Email Marketing Mistakes

My Email Marketing Mistakes

Email Marketing – Starting Over Is A Mistake

image - email mistakesI’ve been playing on the net for a long time and I’ve had my hand in email marketing since 2002 when I was running my first forum. The forum script had its own email system and I setup a regular newsletter for members. From there I was able, for the first time, to profit from a list.

Fast forward another year and I started two blogs on Blogger right after Google bought them out. Now I needed another resource for email marketing since Blogger did not provide such a service.

Mistake #1:

I started collecting emails manually to build my list and began mass mailing from my personal email account. I thought it would be alright because I used the Blind Carbon Copy “BCC” feature to protect my “subscriber’s” information. It’s hard to believe I was that naive. This was a HUGE mistake and resulted not only in me losing my email account, but in getting banned and blacklisted from virtually every major email service there was. This nightmare followed me for a very long time.

Fast forward another year when I finally moved to my first domain. This time it was a static HTML website, and yes, I had to have a list. That’s where the money is, right?

Mistake #2:

Well, I learned from my past mistake and knew I needed a third party email management service. Like many online marketers, bloggers and webmasters, I searched for the best FREE email marketing service I could find. I spent the next two years building several qualified, double opt-in mailing lists only to be notified that the service would no longer be available very soon. The damn site was shutting down! At least they gave me notice, some email marketers weren’t so lucky.

The rug was pulled out from under me in late 2006 and I had to scramble to retain as many subscribers as possible. I spent many hours researching email management services and auto responders. I finally decided on AWeber. All in all, I lost over 85% of my list because email lists cannot be transferred without every subscriber opting in again. This means, basically, starting all over.

I have been with AWeber ever since and haven’t looked back. I’ve had dozens of lists and many thousands of subscribers and still use AWeber today. In fact, we use AWeber to deliver Weekly Blogging Tips to our VIP Members.

The Takeaway?

The lesson is simple; get it right the first time. Don’t take short cuts or cheat yourself by going with the cheapest solution around. In a long run, it will end up costing you big.

My advice? Build a list and use AWeber($) to do it!

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. Paul Salmon says

    A few things can be taken from this post. First – while you made some mistakes, you learned from them and also alerted us on what not to do, which is great.

    Second – sometimes you get what you pay for, such as a free service. While free is always the best price, their is not service guarantee when it comes to free, so if somethings needs to be done right – it is best to pay for the service.

  2. Your advice is spot on and I can relate with your experiences. Not specifically with email marketing, but a number of things I’ve done throughout my web career, such as starting with one content management platform only to realize another was what I needed.

    Thanks for sharing your insight. This is the type of information that helps people get it right the first time. Without it, we’d all be left to learn things the hard way.

  3. Great advice! On a small scale, I’ve been doing exactly what you’ve described. I’ve been thinking for some time about AWeber, but now you’ve convinced me that I need to look into it more seriously. Thanks for the insight!

  4. sai krishna says

    you have a lot of experience brian .. keep rocking 🙂 currently i’m planning to start my first newsletter in mailchip free plan . any problem with mail chimp free plan ?

  5. Ganesh J. Acharya says

    People display their emails on the contact us page. And then expect only Service buyers to reach. Ethically I guess it is fine even for the service provides to reach their target audience over email. But the problem arises only when its over done.

  6. My biggest mistake is not getting started with my own list. I used Aweber in the past and it’s a great service. Right now I am using Mail Chimp because it’s easier on my pocket book. Thanks for these tips and some of it I didn’t know could happen.

  7. I couldn’t have said it better myself Paul, we get what we pay for (if we research) and learn from our mistakes. I’m hoping others can learn from mine. Thank you 🙂

  8. That’s Melanie, another one was building blogs on third party domains. It’s always a step backward starting over, even when moving to our own domains. It’s easier to just start out right the first time. Thanks

  9. Absolutely Doug, check it out and if you have any questions feel free to ask.

  10. Hi Sai, I’ve never tried Mail Chimp but my buddy Sire seems to be happy with it.

  11. Thanks Ganesh, I guess everyone is using email marketing.

  12. I completely understand Sonia. Of course, eventually we want these services to pay for themselves and turn a profit.

  13. Learning from mistakes is the step towards success. Even I have made mistakes in taking decisions regarding business. AWeber seems to be useful for third party email management service. For internet marketing, this is very important. Will try AWeber surely. Thanks for the post!

  14. Email marketing is the need of the time but done in the right approach is effective. Creating mailing list manually is really a hectic job! But it is okay atleast you understood your mistake and did not just sit and curse yourself for doing such mistakes. Even I was unsuccessful many times in Email marketing but started using AWeber. I agree with you it is very useful for Email marketing.

