8 Things You Need to Stop Doing in Your Marketing Emails

8 Things You Need to Stop Doing in Your Marketing Emails

Do you know that 70% of ‘this is spam’ complaints are marketing emails? That’s a big number!

And it’s terrifying to know that a big chunk of our marketing failure is all from email marketing.

For some people, email marketing is the best way to go, while for some, it can be so hard and frustrating that they would rather adopt other marketing strategies.

But before you do that, why don’t you analyze your marketing email first? Maybe you’re not really that unfortunate, and it’s just how you craft your emails that makes it so awful nobody wants to open it.

So, without further ado, here are the top things you should stop doing in your marketing emails to increase open rates and conversions.

8 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing

1. Generic subject line

Serious question. How many emails do you receive every day? Maybe too much that you can’t read every single one of them.

According to The Radicati Group, 1.9 billion of non-spam emails are sent every day. In the U.S. alone, 43% of adults said that more than half of their emails are coming from marketers.

What are the odds that your email will be opened? Or even just be noticed?

Too low if your subject line is not as brilliant as Buzzfeed’s email subject lines.

Buzzfeed Subject Line

Subject line is one of the most crucial parts of an email, that’s why you have to be very careful when creating one.

Good thing there are ways that you can follow to make sure that your emails will go directly to your recipients inbox – which means higher chance to be opened!

  1. Avoid spammy words like “free,” “limited time,” “buy,” and using all caps, such as “REMINDER,” and “CLICK.”
  2. Be clear. Being witty or super creative with the subject line is fine, but be sure that you’re not compromising clarity. Be clear with your message and intention, and avoid disappointing your recipients by putting up subject line that will not be further explained on the content.
  3. Be concise. Subject line that works have 50 characters or fewer. Concise subject line is recommended if you want it to be fully displayed in email pane – especially for mobile devices.

A good subject line is not too generic that it doesn’t really speak with receivers, rather, it should urge them to do something or that they should benefit from reading it.

2. Images that don’t display properly

We’ve all experienced receiving emails with broken images.

I know… that’s frustrating.

Although you can’t always blame yourself, or your email marketers for instances like this, because let’s face it, not all recipients can see visual elements – some can only receive in plain text.

What you can do instead is to limit the usage of images, and make sure that you have proper ALT text for all your images to keep your readers away from being curious and clueless on what your images are all about.

Buzzfeed ALT Text

3. Using of “noreply” email

Lomography Noreply

Generic addresses, especially ‘no-reply’ prevent your readers from engaging with your business. And we don’t want that.

We want to receive emails with email addresses that we can send a reply – where we can ask questions, or give feedback.

‘No-reply’ email address has also been proven to decrease open rates, and increase unsubscribe and complaint rates.

If you’re not yet convinced that you should give up using ‘no-reply’ email, perhaps this guideline will finally persuade you.


The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

“Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.”[bqc]

4. Generic salutation

Personalization is a very important part of email creation. We give value and attention to emails that we know is made especially for us. And how do we know it’s for us?

When it’s addressed to us – when names are mentioned.

So stop that “To whom it may concern,” “Dear Sir,” or worst “{INSERTFIRSTNAME}” salutation and start using actual names.

“…years and years of sifting through emails has conditioned people to discard anything that doesn’t come from a recognizable friend or family member and/or doesn’t open with a personalized greeting. Any message that doesn’t refer to the recipient by name is getting discarded—period—never to be pondered again. You have to be on a first-name basis with your recipient. That’ll get you in the door, so to speak, and leave the recipient open to reading your message.” -Dan Forootan (How Important Is Personalization To Your Email Marketing Campaign?)

5. Misleading content

We’ve been promising something good in our subject line. Now we make sure that the content justifies it.

I’ve been subscribed to HubSpot for quite sometime now, and they never fail to keep their promises. When they say that a free guide or eBook is included, expect that a download link is included in that email – and expect that it’s really free.

HubSpot Email Content

Just like the subject, avoid using spam trigger words like “prize,” “free,” “bonus,” “buy,” and “order.” Instead, use persuasive words like “because,” “you,” and “imagine.”

You can use HubSpot’s The Ultimate List of Email Spam Trigger Words to know what to avoid.

6. No call-to-action

Unless you’re doing a personal email, and you just want to say ‘hi,’ you need to put call-to-action.

The very reason why you’re marketing through email is because you want to sell something, or perhaps you want your readers to benefit something for you. The point is you either want to give, or you need something – usually both.

Make your intentions clear by putting call-to-action. And guide your audience on what to do – until the very last step.

“Be clear and direct with your users, telling them exactly what you’d like them to do.”Conversion Rate Experts

KISSmetrics has always been generous with giving steps and options. Just take this example below:

KISSmetrics Call to Action

Including a short explanation or bullets of your product’s features with call-to-action button is also a good way to convert.

Evernote Call to Action

7. Multiple emails with the same content

Weeks ago, I committed a mistake that nobody should ever follow.

I published a post in SEO Hacker, and later on decided to modify the headline and slugs. There’s nothing wrong with that – you can always change your title and slugs if you feel that it’s necessary to do so. However, when your published post is automatically being sent to thousands of subscribers, then you have to be careful.

In Aweber, which is our email marketing software, every time we publish an article, it automatically sends an update to our subscribers like this:

SEO Hacker Email Marketing

Once it’s sent, and you modified the slugs of your post, it will generate a new email – regardless if it’s the same post or not. That’s what I did, and that’s the dangerous part.

Just by modifying the slugs, I have sent two emails (in the same day) containing two different titles but the same content and is directed to the same article.

SEO Hacker Email Marketing Mistake

Not a very nice move!

It can confuse your readers, or they may not give importance to your emails at all, because really, who wants to be bombarded with multiple emails with the same content?

8. No option to unsubscribe

Admit it, even if you have compelling content, there will always be people who won’t like (or will stop liking) receiving marketing emails. That’s why you need to give them the option to unsubscribe – and make it visible.

Last year, Google (for Gmail) added a new feature, displaying the unsubscribe links at the top of messages.

Unsubscribe Google Feature

“Making the unsubscribe option easy to find is a win for everyone,” Google wrote in a Google+ post.

But whether released or not, you should always include an ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Final thought

Sometimes we get so excited, we want to jump right in and just do things for marketing’s sake, leaving no chance for proper planning and execution.

But, that’s not how it should be – even in email marketing.

Once in a while, you need to do an audit of your email marketing. Ask yourself, “how is it working for me?”, “what are the things I need to improve?” Then you can try different styles, different approaches, perhaps different tones, but never ever commit these 8 email marketing sins. Unless you want it directly in the spam folder of your recipients.

Happy email marketing!

Email Marketing,

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.