The 7 Worst Marketing Emails You've Ever Seen

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Kipp Bodnar
Kipp Bodnar



Marketing shouldn't make people cry. Do you get marketing email that makes you want to punch your fist through your computer in hopes of actually connecting with the person that sent it. Marketing shouldn't suck this bad. Marketing should solve problems, not induce fits of rage.

Raise your hand, and repeat after me. "I will stop sending marketing emails that makes people want to punch me." Marketing automation shouldn't be about doing more crappy marketing with less effort. Instead, it should be about giving people valuable information in a personalized and contextual manner. Let's take a look at some TERRIBLE marketing emails and learn from them so that we can delight our prospects, leads, and customers.

7 Unbelievably Bad Marketing Automation Emails

1. Bragging About Clients: Really? You work with all of these companies? Wait...I don't care! These companies are not related to my business, and it doesn't matter what you did for them. It's also great to see that you needed to send a super LONG email to brag about yourself; thanks for wasting even more of my time.

Marketing Takeaway: Your prospects and leads don't care who you work with. They care about what you can do for them. Send them marketing email that is customized to their business needs with specific recommendations for them.

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2. Terrible Event Follow-Up: Could the email below be more obvious that it's a mass email? This sender was so lazy, that he/she put everyone who attended two events on the same list and sent them all the same email. They also include three separate calls-to-action, and the first one for a free trial doesn't even include a link. This couldn't be less personal.

Marketing Takeaway: Understand how each person gets added to your email list. Use this information combined with their interaction with your website and content to provide them with personalized content and calls-to-action (CTAs). And stick with one CTA per email, please!

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3. Failure to Test: Nothing (and I mean nothing) demonstrates a lack of personalization better than an error message that displays instead of the recipient's name. By not sending a test email to check for technical issues, you can instantly lose credibility as a marketer.

Marketing Takeaway: Great marketing automation is about more than just compelling content. It's about making sure all the details are perfect. Your marketing is the first experience that a potential customer faces. Make this process perfect by testing your email marketing sends to ensure that the formatting and personalization features work correctly.

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4. Forgetting to Nurture: Really? We just met, and you already want to get married? That is often what bad marketing automation email can feel like. Too many emails like the one below go straight into the sales pitch without any prior nurturing.

Marketing Takeaway: Plan your communication with prospects and leads to ensure that you have included several steps of sending educational information before transitioning into product-focused information.

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5. The Scariest Unsubscribe Link Ever: One way to make sure people never unsubscribe from your emails is to scare the heck out of them. Check out the email below: it has a three line long unsubscribe link. When I saw it, I thought about the terror that could be inflicted on me and my email address if I clicked on it. To top it off, this email is completely self-serving.

Marketing Takeaway: Make it easy for people to opt in and out of your email marketing efforts. And again, don't talk about why you are awesome. Instead, help make the person you're emailing more awesome.

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6. Horrible Subject Line: An interesting subject line can make or break the success of an email. Nothing says compelling subject line like "Marketing List." Seriously? That is just bad. To make it worse, this email goes on to prove itself irrelevant and REALLY long. It keeps going well past the screen shot below.

Marketing Takeaway: Invest time in great subject line writing. Test different variations with A/B tests to determine which subject line copy works best for your business.

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7. Complete Disregard for Targeting: What you see below is a seemingly well-designed and -written email. The problem lies in targeting. I am not a customer of this company. Their targeting is completely off. To make horrible targeting even worse, the email is about nothing. It has no clear action for me to take. It really has no purpose but to take up space in my inbox.

Marketing Takeaway: Understand what your subscribers want from your email. Send them clear and actionable messages. Don't waste paragraphs of text that basically say nothing. Keep your email copy brief with a prominent desired action.

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Email shouldn't be evil. Email should be helpful! What other email marketing mistakes have you noticed in your inbox?

Image Credit: Generation Bass

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