emailsWe’ve all received one at some point or another, and no matter whether we ‘signed-up’ or not, if a company sends an email that makes you a) shake your head b) say ‘no thank you’ or c) smash your face into your keyboard, then someone in the marketing department isn’t doing their job correctly.

As a marketing email may be the only chance you get to communicate with potential customers and enforce your brand’s reputation, it’s worth getting right. By following a few simple rules, such as having an attention-grabbing subject line, providing easy to use call-to-action buttons and ensuring your content is relevant, personalised and not misleading, then you should be on the right track.

Use your own experience as a rule of thumb and remember what really hacked you off and had exactly the opposite effect on what the sender was aiming for. Below are a few examples as to what makes an absolutely terrible marketing email, and if you’re considering sending out something that you wouldn’t like to receive yourself then stop and ask yourself: ‘why?’

Subject lines

‘Open me now’, ‘check this out’ or ‘I can save you money’, are probably best avoided. Stick to something along the lines of exactly what the recipient’s going to be reading when they open your email.

Over familiarity

‘Hey buddy’, ‘what’s up Chuck’ or ‘how you doing dude?’ for first approaches are best left for your friends, if you still have any. Be professional and use Mr or Mrs for an initial introduction and first names as you develop a relationship.


If you’re sending your email to a huge database then make sure your dynamic content is configured correctly, as there’s nothing worse than feeling that you’re not very special because your email starts: Dear (first name) (second name).

Jargon, abbreviations and acronyms

Avoid using words that only you know exist. Keep it simple and don’t assume your customers know what a special graphic confabulator is or that an ADI is incredibly important.

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

Check and get someone else to check because even if the rest of your content is amazing, it’s the spelling mistake or grammatical error that will stand out.

A lack of relevance

Do your research and find content that will be entertaining, useful and of interest to the reader, because there’s no greater turn off than receiving something that you couldn’t care less about.

Overuse of punctuation marks

Express yourself through words not through exclamation marks!!!

Allow recipients the right to reply and share

This is not only polite but also allows the reader to share your wonderful content and web links with their friends.

Don’t overcomplicate, waffle or go off on a tangent

Be concise and to the point and use ‘read more…’ links after a short paragraph to enable your audience to, urm, read more on your website.

Don’t send massive files that will a) block an inbox and b)not get past a firewall

For really obvious reasons.

Don’t over hassle with unwanted advances

No means NO and if someone opts out of your newsletter/email syndication then leave them be. Also, don’t bombard them with loads and loads of emails every day or week as it’s just annoying no matter what you’ve got to say.

Use compressed images that have ALT text and plain text options

Not everyone will have the capacity to view your fantastic (non-stock) images so bear this in mind when including them within your content.

Be aware of other correspondence that may have taken place

A well-known gym contacted me recently and had no idea who I was or what I’d experienced with them in the past. If you have a sales team or anyone else within your company who is contacting your mailing list then make sure you all know what stage your relationship has acquired.

Make sure CTA (calls to action) buttons are obvious and easy to use

This is basically why you’re sending an email.

Don’t trick or confuse readers by promising them more than you can offer or linking them to somewhere that they don’t want to go.

It’s not nice to read: ‘click here for free flights to Australia’ only to click and discover a ‘cheeky’ message saying ‘now I’ve got your attention, why not buy some cat food?’ A bit extreme but you get the point: tell your reader exactly what they can expect from a link and avoid negative bounce rate issues.

In a nutshell: don’t send out anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable receiving yourself.