12 Guaranteed Ways to Annoy Your Email Recipients

by Pamela Vaughan

Date

September 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM

angry womanWithout a doubt, email marketing can be a powerful lever in your inbound marketing mix. It can help you nurture prospects, connect with existing customers, distribute your content, and yes, generates tons of coveted leads for your business.

But that said, email can be tricky, and there is a fine line between sending contacts in your database emails they want to open and enjoy reading, and ticking them off. And the price of ticking them off? An email database that atrophies at a much higher rate. As you create your email marketing strategy and the specific emails that it includes, use this checklist to avoid rubbing your email recipients the wrong way.

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Tick Off Your Email Database

1. Violating CAN-SPAM Laws: Are you still emailing people who have already opted out of your database? Perhaps you're just not making it possible for people to opt out in the first place. Do these things, and you'll not only make your email recipients angry, but you're also likely to get into some legal trouble. First and foremost, make sure you understand and adhere to CAN-SPAM legislation.

2. Failing to Include Your Company Logo or Visual Brand Recognition: Make it so your recipients can immediately tell who your email is from when they open it. Not including a company logo or some visually identifiable image that they automatically associate with your brand might cause them to believe it's spam and prevent them from even reading your email in the first place.

3. Not Optimizing the Alt Text of Your Images: If your email client doesn't display images by default, well...things can get pretty ugly. Be sure to edit the alt text of each image you include with descriptive keywords (not the default file name like img_3058), or you'll come off as sloppy and unprofessional to your email recipients.

4. Having Nothing to Offer: You shouldn't be emailing your database just for the sake of emailing them. People open email because they want to get something from it. Make sure you're including an offer of some sort -- whether it's premium content, a discount/coupon, or some other special opportunity just for them. 

5. Providing No Value: To piggyback off of number 4, you also need to make sure that whatever you're offering in your email is valuable to your audience. Be sure you're optimizing your emails to include your top offers. Emailing just any old thing is a guaranteed way to entice your email recipients to opt out.

6. Including Too Many Offers: Furthermore, including multiple calls-to-action for different offers in your email is the perfect way to confuse your recipients and encourage them to click 'delete.' As a best practice, stick with just one offer per email. You can include more than one call-to-action in your email, but make sure they are all promoting the same offer.

7. Not Segmenting Your List: Most likely, your email database doesn't include a one-size-fits-all group of contacts. And likely, your products and services cater to different types of personas. Treat your email database that way. Segment your list into various groups, and send those groups personalized emails that target their specific wants and needs. Sending email messages that are broadly targeted, not relevant, and mostly impersonal is a great way to whittle your list down to nothing.

8. Making Emails Too Lengthy, Difficult to Read, and Not Easily Scannable: Chances are, your email isn't the only one sitting in your recipients' inboxes. Likely, your readers will only give your email a few moments to capture their attention, so make sure it's brief, to the point, easy to scan, and has clear, concise language that makes it simple to read and understand quickly. Create an eye path with bold fonts, links, and bullet points to help readers skim; use colorful language; and communicate the offer with simple text, not fancy jargon.

9. Omitting Social Media Sharing Buttons/Links: If you've gotten the reader past the hurdle of reading the email and valuing its contents, don't make it difficult for them to share it! If a recipient has to copy/paste links within your email to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you're doing it wrong. Include social media sharing links and buttons in every email you send to make it easy for your contacts to spread your messages if they want to, which will (BONUS) also expand your email's reach!

10. Sending Emails When Everyone Else Sends Them: It doesn't matter if your contact loves receiving and reading your emails. If that person's inbox is flooded with emails from vendors all at the same time, they'll likely bulk delete them just to purge their inbox of all that annoying "spam." When sending emails, consider times when your competitors email and try counter-competitive timing so your email reaches recipients' inboxes at time when they're under less water.

11. Sending Emails Too Frequently (or Infrequently): Don't spam your list! While our own data shows that businesses might not be emailing enough, don't cross the line between being top-of-mind and annoying. Furthermore, understand the habits of your target audience. Every business and industry is different. Some audiences might be more receptive to more frequent messages, while others might tap out at a certain number in a given time period. Test your frequency to determine the optimal number of times to email your database in a given time. And be sure you're segmenting! 

12. Continuing to Email Inactive List Members: Every email database has inactive members. These are people who religiously delete the emails you send (or worse -- mark them as spam) but are too lazy to opt out of your list. Continuing to email inactive members is annoying to those members, and it can also mess with your emails' deliverability to other recipients who actually want to receive and read your email content. Take a deep breath, and just remove those contacts on your list who haven't interacted with your email marketing in the last 120 days.

Tick off your email contacts enough, and they'll unsubscribe, hurting your reach and ultimately, your lead generation efforts. What other ways of making your email marketing database angry should marketers avoid?

Photo Credit: A of DooM

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