Net Atlantic Inc. Professional Email Marketing and Email Deliverability Experts

Professional Email Marketing

Common Email Marketing Mistakes ... And How to Avoid Them

By the Net Atlantic Marketing Team

Part of the process of email marketing is minimizing mistakes. There are many ways to do email marketing incorrectly, and even an expert email marketer can appear uninformed when simplest of mistakes are made. That’s why we compiled a list of various mistakes we’ve seen over the years, and how to avoid them.

Here are the email marketing gaffs and mistakes to avoid:

1) Neglecting Your Sender Reputation

Do you know your Sender Reputation Score?  No?  Never heard of it?  We aren’t surprised!  Many email marketers pay no attention to their sender reputation score.  This mistake is costly in that it can negatively impact your spam rates.  The lower your score, the more likely the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is to send your email straight to the spam folder!

What is a Sender Reputation Score?  ISPs set these scores based on daily email volume, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates. Sender Score offers free score analysis, and like a personal credit score we recommend finding out where your organization falls.

Improving your Score starts with knowing your Score, and then tracking any changes that take place when you launch an email campaign.  If your score is 90 or below,  using a multiple blacklist search tool like Multirbl or MXToolbox is a great way to know where to start.  

2) Not keeping your subscriber list clean, letting your list stagnate over time 

Tools like ListBuddy can not only rid your list of misspelled or defunct email addresses, it also finds lost customers and exposes bogus and malicious addresses.  Get your list clean, and keep it clean. Result: higher levels of engagement (opens and clicks) which means your message gets better treatment by ISP and mailbox providers.

3) Using poor list-building processes   

Organically growing your subscriber list means people are opting in regularly and steadily. These are the kinds of new subscribers you want. 

Alternatively, if you buy a mailing list, the recipient is not expecting your email. So they unsubscribe, or send your message to spam. Spending money to buy email addresses will most probably have a serious negative impact on your Sender Reputation, at a price far more costly then the initial price of the email addresses.

4) Sending content that just isn’t relevant

Emails with poor content, or no content, will drive a recipient to send the email to Spam.  Good content is organic, original, unique, expected, and interesting. The goal is to have your subscribers interact with your emails – click the links, buy the products, forward to a friend or colleague.  If you send good relevant content, it will improve your subscriber engagement.

5) Being haphazard and inconsistent with your sending cadence 

Emails should be timed for their relevance.  Being predictable by sending regularly timed emails allows your subscribers to look forward to their “Monday morning coffee with” your organization’s latest offerings.  Create an email campaign calendar and monitor the outcome of each send. Aim for the sweet spot between sending too few and sending too many emails. 

Resource: Check out our article “The Optimal Times to Send Email Marketing and Post on Social Media” for a quick guide on the best sending strategy based on platform.

6) Using poor opt-in practices

As a general rule, we highly recommend using email marketing industry best practices. Using Confirmed Opt In (COI), also known as Double Opt In as well engaging new subscribers as they sign up are two best practices we recommend.  In addition, a prompt Welcome email just might help you avoid a new subscriber from “forgetting” they subscribed in the first place – which leads to unsubscribing, or worse yet, marking your email as Spam.

7) Sending to spam traps 

Spam Traps are an indicator of poor list practices: 

One type of Spam Trap is known as “Pristine”.  This is an email address created by an ISP or blacklist organization that is posted far and wide across the internet in the hopes that unsuspecting agencies or email marketers will ‘harvest’ the email address.  Once that address is part of your list, you can be sure it will be caught and you will be blacklisted. 

Another type of Spam Trap is a recycled email address.  These are a bit trickier to navigate. Here’s why.

We all have email addresses from way back in the day that we no longer use.  Most of the time we can’t remember the password, if we can even remember the address!  What happens to a defunct email address is that it gets closed by the ISP.  Incoming emails get bounced back to the sender.  This is a heads up that the address should be removed from your mailing list.  Some months later the ISP may reactivate the email address as a spam trap.  If your organization is still sending emails, the ISP will blacklist you for not following best practices and removing the recipient from your subscriber list.  Again, and we can’t say this often enough – keep your lists clean!

Many a marketer has made the mistake of hopping from ESP to ESP in hopes of getting off a blacklist.  The fix is simple – clean your list (don’t buy lists, and don’t scrape or harvest email addresses). 

8) Using spam trigger words in your email subject line 

Trigger words change with the times and are those words or phrases that ISPs look for which will send your organization straight to blacklist jail. These are words or phrases that over-promise with the intent to extract information from the recipient, or sell them something. 

For more information on crafting a strong subject line, read: 10 Tips for Split Testing Email Campaigns and Net Atlantic Expert's Guide to Email Marketing

You can also check your subject line against Mail Meteor’s list of 750 Spam Words to Avoid in 2022

Once you have crafted your subject line, we suggest running it through a subject line checker such as:

Email Subject Line Grader
Glock Apps

9) Not using an email Preheader

A PreHeader is a kind of second subject line.  It’s the movie blurb below the title. The title grabbed your attention, but the blurb is what made you decide to venture out to the cinema.

