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5 Mistakes You're Making With Your Email List

These five email misconceptions hurt your chances for success. Here's why and how to avoid them.

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Things aren’t always as they appear, and this especially applies to email marketing. The email landscape changes frequently, yet some misconceptions persist. As some of the attitudes and practices of yesteryear no longer apply, take a look at five misconceptions you may have about email marketing.

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Misconception: It’s just an email address

Back when email was new, it was an exciting moment when you heard “You’ve got mail.” These days, email is so common that all ages, occupations and demographics are using it. In fact, by the year 2024, researchers estimate that 4.4 billion people will be using email. However, the fact that everyone has an email address doesn’t make it less meaningful or valuable. In fact, the reverse is true.

To give it a monetary value, an email address is worth $113.48. But look at it from the perspective of potential and trust. People look in their inbox quite a bit — typically 143 minutes daily. Some people have the same email address for many years, meaning you could be communicating with them for a long time. There’s potential to build rapport and market to them.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Having an Email Marketing List Is Better Than Any Social Media



It’s a great privilege when someone entrusts you with their email address. They invite you to form a dialogue. So, don’t abuse this privilege and never forget that there’s a live person on the other end. It’s not just an email address.

Misconception: You can email your list whenever you want to

Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean they want you to drop in on them five times a week. Of course, every business is different, but it can be a clear boundary violation when your newsletters feel like an intrusion or a nagging pest.



Alternatively, you don’t want to pull a disappearing act. Some brands send emails consistently and then disappear for one reason or another. A brand that sells seasonal products should maybe slow down their volume, but to disappear completely is bad for your sender reputation. 

All email senders have a reputation, which is based on the score Internet service providers (ISPs) use to determine whether a sender is legitimate or a spammer. If you send emails, then disappear only to reappear some months later, a lot of your subscribers will have changed their address or may forget about you. Those who forget about you may mark you as spam which is detrimental to your reputation.

Use good judgment to send emails at appropriate intervals and to not suddenly disappear. It makes you seem flaky and nobody wants to do business with someone who is inconsistent.

Misconception: The more emails on your list, the better

Sometimes people boast about the size of their list. It’s impressive to hear that someone has 50,000 or 100,000 addresses on their list. But quantity does not always indicate quality. Are your subscribers engaging with your content? Are there any fake or low-value email addresses on your list?

Some people deactivate or change their email addresses. Their work or education situation changes, and with that, their address. There are also people who sign up for lists using disposable addresses. Then, role-based addresses like info@ or admin@ are rather risky, too. Because a number of individuals check them, the chances of them clicking and reading are slim. You also never know when one of the people who check that inbox will mark you as spam.

Contrary to conventional knowledge, a huge list is not always a successful one. There are smaller lists with greater engagement and ROI. A large number of subscribers can definitely be a plus, but only if those subscribers are real and clicking on your content. There are big lists that are in serious jeopardy.

Misconception: Don't worry about your list, just keep adding subscribers to it

It can be easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking that you don’t have to maintain your list. Just keep adding subscribers to it. Throw it all up against the wall and what sticks, sticks. This is untrue. 

For your list to perform, you have to scrub it regularly and remove invalid and low-quality contacts. Keeping them on there is harmful as it drives down your sender reputation and causes your emails to land in spam. Think about it: what are the chances that anyone will see you there? You must land in the inbox, or your efforts and resources have all been in vain.

Furthermore, you want all of the addresses on your list to be authentic and permission-based. Everyone there should want to be there because they have elected to receive your newsletters. Buying a list is not effective and puts you at risk of being marked as spam.

Misconception: You can send endless promotional emails 

There’s another misconception that, if you’ve built an email list, you can bombard your audience with endless promos. People won’t mind, it’s why they subscribed, right?

Wrong. No one wants to have their inbox flooded by promotional emails. People will react to a good offer, but make it special. If all you’re doing is trying to sell, sell, sell, your readers will pick up on that. It will start to come across as obnoxious.

So, focus on educational and entertaining content. If you find it hard to strike a balance, use the Pareto principle: 20 percent promos, 80 percent informative and educational content. Even better, find an educational angle for your promos. If you’re selling yoga mats, for example, and you’re running a sale, make your email about “3 easy ways to stick to your yoga routine,” then end with a call-to-action button that leads people to your offer.

By creating value and being generous with your knowledge, you’ll strengthen your brand and drive up engagement. People will open your emails because they’ll come to know you always send something worth reading.

Misconception: Make your own rules

There are certain rules you should never break, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be the first to try something new. Give yourself time to learn about the people on your list. What are their expectations? What do they respond to? 

The unusual idea you have may be brilliant, and that’s why you can always run your own tests. Find out what your audience needs, wants and reacts to. Keeping your subscribers in mind is the most important concept.