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Paola Bergamini
27 July 2021
Reading time: 6 min.

Anatomy of a Wrong Email: 10 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

From design to delivery, we’ve selected the top 10 mistakes that every marketer should avoid when creating an email campaign. Incorrect links, display issues, and mailings that end up in spam are the key elements to pay special attention to before reaching your recipients’ inbox.

We often dwell on the more sophisticated and specific aspects of a campaign and end up neglecting the basics. However, the latter make up the foundations of an email and determine a message’s effectiveness.

Indeed, the most trivial mistakes are often as imperceptible as the tip of an iceberg: they can have disastrous impacts and cause even the most (apparently) solid and perfect ship to sink.


To avoid a Titanic-like end, here you are with the identikit of the perfect wrong email. We’ve selected the top 10 mistakes not to make in your Email Marketing campaigns.

Top 10 mistakes not to make when creating an email

1. A non-professional sending platform

Even before designing your message’s type, content, and structure, the main pitfall you could come across involves not relying on a professional sending platform. 

A wrong platform makes you vulnerable and potentially more exposed to critical issues that are associated with your delivery capacity. This increases the risk of damage to your reputation as a sender and deliverability errors that are difficult to hold back.

A professional sending platform, in fact:

  • meets safety standards;
  • features IPs on the most authoritative international whitelists, and
  • ensures a high delivery rate for your emails.

These benefits shouldn’t be underestimated when aiming at an email’s potential, that is, one of the marketing channels with the highest ROI ever.

Discover all the advantages of using a sending platform: take a free trial of MailUp!

2. Poor quality database

Prioritizing quantity over quality in building a database is the second mistake to avoid so that you don’t jeopardize your campaigns, even before sending.

Buying mailing lists may seem like the easiest short-term solution. However, in the long run, it has negative effects on the performance of your mailings and can seriously damage your deliverability. Sending messages to uninterested contacts who will hardly ever open your communication or, even worse, could report you as spam, can lead to significant consequences such as:

  • low engagement;
  • erosion of deliverability, and
  • irreparable damage to the brand’s reputation.

3. Bounce management failure

One of the most serious mistakes of all is sending an email campaign to the wrong addresses, neglecting the management of the so-called hard bounces. This will seriously affect your reputation as a sender.

Here, we come full circle with the first mistake: resorting to an unprofessional platform automatically exposes you to the risk of neglecting the timely management of bounces. Instead, a good Email Marketing service, as MailUp has always done, can automatically monitor them, unsubscribe incorrect addresses, and deal with the addresses that are temporarily experiencing issues.

4. Incorrect audience segmentation

You’ve built a quality contact list and chosen a professional sending platform that automatically manages any bounces. Good, but not enough. In fact, all this won’t protect you from the risk of sending the wrong message to the wrong user.

To avoid this error, don’t skip the best practice of segmentation. This is the ability to identify and set up, once the message is ready, a series of tools featured by your platform, i.e. lists, groups, and filters. Select the target of users who are really interested in receiving that type of communication and you’ll increase the chances of reading, clicking, and converting your campaign.

5. Non-optimized subject line and preheader

The subject line and the preheader are among the first elements to be displayed in the inbox. They allow the user to immediately grasp the purpose of the message. In other words, they represent the hook you can throw at your recipients to hopefully grab their attention in the ocean of emails that their inbox gets every day. Infringing the subject line optimization basic rules, using spam words, and even worse, leaving the preheader blank, may seem like venial sins to you. However, they significantly affect the performance of your email campaigns. Therefore, don’t be too generic when filling out your subject line, and do it accurately. Write a complementary summary to provide further information on the content of the message.

6. Unidentifiable sender

This article told us how brand recognition is the main factor which, straight from the inbox, pushes users to open an email in 2021. A sender that contacts can’t easily identify is a pitfall that may hinder the chances of open rate and deliverability growth. Its messages easily end up in the spam box. Prevent this by emailing via subdomains related to the company domain name. This way, your contacts will receive messages from a domain they recognize and trust. Another best practice is to indicate a real name in the sender, giving a more human and intimate touch to the conversation.

