7 Common Email Copywriting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Sumit Pradhan

Ever felt like your carefully crafted emails are vanishing into the digital void? You’re not alone. In today’s crowded inboxes, standing out is harder than ever. But fear not! We’re about to dive into the world of email copywriting mistakes that might be holding you back, and more importantly, how to fix them.

The Power of Email Copywriting: Why It Matters

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk numbers. Email marketing isn’t just alive; it’s thriving. According to a recent study by Litmus, email marketing generates an average ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. That’s a 4,200% return! Compare that to social media’s average ROI of around 95%, and you’ll see why email remains the king of digital marketing.

7 Common Email Copywriting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

But here’s the kicker: great copy is what separates the emails that convert from those that get lost in the shuffle. Poor copywriting isn’t just a minor setback; it’s like throwing money down the drain. Each word you write has the power to engage, persuade, or… well, bore your readers to tears. Unlock powerful email tools at zero cost. Get your AWeber free account now!

Here are the 7 Common Email Copywriting Mistakes you should avoid them

Now, let’s dive into those pesky email copywriting mistakes that might be sabotaging your efforts.

Mistake #1: Snooze-Worthy Subject Lines

Your subject line is the gatekeeper of your email. It’s the difference between “Read me now!” and “Maybe later” (spoiler alert: later usually means never).

The Science of Subject Line Psychology

What makes people click? It’s a cocktail of curiosity, urgency, and value. Our brains are wired to respond to certain triggers. For instance, did you know that using numbers in your subject lines can increase open rates by 45%? Or that personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened?

But size matters too. The ideal subject line length is a hotly debated topic, but most experts agree that keeping it between 41-50 characters hits the sweet spot. Why? It’s long enough to convey meaning but short enough to avoid getting cut off on mobile devices.

Subject Line Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s break it down with a handy table:

DoDon'tUse power words (e.g., "Exclusive," "Secret," "Limited")Overuse ALL CAPS or excessive punctuation!!!Create a sense of urgency ("Ending soon," "Last chance")Use spam trigger words ("Free," "Buy now," "Cash")Ask intriguing questionsMake false promisesUse numbers and statisticsBe vague or generic

Pro tip: Always A/B test your subject lines. It’s like having a crystal ball for your email performance. Set up tests with variations in wording, length, or emojis. Then, let the data guide you. Remember, what works for one audience might flop for another.

Mistake #2: The “Me, Me, Me” Syndrome

Picture this: You’re at a party, and someone corners you to talk about themselves non-stop. Boring, right? That’s exactly how your readers feel when your emails are all about your company.

Shifting from Company-Centric to Customer-Centric

Here’s a hard truth: your readers don’t care about your company… yet. What they care about is what’s in it for them. This is where the WIIFM principle comes in – “What’s In It For Me?”

To illustrate, let’s look at two versions of the same email opening:

  1. “We’re excited to announce our new product line that we’ve been working on for months!”
  2. “Imagine cutting your workload in half while doubling your output. Our new product line makes it possible.”

Which one speaks to you? The second one, right? It’s all about the benefits to the reader.

Crafting Customer-Focused Copy

The secret sauce? Use “you” more than “we.” It’s a simple shift that makes a world of difference. Instead of talking about your features, highlight the benefits to your reader.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin

This quote perfectly encapsulates the customer-centric approach. When writing your emails, always ask yourself: “How does this help my reader?”

Mistake #3: One-Size-Fits-All Messaging

In the age of Netflix and Spotify, people expect personalization. Sending the same generic email to your entire list is like shouting into a crowd and hoping the right person hears you.

The Segmentation Sensation

Segmentation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a game-changer. Mailchimp found that segmented campaigns get 14.31% more opens and 100.95% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns. That’s huge!

Start with basic segmentation:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location)
  • Past purchases
  • Email engagement level

Then, graduate to more advanced strategies:

  • Behavioral data (website visits, product views)
  • Customer lifecycle stage
  • Personal preferences

Dynamic Content: The Future of Email Personalization

Dynamic content takes personalization to the next level. It allows you to change specific parts of your email based on who’s receiving it. For example:

  • A clothing retailer could show different products based on the reader’s gender or past purchases.
  • A travel company could display different destination images based on the reader’s location or previous trips.

