The 9 worst ways to use email... and how to do better!

Email Marketing
Dec 8
10 min read
‍Today, we're discussing some of the worst ways you can use email marketing. Why such a negative, Debbie-downer-type post? Because sometimes, knowing what not to do will help you learn what you should do.
Two hand with a NO between - Photo Photo by Monstera on Pexels

Let's be honest for a moment. There are a lot of really bad emails sent each day, like thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. Don't believe us? How many emails do you get in a day or a week that you don't even bother to open? You simply click the checkbox next to it and then click delete. We all do it.

Now think about the person or company that sent that email. And think about the time and resources spent to send you that email. Someone had to plan out that email. Then someone had to write, code, develop, add links to, test, and ultimately send it. All for you to just chuck it in your digital wastebasket mere seconds after seeing it.

Eventually, you might even unsubscribe from their list, forgetting why you signed up in the first place.

That brand, person, company, or service did a terrible job keeping you as a customer.

But why? Or more importantly, how?

So, without further doom and gloom, let's go over the 9 worst ways to use email marketing.

#1 - Sending unsolicited emails

If you've ever been on the receiving end of an unsolicited email, you know how frustrating it can be. Not only is it a waste of your time, but it's also a huge intrusion into your inbox. And yet, somehow, people still think that sending unsolicited emails is a good way to do email marketing.

In reality, it's one of the worst possible ways to try and promote your business. Not only will you alienate potential customers, but you'll also damage your reputation and run the risk of being marked as spam. So next time you're tempted to send out an unsolicited email blast, just remember how annoying it is to receive one. Trust us, your recipients will thank you for it.

What to do instead

Don't be a jerk–respect people's inboxes and only send emails to people who have actually signed up to receive them. People usually sign up for lists because they offer something valuable–a coupon, membership perks, exclusive content, etc.

If someone on your list didn't agree to receive what you're sending, then they shouldn't be on your list. Plain and simple.

If you want more people to get on your list, offer something more valuable.

#2 - Not personalizing emails

Email marketing is one of the most efficient and effective ways to reach out to potential and current customers. It allows businesses to target a wide audience with a personalized message at a low cost. However, one of the biggest mistakes businesses can make is sending out mass emails that are not personalized.

This comes across as impersonal and lazy and can alienate potential customers. After all, who wants to receive an email that looks like it was sent to a million other people?

Personalized emails show that you value your customers and are willing to take the time to connect with them personally. This can go a long way in building customer loyalty and generating sales. So if you're not personalizing your emails, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with your customers.

What to do instead

When you collect emails, you have an opportunity to ask for more information–name, occupation, location, and more. If your email is valuable, people will gladly give you some of that information. Why not use it, then?

But, you don't want just to use it all willy-nilly. Instead, the personalization should make sense to the person you're sending it to. For example, if you're offering a coupon on kids' clothes, you are probably wasting your time sending an email to someone without kids.

A great email marketing service should offer personalization and customization on multiple levels. It should help you make your emails stand out to your recipients.

#3 - Emailing too frequently (or not enough)

Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and promote your products or services. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you bombard your subscribers with too many emails, they're likely to tune out or even unsubscribe.

On the flip side, sending one email every couple of months is also not a great strategy. People can quickly forget about you unless you give them a reason to remember.

What to do instead

Find the sweet spot of how often you should send an email. If it's been too long, force yourself to adopt a new strategy and find ways to offer your audience more value.

Ask yourself, "Should I send this email?" If you can't emphatically say, "Yes!" Then perhaps you should reconsider.

#4 - Not using an email marketing service

If you don’t use an email marketing service, you’re missing out on many key features that can make your life easier and help you get the most out of your email marketing campaigns. For starters, an email marketing service can provide you with templates and design tools to create beautiful, professional-looking emails.

It can also help you to manage your contact lists and track who’s opening and clicking through your emails. In addition, a good email marketing service will offer reporting and analytics so that you can see how your campaigns are performing and make necessary adjustments.

Without an email marketing service, you’re likely to end up with poor-quality emails that don’t achieve your desired results.

What to do instead

Try out a few services and find one that fits your needs. Some, like Cakemail, even offer a free version of their software to help you get started.

