5 Types of Emails Marketers Should Never Send

Posted by Guy Hanson on

Sending email is like sending a postcard—the content is visible at many different stops within the mail flow before it reaches its destination.

But, unlike postcards, email messages sent from companies like yours must pass through two types of checks: technical authentication checks for mailbox providers to deliver the message and subjective checks for users to trust and engage with the message.

Both kinds of checks are important—even if a legitimate email authenticates properly and gets delivered, if users don’t trust it, they will likely flag it as spam and/or delete it.

To preserve the effectiveness of your legitimate messages, here are five types of emails that marketers should never send.

1. Emails that break the law
Most countries have legislation that specifically governs the conduct of email senders. CAN-SPAM in the US and PECR in the UK are well-known examples.

This legislation includes minimum requirements for consent, identification of the sender, and how to opt-out of receiving future emails. Senders who do not comply with these requirements will not only upset their users but will also be liable for prosecution by enforcement bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

2. Unsolicited emails
The most successful email programs are ones that have established trust between sender and recipient. Trust in email starts with getting permission to correspond with users. Best-in-class email marketers go further by:

  • Obtaining subscribers’ explicit consent to send emails
  • Setting/honoring expectations about what they will receive and how often
  • Providing users with the ability to easily change their marketing preferences

If your company does not establish this foundation of trust at the beginning of each and every subscriber life cycle, then you should not be sending emails.

3. Emails that contain password reminders (or any other PII)
Many companies still send passwords via email to users who forget their login details. This is a dangerous practice as user email accounts can be hacked.

According to secure email provider TopMail, 83% of people use the same password for more than one account online. If one password is stolen, all kinds of sensitive PII (Personally Identifiable Information) are potentially at risk of exposure, such as bank account numbers or healthcare information.

Instead of sending an old password via email, send a temporary password or a link to a “change your password” page on your website.

4. Emails containing attachments
Even when the intention is entirely legitimate, sending marketing emails with attachments is a bad idea.

Messages with attachments often end up in the junk folder automatically. If they do make it to the inbox, most recipients won’t trust them. Attachments are the hallmark of many phishing scams, so any legitimate emails containing them will likely be deleted.

5. Emails that are poorly timed
Poorly timed emails can set off alarm bells for recipients. For example, if your company sends a Valentine’s Day promotional email very late in the day, the majority of your subscribers may see the message on February 15 instead. As a result, your emails will get deleted, making you look like a bad actor to the Mailbox Providers, and driving up your filtering rates.

A combination of good sending practices and strong authentication is the best way to preserve the performance of your email marketing program.

To learn more about what marketers can do to help optimize the email channel, download our eBook, “The Marketers Guide to Email Fraud.


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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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