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Top 10 Worst Practices for Email Marketing

By John McTigueAug 24, 2011

Despite all of the calls for relationship building and inbound marketing these days, the evil spector of email spam is alive and well. I get tons of it every day, and I'm sure you do too. Despite all of our efforts to filter it out, the unsolicited marketing blasts come rolling in like a storm surge every day. What's worse is that many of us know better, yet we engage in this nefarious activity at the behest of our clients or, even worse we use it ourselves to boost our own products and services! So how do we know when an email qualifies as "evil"? Here are my top 10 indicators:

top 10 worst practices for email marketing

  1. Your email list is not an "opt-in" list. It's just a list, and the poor suckers on the other end have no idea what's coming.
  2. You don't honor unsubscribes and bounces. You might as well barge into their offices, point a gun to their heads and force them to deal with your email.
  3. Your email isn't relevant to their real interests. It's just a shotgun blast. Send it out and hope for a few percent opens.
  4. Your subject is useless or misleading. At a glance, nobody can tell what the e-mail is about, or worse, you make some sort of outlandish offer that you then don't deliver.
  5. Your email is long and full of broken links. Great. A bunch of images that don't show because you didn't use the full URL or links that go nowhere. Nice work. Do you really think people will read a copy of your landing page slapped into MailChimp or Constant Contact?
  6. Your email has spelling and grammar mistakes. You're assuming a lot that people will even notice, but if they do, end of attention span.
  7. You send the same email over and over. Are you nuts? Now you're inviting a lawsuit or maybe a vigilante committee to come and whisk you away to a prison in a remote region of the world.
  8. You follow up the same bad email with a bad email nurturing campaign. See #7. Are you insane?
  9. Your content sucks. Nothing worse than having somebody open your email, take the time to click through and sign up on your landing page, only to download something useless. If your content is weak, don't publish it at all. You're just pouring gasoline on the fire.
  10. Your hypocrisy is becoming well known. You claim to be an honest broker, an expert on white-hat marketing, but you routinely use black hat email methods. You can run, but you can't hide.

Folks, this ain't rocket surgery. Use your head. Before you blast out emails, develop a strategy and a policy for attracting customers, not driving them away. Nobody on this planet wants another email, so you have to be very judicious about your use of email marketing. Send out invitations to real events and really useful content, not advertisements and self promotions. Use e-mail to stay in touch with real customers and/or leads that have expressed an interest through opt-ins. But don't do it every five minutes!

Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg


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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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