#5 - Using terrible subject lines

The subject line is the first thing your recipient sees, and it sets the tone for the rest of the email. Some marketers believe you should spend as much time building your subject line as you spend building the full email. That's how important subject lines can be.

A strong subject line can make the difference between someone opening your email and immediately deleting it.

But what about bad subject lines? Using a bad subject line is like heading into a job interview wearing ripped jeans and a dirty t-shirt. You might get lucky and land the job, but chances are you're not going to make much of an impression. The same goes for email marketing. Using a bad subject line is a surefire way to get your recipients to hit delete.

What to do instead

Knowing a good subject line from a bad one takes time and experience. The best way to learn is to do A/B testing. By sending one subject line to a part of your audience and another to a different part, you can look for trends and information to help you on your copywriting journey.

Remember, the goal of a subject line is to get them to open your email–however, that doesn't mean you want to be spammy or adopt a "Buzzfeed" strategy that could piss the recipient off after they open it.

Subject lines should be enticing but also make sense within the context of the email itself. Take time and practice your copywriting until you reach a subject line that you would look at and say, "Yes, I'd open this."

#6 - Including too much text (and no images) in the email

Too much text in an email can be overwhelming and make it difficult for the reader to find the information they are looking for. This can make emails seem daunting and lead recipients to delete them without even giving them a chance. In today's fast-paced world, people are more likely to respond positively to an email that is concise and easy to scan.

What to do instead

Keep copy to a minimum. Instead, focus on including visuals in your email marketing campaigns. A well-designed graphic can be worth a thousand words and can help you communicate your message more effectively.

But don't just slap any ol' photo into some text and call it a day. Use a nice graphic that's clean, not pixelated, and that matches the purpose of the email.

#7 - Not testing emails before sending them

We've all been there-you're about to click send on an important email, but you didn't fully check for grammatical errors. Or maybe you forgot to make sure the links work. Whatever the case may be, it's always a good idea to test your email before you hit send. Send it to yourself or your team and double-check how it looks, if everything downloads, and if all the links lead to where you want them to.

What to do instead

Taking the time to test your email before sending it off can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. So next time you're about to click send, take a few minutes to make sure everything is just right. Your future self will thank you!

#8 - Sending an email without a call-to-action

Imagine you've spent hours developing and crafting the perfect email. You're happy and proud, and you can't wait for your customers to receive it because you know it's full of value for them. You can just picture the sales rolling in.

Only a week or so later, you check your stats and discover that no one has done anything. What gives?

The chances are you forgot to put in a call to action. A CTA is something you want the recipient to do. It could be to visit a website, download a file, use a coupon code, or just about anything else.

If you don't explicitly ask for it, your customer may not know to do it, and that makes your email pretty much worthless. All those resources you spent developing it are just flowing down the drain.

What to do instead

After your email is ready to go, take an extra moment and consider how clear the purpose of your email is to the recipient. Do you have CTA buttons or links? Are you openly asking them a question?

Every email should have a goal. What is the goal of the email you're sending?

#9 - Sending emails without value

Emails are a convenient way to stay in touch with friends, family, and business contacts. However, in email marketing, it's important only to send emails that offer value. If every email you send is just a regurgitation of news headlines or sales pitches, your recipients will likely tune you out quickly. Instead, focus on sending interesting, informative, or entertaining emails. That way, your contacts will actually look forward to hearing from you.

People don't sign up for an email list simply looking for more emails. They sign up for email lists because they see something in it for them.

What to do instead

The old adage of "What's in it for me (WIIFM)" is still true today as it was over the last hundred years of marketing. Ask yourself or challenge your team to consider what the audience is getting from your emails. Make sure it's worth the time and resources it will take your company to build a strong email marketing strategy and send out email campaigns.

Email marketing can be a great way to keep in touch with your customers and increase sales, but it can also be abused. In this article, we’ve outlined the 9 worst ways to use email marketing- so you can avoid these mistakes and make the most of this powerful tool. We’ve also included a better way to use email marketing for each one. So what are you waiting for? Start using email marketing the right way today!

And if you need a partner that's going to take your email marketing to the next level, consider trying out Cakemail. You won't regret it.

Share this