what that something actually entails.|
|#9.) They spend too much time on templates.||Don’t overthink your email design. Choose a minimalist template and start sending|
|#10.) They don’t use templates||Templates can make your writing process easier, quicker, and more effective.|
Hope this helps you avoid mistakes in your future emails!
Dan McDermott – Danmcd.me