As email marketing continues to grow in popularity, there's little sign that marketers know what they're doing. Below are nine marketing emails I received in the past week, all of which make basic, fatal errors.

Quick note on terminology: the "teaser" is the first 20 or so words in the email, which typically appear in the recipient's Inbox display. Other than the Subject line, the teaser is what causes the recipient to open the email. 

Note: all of the email below were sent to me unsolicited, so I'm not bothering to edit out the names or the contact information. Just to be clear, with the exception of #9 (which is phishing SPAM), their product may very well be fabulous.

1. Apologizing for your email.

This example is particularly egregious since it comes from a large sales training firm. They've not only wasted the first half of their teaser repeating their corporate name but wasted the second half with the unsubscribe explanation. Doh!

2. Puzzling Subject line and teaser.

When it comes to email marketing, mysterious is the enemy of good. No decision-maker opens an email out of mere curiosity. Unless your email seems immediately relevant, most (sane) people will delete or ignore it.

3. Repeating the Subject line in the teaser.

I see this all the time: wasting the first half of the teaser repeating the information that's in the Subject line. Once is enough. Ideally the teaser should expand on the Subject line to help provide a compelling case to open the email.

4. Putting the date in the teaser (twice).

Seriously? Every email system in the world displays the date when the email was received. Nobody cares when it was sent. Also note that the first part of the teaser is wasted repeating the identity. Dumb.

5. A self-centered teaser.

Dude, I don't care what you want and I especially don't care if you're available to assist me (as always?). In email marketing you must establish your relevance before bringing yourself into the scenario.

6. An incomprehensible Subject line.

Say whut?

7. A questionable sender's email address.

Wow. AOL. Is that still a thing? Also, what's the craziness of putting the contact information at the top? If you're serious about email marketing, get a serious email address. Not Gmail or Hotmail and certainly not this refugee from the 1990s.

8. "Click to Webpage" in your teaser.

Unfortunately, several email marketing programs default with this ridiculous question in the teaser. It not only wastes the teaser but sounds like it's something from when email was something new and unreliable. 

9. Recipient's name in the Subject line.

Probably the best way to make certain your email will be deleted. Only SPAMmers do this. Please note that the message is indeed SPAM, but I frequently see legitimate email marketers trying this hackneyed, counterproductive personalization.

Published on: Feb 20, 2018
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