Case Study: Adidas used dynamic content to personalize email images based on the reader’s gender and local weather. The result? A 12.9% increase in click-through rates and a 30.7% increase in conversion rates.

Mistake #4: The Great Wall of Text

We live in a world of skimmers and scanners. If your email looks like a novel, it’s likely to be ignored.

Formatting for Skimmability

Ever heard of the F-pattern? It’s how people tend to scan web content, including emails. They read across the top, down the left side, and across again in the middle, forming an “F” shape.

Use this knowledge to your advantage:

  • Put your most important information in the top left
  • Use subheadings to break up text
  • Employ bullet points for easy scanning
  • Utilize white space to give your content room to breathe

The Art of Concise Copywriting

Here’s a challenge: Take your draft and cut it in half. Then cut it in half again. What’s left is likely the essence of your message.

Some tips for tighter copy:

  • Eliminate redundant words (e.g., “totally free” – if it’s free, it’s totally free)
  • Use active voice (e.g., “The cat chased the mouse” instead of “The mouse was chased by the cat”)
  • Break up long sentences
  • Use visuals to convey complex information

Remember, every word should earn its place in your email.

Mistake #5: Weak or Missing Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

Your CTA is the bridge between your email and your desired outcome. A weak CTA is like a rickety bridge – no one wants to cross it.

CTA Psychology: What Makes People Click

Color, placement, and wording all play crucial roles in CTA effectiveness:

  • Color: Use contrasting colors to make your CTA stand out
  • Placement: Above the fold is usually best, but test different locations
  • Wording: Use action-oriented, specific language

Creating urgency and scarcity can also boost clicks. Words like “Limited time,” “Only X left,” or “Exclusive offer” tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO).

CTA Optimization Techniques

Always A/B test your CTAs. Try variations in:

  • Button color
  • Button size
  • CTA text
  • Placement within the email

Pro tip: While it’s tempting to include multiple CTAs, be cautious. Too many options can lead to decision paralysis. If you do use multiple CTAs, make sure there’s a clear hierarchy.

Mistake #6: Neglecting the Preview Text

Preview text is like your email’s wingman. It backs up your subject line and gives readers another reason to open your email.

Preview Text: Your Second Subject Line

Different email clients display preview text differently, but it generally appears right after the subject line. It’s your chance to elaborate on your subject line and entice readers to open.

Preview Text Best Practices

  • Length: Aim for 35-140 characters, depending on devices and email clients
  • Complement, don’t repeat: Your preview text should add to your subject line, not duplicate it
  • Front-load important info: Put the most crucial information first
  • Avoid placeholder text: “View this email in a browser” is a wasted opportunity

Example: Subject Line: “Last Chance: Summer Sale Ends Tonight!” Preview Text: “Grab up to 70% off beach essentials before they’re gone”

Mistake #7: Forgetting Mobile Optimization

With over 60% of email opens occurring on mobile devices, ignoring mobile optimization is like shooting yourself in the foot.

The Mobile Email Revolution

Consider these stats:

  • 70% of consumers delete emails that don’t render well on mobile immediately
  • 75% of smartphone owners use their devices to check email

Poorly optimized emails don’t just fail to convert – they can actively harm your brand image.

Mobile-Friendly Email Design and Copy

  • Use a single-column layout for easy scrolling
  • Increase font size (minimum 14px for body text)
  • Make CTAs thumb-friendly (at least 44×44 pixels)
  • Keep subject lines short (30-40 characters)
  • Use concise, punchy copy
  • Test your emails on various devices before sending

Putting It All Together: Your Email Copywriting Checklist

Before you hit send, run through this checklist:

  • Compelling subject line and preview text
  • Customer-centric messaging
  • Personalized content (where possible)
  • Scannable format with clear hierarchy
  • Concise, benefit-focused copy
  • Strong, clear CTA
  • Mobile-optimized design and copy
  • Proofread for errors and tone

Remember, great email copywriting is both an art and a science. It requires creativity, strategy, and constant testing. But by avoiding these common email copywriting mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to email marketing success.

Now, it’s your turn. Which of these mistakes have you been guilty of? What strategies will you implement in your next email campaign? Share your thoughts and experiences – let’s learn from each other!

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About the author

I am Sumit Pradhan, a full-time blogger and affiliate marketing expert. Before starting my blog, I co-founded and have been running a web hosting company for over 11 years. I've also launched multiple digital products, all of which are running successfully online.

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