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  • Su Guillory

The Top Email Design Mistakes People Make

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

The entire process of setting up an email marketing campaign can be a delicate one that’s also often fraught with all sorts of potential mistakes. Some of these mistakes can be little, hard to notice things that lead to failure or much lower success metrics such as conversions, click-throughs and eyeballs, and other email design mistakes could nearly doom your entire campaign.


The worst thing is that for many of the email marketing pitfalls that are out there, marketers who are committing them often aren’t even aware of what’s happening that’s making their email campaign go sour.


This is where the following “hit list” of the 5 biggest email marketing killers that ruin many marketing campaigns comes in handy. We’ve put together a list of the very worst and most insidious offenders that often screw up an otherwise great email campaign and just by going through them and at least making sure the following mistakes aren’t present in your campaign, you can go much further towards having some serious success with your subscribers.

Let’s get down to the 5 email design mistakes and implementation Killers (inspired by email management company Reachmail).


1. Mr. Loud Colors

Mr. Loud Colors is the clown that shows up at the most crucial part of your email marketing campaign when you most need to get the positive attention of your audience with your message and ruins it by grabbing a different kind of attention. He’s so brightly, weirdly colored that your audience can’t pay attention to what you’re really trying to say.

What we’re referring to is the mistake of using colors and design layouts in your campaign that are so overwhelming, they completely distract from your actual sales message. Avoid this mistake and focus your emails on their message itself by using more neutral, professional-looking tones that don’t distract from your content.


Some excellent colors are black, white, grey, blue, light tones and balanced mixes of muter color. For some excellent examples of these, check out this color palette guide.


2. Mr. Distortions

Mr. Distortions, the tricky character who seems like a great promoter at first glance but later completely screws things up by losing his cookies where it counts.


What we’re talking about with Distortions is the tendency of some email marketers to create an email campaign that looks great and works well on their own servers and screens and then send it out to subscribers whose different email systems, browsers, and screen sizes cause the original email’s design to load improperly.


This can result in some serious conversion losses but you can avoid the problem by simply making sure that you test your email campaign designs beforehand across dummy accounts with several different email servers most used by your readers and also test email presentations on different screen types (such as mobile device screens) and different browsers even.


3. Mr. Red X

Mr. Red X creates problems for your marketing efforts by showing up at inopportune moments that you’re not even aware of and ruining a potential sale or click-through.


How does Red X do this? By not appearing on your emails when you see them in your own email system and showing up only in the emails that go to people who have image display disabled in their email systems.


You might be tempted to use a lot of visually appealing images in your bulk promotion emails but because of Mr. Red X, you should simply avoid them wherever possible. Some people disable images in their email platforms and since you can’t know how in advance many of your subscribers are doing this, it’s better to just focus on a visually clean and text-focused campaign.


If you need to include images, then also give them excellent, descriptive Alt tags that at least let your readers know what it is you were trying to convey to them in the spot where the literal Red X is appearing in place of an image.


4. Mr. Pixels

Mr. Pixels is somewhat similar to Mr. Red X in that he appears whenever your email campaign depends too much on images instead of written content.


In the case of Pixels, what causes the problem is using in-message images that are either too small or too large and which then scale badly when expanded or shrunken in other browsers. Both scaling directions create distorted, pixelated visuals and can ruin the professional appearance of your email campaign.


Again, simply avoid using too many images in your emails, save them for your landing pages or, if you absolutely need images, then use those whose resolution is happily in the middle and won’t cause distortions if the pictures expand or shrink under different display sizes.


5. Mr. Wordiness

You don’t at all want to waste your readers’ time or bore them with stuff that’s superfluous and this is what Mr. Wordiness, unfortunately, does all the time.


Instead of focusing on quickly getting to the core value proposition that will make your subscribers understand how your offer benefits them directly, you waste their time with too much preamble. Don’t do this. Mr. Wordiness can be avoided easily by simply getting to the point with valuable information as quickly as you can.


There you go. When you’re setting up your email marketing campaign, you’re always going to have something go wrong or need improvement here and there, but at least by going through this checklist and avoiding these big five problems, you’ll save yourself from an enormous amount of wasted time and lost sales.


Matthew Zajechowski is an outreach manager for Digital Third Coast.  Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.

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