Top Ten Email and eMarketing Mistakes

Posted on

January 27th, 2012


Avoid The Red X
What arrives is often different than what you think was sent

When using  eMarketing or email communication, it’s better to focus on what is likely to arrive, than on what might look good on your computer screen. In other words, think about what the email will appear as when delivered, as opposed to the original which you perceive was sent. Here is a list of ten important eMarketing (or business email) mistakes to avoid.

  1. Do not use an enhanced email signature: If your email signature (your name, contact info, etc.) uses a large font, is boldfaced, or appears in a different color, this is called “shouting” in email jargon and Outlook Junk Mail filters and corporate email filters don’t like this. Your email is more likely going to arrive in a spam filter or email junk folder. This is true for large scale eMarketing campaigns and your individual personalized emails.
  2. Don’t use an HTML email: These days text base emails stand a better chance at getting past junk mail and corporate email filters than HTML emails. Besides, if you’re using HTML, you’re more likely to take advantage of special fonts, invoking some of the issues noted in rule #1.
  3. Avoid words like “free”: It’s one of the most common words activating junk mail and corporate email filtering. It’s right up there with the prescription dysfunction drug names and other spam alert words and phrases.
  4. Don’t use colored fonts: Spam filters will sometimes filter these out because they think it is an advertisement, it’s similar to rule #1.
  5. Don’t italicize, underline or use exclamation points:  Again, this is a form of shouting.
  6. Avoid rush words or phrase: “Act now, offer good today, respond soon, or sale ends tomorrow” are all examples of rush words or phrases. This is a big red flag for filters, sounds like a sales ad and shouldn’t be used.
  7. Avoid using your personal email for business communication:  AOL, Yahoo or Gmail type accounts can cause two issues for spam filters. These personal email accounts are often the source of “spammy” emails (you’ve probably seen these in your junk mail folders), as they are free to set up and easy to abandon. Thus, if you use any type of special characters (shouting) or accidental use of rush words from these types of accounts, your personal email (which is why it should not be used for business) is more likely to appear as spam.  Get a business email setup. For example, costs almost nothing to set up and use and conveys a more professional image than a Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL type email.
  8. Avoid Bayesian Poisoning: Odd or complex phrasing can invoke something called Bayesian Poisoning, which appears to be an attempt to bypass Bayesian spam filtering and results in your email looking like spam. The best way to avoid this is the old, “simpler is better” rule. Keep your eMarketing campaign emails simple and succinct whenever possible, which isn’t a bad idea for general business correspondence either.
  9. Avoid Graphics when possible: Graphics often display poorly, especially for text base email clients. When sending B2B eMarketing Campaigns, use multipart mime to ensure optimum rendering. When  sending individual emails, don’t assume what you see is what they get.  WYSIWYG may be true for the email you’re looking to send, but what arrives can be a completely different story. Remember all the retail advertisements you receive and the blank real-estate and little red X’s which appear everywhere? Not only can graphics create a poor look and feel, they can increase the likelihood of appearing as spam. Graphics often connote an advertisement.
  10. Graphically Rich Email - eMarketing Best Practices
    Graphically Rich Email - Use eMarketing Best Practices

    Don’t include too many graphics above the fold: When you deem it necessary to send graphically rich emails, like newsletters, make sure the delivered email can render professionally if the graphics are stripped. The best way to check this is to send a test email to a text based email client and observe the results. In some cases it may be important to use graphics (newsletter, photographs for architects or photographers, schematics for engineers, etc.). These could be conveyed as a link to a landing page, or if you deem it important, you can embed the images. Just make sure that the email is professional and recognizable if these are not displayed in a text client.


For eMarketing campaigns, think in terms of textual email clients and monitor delivery rates carefully. Limit graphics, and ensure your email will look good in a text based email client, or if graphics need to be downloaded (this can be an issue even for HTML clients). For individual email communication, from Outlook for example, consider defaulting to text instead of HTML. And if you do use HTML, refrain from using boldface, italics, capitalization or other forms of shouting. Borrowing a phrase from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the minimalist movement, when it comes to eMarketing think in terms that “Less is more”.

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