An email message’s preheader shows in email clients after the email subject line. A preheader gives you another chance to help the reader decide to open your email. Every email should use a preheader.

10) Ignoring your mailing statistics

Building a successful email marketing strategy is serious business.  The plan should involve budget, content, frequency, market segmentation, and yes, campaign tracking.  How do you know if your email marketing campaign was successful? Tracking your open rates, unsubscribe rates, click throughs, etc. is just the beginning. 
Identify your campaigns Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and develop a system for monitoring them.  Your Email Service Provider should include tools on their dashboards to assist with this.

By segmenting your list, you can track how each campaign is received by the particular segment:

    • Age
    • Location
    • Geographical details
    • Sales cycle
    • Interests
    • Language
    • Previous purchase history etc.

Research has also confirmed that when people get an irrelevant email:

    • 27% will unsubscribe
    • 60% will delete
    • 23% mark as spam

This loops us right back to Sender Reputation.  

Tracking your campaign by targeting segments on your list is easy to do when your ESP has pre-built segments.  For example, Net Atlantic has ready-to-use segments including:

    • Members who clicked any link in the last 30 days
    • Members who have not clicked on any links in the last 30 day
    • Has been on the list for 95 days but has not engaged
    • Members who did not open a specific message
    • Email Addresses That Begin With A to E
    • Members who joined the list in the last 30 days
    • Members who joined the list in the last 365 days
    • Members who have not opened a message 90 days
    • Members from a specific domain name


11) Neglecting to Follow Data Protection Guidelines and Laws

Personal Information Data Protection is a topic we see in the headlines more and more.  Countries are becoming more strict with what personal data can be collected, how it can be used, and how much control the data subject (the email subscriber) has over their data. The European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation is one example of how countries are now protecting their citizens’ right to privacy.

What is the GDPR? 
Implemented in 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation is a privacy law requiring companies not only to safeguard personal data, but also to give individuals more control over how their data is used.  As with most laws in the European Union, this one has some pretty serious teeth to it with fines that can reach 4% of global revenue or €20 million, depending on the violation.

Does this law apply to companies outside the EU?
Absolutely!  The law is extra-territorial in scope, and protects the rights of the “data subjects”.  A “data subject” is defined as any person in the EU including citizens, residents, and even visitors, depending on circumstance.  Therefore, if your subscriber list includes anyone in the EU, it is important to know what your responsibilities as an organization are.  For those companies in the United States, it is recommended that you conduct an information audit for EU Personal Data.
Confirm your organization needs to comply with the GDPR by determining what personal information you collect, and whether or not any of it belongs to people in the EU. 
If the answer is “yes”, then reviewing your collected data against Recital 23 will help determine if your data collection is subject to the GDPR.

If the GDPR applies to your organization you must inform your subscribers and gain their consent.  While consent is always required, if it is the only basis for your organization’s justification, additional steps must be taken.  The language used for consent must be clear and concise and consent must be given for each piece of data collected and the manner in which that data will be used.

As an organization you need to be open and transparent about your data collection activities. Typically, this means updating (or creating) your privacy policy, making sure the language is clear and concise.

Data protection is an important aspect of the GDPR.  We have all heard the horror stories of banks, hospitals, credit card companies etc. being targeted by unscrupulous hackers.  Personal information is stolen daily.  Identity theft is a multi-billion-dollar industry.  Start with end-to-end encryption and make sure to have robust agreements in place with all vendors. 

The GDPR is a complex set of laws that should be taken seriously by every company doing business or having subscribers in the EU.  GDPR.EU is an excellent resource for more detailed information and appropriate links. Compliance with GDPR will also bring you closer to compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act and new laws that are coming in the future.


Successful email marketing involves minimizing mistakes, and using best practices. Small organizations with limited staff may need help to deploy campaigns effectively.  Large organizations that may have been successful with other media may need help optimizing their investment in email marketing.  Net Atlantic has over 25 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes and experience levels take their success to the next level through email marketing.  Reach out to one of our experts today to find out how Net Atlantic can help you.  Tel. 978-219-1900 or email


The 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making with Your Email Marketing Andy how to fix them

Top 5 Reasons People Unsubscribe From Your Email Communications



Our Other Services Include

Inbox Experts

An expert service designed for the modern marketer looking to improve their inbox delivery, increase engagement, and increase the rate of return on their marketing spend.
Learn More >


Outsource your outbound email campaigns to the email experts at WeSendIt. Relax while we prepare and send your next email marketing campaign for you. Great for both small and large email marketing campaigns.
Learn More >


Put ListBuddy on your side to clean and validate your list. When your list is properly maintained, your email marketing campaigns will reach more inboxes, achieve better engagement, and deliver higher returns.
Learn More >