Further protect your deliverability and reinforce your brand reputation even more as a sender. Also resort to one of the many authentication methods available on the market, such as DMARC, DKIM, or the more sophisticated BIMI.

7. Unresponsive message structure

Today, about 43% of emails are opened from mobile devices. This figure is expected to keep growing in the coming years. Therefore, use a design which, by default, allows for the construction of a responsive structure for your emails. This isn’t just essential, but mandatory nowadays.

Avoiding dangerous display errors doesn’t entail HTML coding expertise. All you need to rely on is an editor that allows for creating modular design and mobile-optimized emails by default. This is the case of the drag & drop BEE editor that’s integrated with the MailUp platform. To be further covered by any errors, our advice is to check how your emails display before sending them to your contacts. You want to ensure that there are no problems in viewing certain content on mobile devices. In case of issues, the BEE editor will let you hide some content on mobile devices while keeping them visible on the desktop. The Hide on mobile option is available from the Content properties block.

8. Content that’s difficult to read

Making your email content altogether mobile friendly is useless if you fail in making it easy to read. 

Follow the basics of formatting to ensure your recipients can read your content with ease. This means acting on two fronts:

  • readability – Don’t make the syntax of your sentences too articulate and complex.
  • legibility – Don’t create titles and paragraphs with poorly distinguishable characters and too little spacing between the lines.

In other words, make good use of the following formatting tools:

  • split paragraphs by topic
  • bulleted lists
  • use bold to highlight keywords
  • resort to line spacing and letter spacing to let the text breathe

9. Heavy visuals

Besides content, even the images you insert in your messages can generate a series of errors that may seriously compromise the deliverability and correct opening of an email.

One of the most common mistakes is using overly heavy visuals (images, videos, or GIFs). These really slow down the message’s ability to load. Worse, they may even truncate the content and hinder clicking and conversions.

Another fatal error is choosing a low-resolution image or non-optimized animated GIFs. 

Overcome these risks by following these recommendations:

  • keep the image weight below 50 KB;
  • ensure the image resolution is 72 DPI, and
  • select optimized GIFs, like the new BEE editor animations that can be viewed on any email client.

10. Wrong links

Links bridge the email and the landing page for the user to finalize the action and make the conversion happen. Blacklisted or broken links certainly represent the last of the fundamental errors that can hinder the performance of your campaign and prevent even the most interested and predisposed user from finalizing a conversion on your landing pages. You can prevent this. Thanks to tools like Link Analysis from MailUp, the sending platform may work for you. Just check the reputation and validity of the links directly from the Check section:

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Tips for optimizing emails and avoiding any errors

All of this dealt with the mistakes you must avoid when creating an email. Now, here are some tips to avert panic and any kind of risk:

  • Before each sending, always check out the message. Then send a trial email to yourself to verify that you didn’t make any of the aforementioned errors.
  • Carry out periodic A/B tests to find how to optimize some elements of your campaigns, such as the subject line, the summary, or even the text formatting. This practice will help you determine which version of the same message gets the best performance. Hence, you’ll consolidate certain design options according to your audience.
  • Carries out audits on a regular basis to then analyze the progress of a campaign and identify any critical issues and weaknesses to be improved in the future.


As you might have figure out, relying on a professional sending platform is the first step in protecting your campaigns from errors that could compromise your mailing performance. If you haven’t tried out the full potential of MailUp, then request a free, no-obligation trial and experience all the advantages of using an Email Marketing service that works for you.

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Paola Bergamini

I was born in 1993 in Como and I escaped from this little town to study in Milan, where I graduated in 2017 in philosophy. I've always been interested in marketing and communication and I love writing and reading. As Content Editor at MailUp, I try to keep up to date with Email and Digital Marketing news, in order to share trends, theories and tools about this constantly evolving sector.

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