It’s no secret that email marketing is a highly effective tool for return on investment; in fact, according to an Econsultancy report, email has the best ROI available compared to other marketing tactics. However, this doesn’t stop certain email marketers from resorting to downright cringeworthy tactics to try and get the eyeballs they seek.

Sometimes even the best marketers can slip into bad email marketing habits, so we’ve put together a list of the top six behaviours to avoid. If you can evade these, you’re well on your way to being a responsible marketer with an exceptional email marketing strategy.

Don’t email people who didn’t ask for it

This may be a basic point, but it bares repeating: always make sure your recipients have actually permitted you to send an email to them. It may seem like a quick win to send your monthly newsletter to a list of emails harvested from LinkedIn, but it’s a very bad marketing habit and it can get your company into trouble with the law.

Employing a double opt-in strategy where recipients must respond to an email to confirm they want to sign up is the best way to ensure long-term email list’s health. While in the short term you might have slightly smaller lists, the people you’re sending to are much more likely to be engaged and much less likely to put you in the spam folder. Like so many things in email marketing, maintaining lists is about quality over quantity, with research showing that double opt-in strategies can increase click-through rates (CTR) by up to 55%.

Less is more

You don’t have to be an email marketing expert to realise that people receive far too much email on a daily basis. There’s little point in flooding your customers’ inboxes with email blasts, and there’s research to suggest that this behaviour causes people to unsubscribe. If at all possible, you should ask your new subscribers about their preferred email frequency within the signup form, and stick to that promise.

If you need to change the email frequency for some reason, it’s best to inform your subscriber and offer them the chance to revisit their preferences. Common sense stuff, right? There’s no one-size-fits-all to email frequency; one email per day might be right for some businesses, while others might see their best engagement numbers with automated messages that are personalised to their readers’ interests.

Don’t be scattergun

It’s not 1991 anymore. Gone are the days when sending out one email message to your entire database was a reasonable or effective strategy. The technology enabling a more scientific approach is widely available, so why not take advantage of it?

Segmenting your subscriber list into multiple sections is key to maximising email marketing engagement. The Direct Marketing Association reports that segmentation can boost email ROI by up to 760%. There are several information points to ask your subscribers which you can later use to segment your lists. For example, you could ask for your their age, location, job or interests. How you segment – and what questions are appropriate to ask your subscribers – varies from business to business, but do not underestimate this powerful tool.

Don’t make a beeline for the spam folder

Being reported as a spam sender is a serious matter – it can make it substantially more difficult for you to send emails to multiple internet service providers (ISPs).

Subject lines are one of the most important variables in determining whether your message will end up in the spam folder: any emails offering false advertising claims or ‘special offers’ will likely be relegated. Avoid the following phrases like the plague: ‘money back guarantee’; ‘requires initial investment’; ‘earn £’.

Always use a call to action

Every email needs one; without a call to action (CTA), subscribers will be left feeling slightly confused over what exactly the purpose of the email they just received was. Whether it’s a link to your website or a big flashy button, the CTA is the focal point of any email marketing communication.

There are many ways to make your CTAs more eye-catching and actionable for your recipients. Use urgent language in the copy or create a glossy button for the user to click on. Make your CTA stand out with different colours and ensure that the landing page on the other side of your CTA will work properly. If you get these basics right, the rest will become much easier.

Don’t prevent your users from unsubscribing

It’s a legal requirement for your emails to include an unsubscribe or opt-out button. Email marketing software companies like Campaign Monitor can help prevent your company from getting into hot water, ensuring that every email sent has a valid unsubscribe link, while also managing the removal of unsubscribes. Don’t try to sneak around legislation by making the unsubscribe link tiny; doing this won’t exactly encourage respect for you among your potential customers.

If you’re committing any of these email marketing faux pas, it’s time to step up your game. And even if you’re not, it’s important to keep these rules in the back of your mind; they represent the bedrock of email marketing good practice, regardless of your business vertical, and starting with these principles will make it easier for your email marketing campaigns to exceed expectations.