Email Marketing Automation: What NOT to Do

Posted on February 10, 2019

Email marketing automation is an incredibly powerful tool a wide range of e-commerce stores can use to drive success. Like most anything else, though, the strategy of email marketing automation is certainly not immune to potential pitfalls. 

If you’re not following the guidelines for best practices in email marketing automation, you’re leaving your e-commerce store susceptible to negative outcomes. It certainly helps to at least understand some of the most common mistakes made. Here are five things to know in order to stay clear of frequent mistakes in email marketing automation.

Value the Captured Email 

The email inbox is valuable real estate for e-commerce brands. It should be treated as such in the email marketing automation process. 

Most importantly, this means not neglecting to engage your email list. If a shopper gave you their email, they want to hear from you. Make sure that happens in a timely manner. The worst thing you can do is sit on thousands of emails when you could be building a strong relationship with consumers and driving revenue.

This means sending a welcome email almost immediately after a consumer has subscribed to your list. That’s not just a good suggestion, it’s an expectation. That first email should also be part of a series that further builds a connection in those crucial early stages. 

Let the Data Do the Work

Your customer data should largely drive your email marketing automation process following that welcome series. If you dive into it and use that information as your guiding force, you’ll see results. You’ll also ensure subscribers aren’t being neglected, which is essential.

Your goal as an e-commerce company is to know as much about your customers as you possibly can. That’s been the core ingredient for the success of so many giants throughout the rise of e-commerce. To get this done, it’s essential to start thinking like a data company, and that means letting the data dictate your email marketing automation process. 

Segments, Not Batch-and-Blast

Every customer isn’t the same, so they shouldn’t be treated as such. Your email list should absolutely be divided into segments to help you deliver the right message at the right time. Batch-and-blast emails sent to your entire list are very much a thing of the past. 

This is all about personalization around everything you know about the customer. That cannot be emphasized enough. This can and should be done with any consumer, from your most loyal to those who have purchased only once.

Simply put: If you’re not using segments to stay relevant and timely with email marketing automation, you’re missing the point.

Stay On-Brand

Examples of email marketing automation done well are always useful for inspiration and building your plan. However, every e-commerce store must remain committed to what its brand is all about. If clever, catchy subject lines built around modern pop culture work for a retailer selling primarily to Generation Z consumers, that doesn’t mean that’ll work for retailers selling to their Generation X parents. In fact, it’s more likely to have the opposite outcome.

So, remember, stay true to what you are and your customers. Trying to make your brand into something it’s not isn’t a recipe for success in email marketing automation.

Link to the Product, Not the Cart

Abandoned cart emails are among the most important within the email marketing automation process. Sending them isn’t as simple as it may seem, though. An e-commerce store can perfect all the basics of the abandoned cart email process, but it can all be thrown out the window if you forget the importance of the link.

The link you provide in an abandoned cart email should lead to the product itself. A very common, and likely costly, mistake is providing a link that leads to the “/cart” for the customer. This may not be an issue if they used the same device, such as a laptop, to initiate the add-to-cart and follow the link in the email.

However, it’s increasingly common for consumers to use multiple devices throughout the process of completing a purchase. If they are using their smartphone to follow the email link after using their laptop for the initial add-to-cart, your store may miss out if you went with a “/cart” link. But providing a link to the product eliminates any possible confusion or interruption in the process.


Stay engaged and show why shopping with your e-commerce store is a uniquely great experience.

Remember to work through the data and be open to change. It’s not the end of the world if your first crack at email marketing automation isn’t a smashing success. It will be, just give it time and have the flexibility to adapt.