  15. thanks for tips i never try now i will try email marketing.

  16. Hey Brian:

    Wow! Those were some tough lessons to learn. It is encouraging to new Internet marketers that bad things might happen but just learn from the experience and move on.

    I also lost a lot of subscribers when I moved to aWeber. However, most of those subscribers were probably inactive anyway. This is the only drawback I see with aWeber. I understand where they are coming from but I still hate this rule.

    Take care,

    – Rick

  17. Lennart Heleander says

    Hi Brian,
    Good article for one of my proverb fits well here;
    The normal man learns from his mistakes.
    The smart man learns from others’ mistakes, and saves a lot of time and money

  18. Hi Brian, I agree make it correct first time. I am using Mailchimp and only reason is it has a initial free plan where Aweber asks for a paid membership from the start. Mailchimp services is also very good and have all option like auto-responders, mail templates etc.

  19. Thanks Sam, we’re doing great now, it just took a bit of work starting over a couple of times.

  20. Another satisfied AWeber user, thanks Thomas.

  21. You should Nidhi, you have a lot to offer on your blog and I’m sure a lot of tech users would love to get more by email.

  22. Thanks Rick, it can be frustrating but I’m sure that has a lot to do with the deliverability of their emails. They force everyone to run clean lists and everyone benefits in the long run. I do agree that most of those subscribers were probably inactive anyway. That’s another nice feature with AWeber, we can actually boot the inactive subscribers right off the list.

  23. Thanks Lennart, I’m hoping to help some of our readers and subscribers a little smarter.

  24. This is why, despite a lot of bloggers suggesting that we should all start a newsletter, I didn’t start one until I was ready to use Aweber. I didn’t just sign up for the first tool I heard about – I looked around at all the advice I could find, before deciding that I only wanted to set up the newsletter once. I could’ve started using a free tool six months ago, but decided not to as I wasn’t ready. Seems like I made the right choice!

  25. Thanks Sanjeev, I’ve never used Mailchimp but people seem to like it. It sounds like Mailchimp is the best choice when it comes to a free option, or at least the most popular. That kind of falls in the category of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”; That is, as long as they don’t close up shop on everyone like the service I was using or start charging people to keep it by phasing out the free service like others in the past.

  26. I think that was pretty smart Ben, a lot of bloggers tend to chase their tails when it comes to tools. Free is nice but it’s important to research and weigh everything before rushing in either direction.

    I didn’t bring it up before but we lose a little credibility by changing all of the time. Subscribers see the changes, which is obviously the result of bad decisions, so why would they bother following any other recommendation? We can apply that in many online factors.

    BTW, I just wanted to thank you for the great followup with comment replies. You did an awesome job and should feel free to log in and post again anytime. If you need anything or want to work on something together don’t hesitate to give me a shout.

  27. These are some great insights Brian, thanks!

  28. Thanks Brian 🙂 I’ll be thinking of another guest post in the future, I’m sure!

  29. Jeevanjacobjohn says

    Hey Brian,

    I appreciate you for accepting the those mistakes and moving on with it 😀 Lots of bloggers today make a lot of mistakes (some will accept it, move on and try again while most others give up).

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us Brian,

    Jeevan Jacob John

  30. Thanks Rob

  31. Thanks Jeevan, we’ve both seen many bloggers give up and disappear over the years. It’s pretty sad really.

  32. yes every one do this mistake number 1.
    when they started email marketing.

  33. Jeevanjacobjohn says

    Yeah, it is. Lot of them had a great ability to come up with Awesome ideas. Only if they had been persistent and hard working.

    I guess it is both good and bad for the blogosphere.
    The good: Little less competition
    The bad: Lost some really good bloggers.

  34. Abhi Balani says

    Ohh my friend. Thanks a lot. You know, your #1 mistake, I was going to do that just now. Pheww…. Thanks a lot. I have few email subscribers. haven’t sent any email to them (mass mail) but was thinking to do so. Marking your words.

  35. It’s interesting that your personal email was banned for spamming, even though those folks had opted in. For my business newsletter I’ve used my business account for 10 years without an issue; I’ve yet to sign up for an autoresponder, as you know.

    Still, your main takeaway is prudent; always looking for free or cheap won’t serve people well many times.

  36. It was a long time ago, but I didn’t get out of Comcast’s blacklist until pretty recently, like a year and a half. I couldn’t even deliver a HelpDesk reply to a Comcast email years after I was added. Once you make the list, getting off the list can take many years. I even wrote about it a few years ago on my ad tracker membership site:  Use A Comcast Email And You WILL NOT Hear From Us

    These’s a couple of databases you can search to see where you are banned, but I haven’t seen them in a while.

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