The three mistakes experts easily avoid when creating an email campaign

Email Marketing
Apr 19
9 min read
It's no longer enough for email marketers to focus on elegant content and let the magic of the internet do the rest. Today, marketing professionals need to become fluent with email best practices.
Desperate man infront of a computer - Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Ninety-nine percent of people check their email inboxes every day. Some check it as often as 20 times a day

It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that the majority of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers think email is the most personal way to reach them but did you also know that the same is true of the majority of Millennials and Gen Zers?

Now that we know that people still like and use their email, it's probably worth mentioning a few other facts:

It's safe to say that your email campaigns have a lot of competition for your recipients' time, and that is if your emails even reach their intended recipients. Company servers are rightfully suspicious, as are email recipients. 

Unclear and spammy subject lines

When you send an email, it will sit with about 100 other emails, all vying for your recipient's attention, and that is if it reaches their inbox. Often those emails are stopped in their tracks by the company's server and marked as spam.

If the subject line is too vague, uninteresting, or unclear, or if the recipient doesn’t recognize who has sent it the only way the email will see the light of day is if the recipient expected it or they accidentally clicked on it. Or maybe you'll get lucky when someone feels bored.

Emails with spammy subject lines will likely be sent straight to email purgatory, which is otherwise known as the spam or junk mailbox, and that's if they make it that far. Many of those emails are blocked by the server, and your email address or even your domain could be banned from sending future emails. 

Avoid superlatives

Superlatives might have been fun in high school, but we've all been inundated by bad advertising throughout our entire lives. As a result, most of us have gained a healthy suspicion of words like "incredible!" "unbelievable!" "urgent!" or "once in a lifetime!" 

Ease up on the punctuation

Too much punctuation in subject lines comes across as both spammy and overly aggressive. Although there's a possibility a single exclamation point will slightly improve your open rate, there's an inverse relationship between the number of exclamation points in a subject line and the number of people who will read the emails. Question marks aren't much better. 

Periods are surprisingly fraught. When texting, young people don't like periods, and while older people do, email subject lines have never been a place for perfectly diagramable sentences. In other words, follow text etiquette and unless you need to use a period, don't.


I got a headache even writing that.

Be clear and concise (but not too clear and concise)

There's a very good reason you get an "are you sure you want to send this?" from most email clients before sending an email with no subject line; no one wants to receive an email with no subject line. 

A subject line gives you around 30 characters to convince your recipient that they want to open your email. An empty subject line will likely annoy them, make them think it was a mistake, or make them overlook it altogether. 

A one-word subject line might even be worse than nothing.

On the other hand, too much information is too much. Six to 10 words are the sweet spot with an open rate of around 21 percent. Fewer words dropped the open rate down to about 16 percent, and emails with subject lines with more than 10 words have an open rate of about 14 percent. 

Vague is good, but unclear is not. Some marketers recommend subject lines such as "We Saw You Checking Us Out" and "A Sneak Peek for VIPs Only." These are short but not too short, vague but combined with the sender's domain, it's clear what the emails are about.

No reply or unauthenticated email addresses

You probably see emails from addresses like "" Those are pretty much like they sound; you can't reply to them. If you try to respond, your email will bounce. "No reply" emails are surprisingly common. They come from everyone from companies sending invoices, social media notifications, and email marketers. 

You probably don't give "no-reply" emails much thought except for on the rare occasions that you might want to reply to the email. If, for example, you had a question about the bill or one for the email marketers' customer service, knowing that your email ended up in a black abyss could sour you on the company as a whole. It's like inviting someone over for dinner and locking the door before they arrive.

Also, "no-reply" emails are impersonal. Gaining customers is about personal relationships. If customers are made to feel like they aren't even important enough for a two-way conversation, it could make you lose customers. 

Perhaps more importantly, a "no-reply" return address could be seen as spam which can negatively affect your company's domain for future email campaigns.

We do suggest creating custom from addresses (CFAs) for bulk email campaigns. It can represent purpose or individual departments, such as "" or "" The best is having a group responsible to answer those emails like your customer success team. Of course, questions and concerns should always be sent to the appropriate person or department. 

