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The only constant in email marketing is change. As communication processes and devices evolve, so do the expectations of your audience. Often, yesterday’s best practices become tomorrow’s biggest faux pas. Staying abreast of current trends, however, can help you improve engagement and steer clear of spam folders. Here are the top five mistakes you should avoid in your email marketing strategy:

Mistake 1: Not using responsive design

As of December of 2013, 51 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device. Given the paradigm shift toward mobile in nearly every other aspect of the digital sphere, we can only assume this number has grown and will continue to grow. In other words, if you’re not designing your email for a mobile audience, you could be silencing conversations with more than half your market. In order to achieve successful responsive design, consider the following:

  • Keep it simple. By using simple, one-column design that renders correctly on most any screen, and concise copy, you’re more likely to engage your contacts.
  • Include large buttons. Make sure buttons are wide enough to tap.
  • Consider your images. Keep in mind not all email apps display images, so be sure to include logical alt-text.

Mistake 2: Not segmenting your contact lists

If you’re an 18-year-old college freshman, which email would you prefer receiving from a financial institution: “Tips for Choosing the Best Student Loan” or “Mortgage Rates at All Time Low”? The first would likely resound with you the most, while the second would probably end up in your trash folder.

Good marketing means sending the right message to the right person at the right time, and segmentation helps you achieve all three of these goals. You can segment lists by geographical region, age, gender, stage of the buying process, or any other factor that makes sense to your key objective. Then, create messaging specifically targeted to each group.

Mistake 3: Using a boring subject line

If there’s one thing we know in the world of sales and marketing, it’s that first impressions are everything. Considering the average email subscriber receives more than 400 emails a month, standing about among the noise is critical to your email marketing success. Here are a few tips to achieving greater open rates through subject lines:

  • Keep subject lines short and descriptive.
  • Be creative.
  • Avoid using the word “free” as this can trigger spam filters.
  • Consider sub-headers. Remember some email applications display not only the subject line, but also the first several characters of the email itself.

Mistake 4: Not including a clear call-to-action

Our attention spans are already short—and they’re even shorter on mobile. So, don’t make your reader guess. A successful CTA will move your subscriber seamlessly into the next phase of the process. When creating CTAs, keep the following in mind:

  • Make buttons obvious by using bold colors.
  • Use actionable copy, such as “Download eBook” or “Schedule Demo.”
  • Keep CTAs above the fold. Don’t make your reader scroll to find what they need.

Mistake 5: Ignoring your analytics

One of the biggest crimes in email marketing is failing to analyze your results. The only way you can truly improve your strategy is by carefully monitoring email data. Compare open rates, click-through-rates and unsubscribe rates to see what’s working and what’s not. Set up A/B testing to determine which types of messaging your audience prefers, and apply the knowledge you gain to future campaigns.

Of course, the first step to solving any problem is admitting there is a problem. If you’re committing any of the above mistakes in your email marketing, commit to making a change. By improving your email strategy, you can build trust and further grow your relationships.

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