7 Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Improve your email marketing program by fixing these common mistakes.

By Ashley Prior, BDI Digital Implementation Specialist 

I work on a lot of emails. Last year alone, the BDI Digital Implementation team built upwards of 1,500 emails for our clients! You might think I’ve grown tired of email building, but it remains one of my favorite parts of my job. I know firsthand how tricky building an email template can be, but I enjoy tinkering with our content to create a great campaign.  

For many nonprofits, email marketing cannot be ignored. It helps drive traffic to your site, increase donations, raise awareness and much more. However, without the proper training or strategic direction, email marketing can be filled with easily avoidable mistakes and misconceptions.

In this article, we’re going to explore 7 of the most common email marketing mistakes and how you can fix them to improve your email marketing program! 

MISTAKE #1: Not Utilizing Templates

If you are struggling to keep your email marketing campaigns consistent, consider using a template. This will help your emails maintain the same tone throughout and keep them all looking extra professional. 

Be sure to include your logo and consistent brand colors to bring the overall feel together and reinforce recognition. This will also make changing up content or sending out new campaigns less of a hassle since you’re not starting from scratch every time. 

MISTAKE #2: Not Using Personalization 

Everyone likes to feel special! Being addressed by your first name creates an instant connection with the email you’re reading. Most email platforms have made it easy to add in personalization tags and to customize a default if a first name is not available (we like to use “Friend”). 

At BDI, we try to add in first name tags in the subject line and copy, whenever appropriate, to catch the attention of the recipient and personalize the content. This is an easy fix to implement, so be sure you’re using personalization wherever it makes sense in your email marketing program.

MISTAKE #3: Always Asking 

When you are emailing your supporters, it’s important to first understand why you are reaching out. Though you probably want to get something out of the interaction – whether that’s increased donations or website traffic – you still need to foster a relationship with your audience. If every email asks for donations, your audience members will become disengaged and (gasp!) unsubscribe. 

Try to find a content balance to increase engagement from your subscribers by adding a monthly newsletter, prayer team updates, volunteer spotlights and surveys to the mix. Keep these campaigns separate with clear, differentiating calls to action and make the content as relevant and relational as possible. 

MISTAKE #4: Impersonal Sender Names 

Many organizations use an impersonal sender name, such as “noreply@company.com” or just the Organization Name. All this tells your audience is that this email is not from a real person. 

Even if your email really is just from the organization as a whole, use a sender name that’s from a real person, such as your Executive Director or your Development Director. You’d be surprised at how this one small tweak can make a big difference in getting people to actually read your emails.

MISTAKE #5: Forgetting Preview Text 

Effective preview text can make or break your open rate! Preview text appears in your customers’ inboxes right after your subject line:

Most email platforms now allow customization of preview text in the email setup stage. Stick to 35-90 characters to gain the subscriber’s interest. Your open rates will thank you! 

MISTAKE #6: Not Designing for Mobile 

As audiences continue to use smart devices to read their email, it’s crucial to optimize your emails for mobile devices. Take the extra few minutes to test your email on mobile: Check that the font sizes are legible, the images size down or stack properly, and that the alignment of your email’s elements works. 

Invest in an email platform that allows you to build your email in both mobile and desktop views to create a seamless process so you can always be sure your messages come through loud and clear. 

MISTAKE #7: Creating Image-Based Emails (and Forgetting Alt Text) 

Many of your readers may view emails with images turned off. Having an email that’s built only with images or too reliant on images will create a negative experience for these subscribers. Be sure to use alt text behind all images to give context to your email. 

Additionally, try to build out the textual components of your email within text boxes to create a better flow and make your communications really shine. 

Ready to press send? 

Now that you know 7 common email marketing mistakes – and what you can do to fix them! – you are well on your way to engaging in more productive, rewarding conversations with your readers. Most of these fixes don’t require detailed digital savvy or big budgets to implement, and they’ll go a long way toward building stronger relationships with your donors and improving your email marketing program.

If you’re still unsure about whether your digital communications are on track, the BDI team is here to help. You can reach our Digital Team at websupport@bdiagency.com with any questions about email marketing or creating an effective email fundraising program. Happy emailing! 

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  • Ashley Prior

    Ashley Prior, Senior Digital Implementation Specialist

    Prior to joining BDI, Ashley gained extensive digital marketing experience working at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, she has served at charities nationwide, including the Alzheimer’s Association and several educational organizations. Her work has spanned everything from social media management to email marketing, event planning and public relations.

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