Sender inappropriate/unclear

Unfortunately, using an unbranded domain or one for another business will backfire on you.

One of the first things you should do as a business owner is to purchase a domain and create email addresses for your email campaigns. Even if you don't feel a website is essential to your business, you want a domain name if you do any email communication. It would serve as an ID for email campaigns.

Even if you don't want a website, you should have one. If your email campaign is successful and recipients want to learn more about your company, they will want to see your website. In addition, your "from" email address needs to match your domain. 

Email address and domain not authenticated

Email and domain authentication are a way of letting your recipients' servers know that the emails are coming from a genuine company or person. Without authentication, your recipients' servers might see your domain as a spammer or even a spoofer (an email that pretends to come from someone else). Talk to your email service provider, hosting company, or IT department about authenticating your domain.

Poor contact list hygiene

One of the major things that could hurt your reputation is mailing to non-existent email addresses, or worse, to email addresses that asked you to stop sending them emails. 

Email contact lists are like plants. Trimming dead emails helps nurture and grow your contact lists, much like pruning dead leaves and branches helps plants grow and bloom.

Businesses should have five different types of contacts:

  • Subscribers (people who are interested in your products or services, or at least in what you have to say)
  • Sales leads (potential future customers)
  • Existing customers
  • Past customers
  • People who refer you business

None of those types of contracts are fixed. Subscribers can become customers, customers can become people who refer new customers to your business, and today's existing customers are tomorrow's past customers. Without proper contact list hygiene, you could have duplicate emails across contact types. 

Be aware that all of those types of contacts have different permissions linked to the use of their email addresses. It’s crucial that you follow the regulations and important to stick to good practices.

Trim inactive subscribers

There are several reasons subscribers may be inactive. They might be busy, they might have lost interest, your emails might not be intriguing enough, they haven't gotten around to unsubscribing, or the email address no longer exists. 

Because inactivity doesn't necessarily mean disinterest, send an email to win back their business and politely ask if they'd like to be removed from your list before removing them. 

Depending on where the person is in the sales cycle, it's beneficial to have at least a few different win-back emails. For example, a "you forgot something in your cart" email, preferably with some sort of incentive, might get someone to take that extra step. 

For a past customer, you might send a preferred customer email. For a person who hasn't referred any business to you for a while, a "can we do anything for you?" email might remind them of the fantastic products or services you offer. 

You could also put inactive subscribers into another list. For example, you could only send them emails for specific products and services you think would appeal to them. 

Distinguish between soft and hard bounces

If the recipient's email address is no longer valid or the sender's email address or domain is blocked, it's considered a hard bounce. Therefore, you should remove those email addresses. 

If, instead, there was a delivery error or the email received an "out of office" response, that's considered a soft bounce. Then, the server will try to send the email again. 

Put subscribers where they belong

One metric you should track is who responds to which emails. If, for example, someone subscribed to your list after receiving an email for women's sweaters, don't assume they'll have the same sort of interest in children's shoes. 

You should also pay attention to demographics. For example, unless you're targeting expats, you wouldn't send emails written in English to people living in Japan and don't send information on retirement communities to 30-somethings looking to buy real estate. 

Cleanup typos

A lot of bounced emails come from plain old typos. While it can be tough to catch typos, sometimes the mistake is easily detected. First, make sure there are no transposed letters in the domain (for example, could be typed out as or obviously misspelled names. You may have to manually clean your contact list from typos because humans did most typos. 

Delete duplicate addresses

No one wants to receive the same emails multiple times, but duplicates happen. If your database lets employees and customers enter data in multiple formats, your system won't easily catch duplicates. Therefore, you should create strict formatting rules for your contact database to avoid duplicates in the future.

Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel, but it takes planning and vigilance. It costs almost nothing to send an email, and for each dollar you spend, a well-managed and executed campaign will yield you about $42.00. 

If all of this seems time-consuming and a little overwhelming, Contact us to see how Cakemail will act as a collaborative marketing partner for your email campaigns. We'll help you create gorgeous emails with compelling subject lines and fresh, dynamic content. 

You'll have up-to-the-minute access to reporting so you can see how the campaign is doing. We'll also help you manage the annoying contact list hygiene and protect your sender reputation. 

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