3 Email Marketing Mistakes You Should Never, Ever Make

By Hannah Eisenberg - December 09, 2014

3 email marketing mistakesOne of my favorite times of the day is the afternoon. I really enjoy the few minutes of solitude between the hustle and bustle of work and the loud craziness when my two preschoolers come home.

Yesterday it was nice and sunny, so I decided to take a quick walk. As I am almost finish up my round and turn homewards, I check my emails on my phone to see if something urgent popped up.

And that's when I see an email from a name I don't recognize with the subject line: "Let's Meet" and the preview reads something like "I miss you."

This is either really bad email marketing or I am officially creeped out.

I decide to open the email - and of course it's a marketing message trying to get me to buy cookies:

Creepy Email Marketing

You might read this and think, what's her problem?

Well, for starters I did not opt-in to their email list, they creeped me out and - since they are writing to an unsegmented list and want to appeal to every nameless face out there - their copy is forcing intimacy instead of earning it.

They committed three deadly sins on how to not use email marketing for lead generation:

1) Never buy email lists

While there is no way of saying this for sure, but the company probably bought an email list with my email address on it. I have never had a Gimmee Jimmy cookie, nor have I ever signed up to receive their emails.

It's the holiday time and the pressure is on for marketers to deliver. The masses of emails that every one of us receives in November and December resembles more of a tsunami than a steady flow. As a marketer I get it. It seems like a quick win to buy an email list and blast them with messages just before the holidays.

But what might seem like a quick win can ultimately hurt you. Consumers stand up for their right for privacy: According to Radicati, 84% of all email marketing messages are considered spam. Eighty four percent!

And while it is healthy for subscribers to opt-out of your email list once they are no longer interested, it is not okay to be considered spam. Once too many people have reported your emails as spam your sender score will go down. This means that your emails might not be delivered anymore, even to people who signed up to receive them.

2) Creep people out

Let's say you are going on a first date with someone you met online. You arrive a little early, a little nervous, but excited. And as soon as your date walks in, you are totally creeped out and you curse the moment you picked the cozy corner spot with no exit strategy.

Now, let's consider the email above. Most people value their personal space and don't want creepy intruders.

According to Salesforce, 64% of people open the emails because of the subject line. Be funny, be interesting, or even a little nerdy - but never, ever creepy!

3) Earn Permission

The name of the game to successful marketing is to gain people's permission to talk to them.

I cannot stress enough how important this is.

Give your visitors options on your website to opt-in to communication with you and make sure you start segmenting by buyer persona right away to be able to address their needs and interests with targeted emails.

But if they have not given you permission or they opted out, do not contact them.


Email is one of the strongest lead generation tools you have in your marketing tool belt, if used correctly. Keep your lists clean, don't be creepy and earn your recipients permission first before contacting them.

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