Common mistakes people make when creating emails – and how to avoid them

  • Jack Steele

    Jack Steele

    Software Engineering Team Lead, Knak

Published Nov 24, 2021

Common mistakes people make when creating emails – and how to avoid them


Learn to avoid common email creation errors with Knak's guide, focusing on typo prevention, brand consistency, and effective CTAs.

Ever sent an email that you wish you could take back? Us too.

Whether you’ve misspelled someone’s name or attached the wrong file, there’s always that sinking feeling once you realize you’ve made a mistake. For email marketers, that feeling is multiplied by the number of people who receive the mistake, be it a badly formatted design, incorrect copy, dead link, or something else altogether. And for some teams, that number can be in the thousands, if not millions.

Being proactive and staying ahead of any potential errors is key. To help you with just that, we’re taking a look at the common mistakes marketers make in emails, and sharing tips on how to avoid them.

But first, what makes a good email?

Here’s a quick reminder on the elements that marketers should aim for as they create emails. A good email includes:

  • An engaging subject line and preview text. If your email doesn’t get opened, the rest doesn’t really matter.
  • A familiar “From Name” that readers will recognize as part of your brand.
  • Subtle use of personalization.
  • Clear and concise messaging paired with a single, strong call to action (CTA).
  • Accessible content that’s optimized for screen readers and other accessibility platforms.
  • Consistent branding that aligns with your website and other visual assets.

Good emails are also continually tried and tested with recipients, and refined as needed. Missing one of these points might not appear as a visible mistake to your readers, but it could negatively impact the overall effectiveness of your campaigns. Consider this list your baseline for creating consistently successful emails.

The common mistakes marketers make in emails

As we go through this list, we apologize in advance if anyone feels “seen” by any of the items below. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there – and we take each instance as an opportunity to do better the next time.

Typos and grammatical errors

This may sound like a small thing, but it’s not. Copy that has spelling or grammar errors looks sloppy and can get in the way of your audience taking you seriously.

Misuse of personalization

While tailored email features have been around for some time now, we still see the occasional “Dear [First Name]” pop up in our inboxes. Again, this looks clumsy and crosses out any bonus points you might have gotten for creating a personalized email experience.

Code mistakes

Mistakes in your email’s code can cause rendering and compatibility issues in certain email clients, impacting a large section of your audience. You want your text and visuals to populate correctly regardless of the app, device, or web browsers your readers are using. 

Too much text…

Emails that are too long and unfocused risk losing the reader’s attention before they get to the CTA.Your readers shouldn’t be overwhelmed by what seems like a wall of text that isn’t adding that much value to their day.

…and too many images

Some brands choose to stylize their text and have it embedded into the email as an image, instead of as part of the HTML code. This can significantly add to your email’s load time, and also poses a challenge for people with visual impairments as screen readers can’t properly consume and translate that content.

Brand inconsistencies

Emails that don’t have the right font or brand colours provide a disjointed experience for your readers. Consistency is key here. The same goes for the type of content you send. If a financial services provider is suddenly emailing you about their CEO’s political views, that may raise more questions than engagement.

What do these mistakes all have in common? They pose a big risk to your brand’s reputation. Prospects and customers that have issues accessing your content or receive a poorly formatted email are far more likely to hit the unsubscribe button and disengage from your brand. And you don’t want that.

4 ways you can keep your emails error free

To stay ahead of these common pitfalls, marketers should consider the following email best practices.

1. Re-use tried and tested modules

If your marketing ops team has already spent the time and effort to test and create custom templates and modules for your brand, use them. This will save you from potentially introducing errors as you build an email from scratch. 

2. Set up brand guardrails in your email creation process

If you have a lot of people writing emails at your organization – a big challenge we’ve seen at a lot of enterprises – you need a set of rules that encourage consistency. This can include having a limited list of brand colours that can be used in emails, typography guidelines, restrictions on the length of the text or the copy in CTA button, and a cap on the amount of images added to the body.

3. Establish a seamless approval process

As you build your email marketing team, make sure you have a group of people dedicated to checking emails before they go out. That said, don’t let this team be a barrier to getting timely information into people’s inboxes. Make sure that the roles and responsibilities are clear, and that you have coverage when team members are on vacation or on leave.

4. Automate email optimization

Invest in technology that can do some of the quality checks for you. A platform that audits your emails to make sure you have a link in your CTA button, alt text in your images, and the other core features you can’t do without can be really helpful here. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

While we all make mistakes, when you send out an email with an error in it, there’s no back button. It’s not like a website or social media post where you can go in and make an edit after it goes live. You have to either own up to what you’ve done or follow up with a correction – and that’s not always a good look. It’s important to set yourself up for success and do everything you can to avoid the mistake in the first place. 

That all said, if you do make a mistake – and your brand allows for it – don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself for it. It can make you more relatable to your readers as you invite them in to have a laugh with you.

Remember, email doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools and guardrails, you can set yourself and your team up for success as you engage with prospects and customers. You’ve got this.

Book a demo to see how Knak makes email easy by addressing the above and a whole lot more.

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  • Jack Steele


    Jack Steele

    Software Engineering Team Lead, Knak

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