Five More Types of Emails Marketers Should Never Send

Posted by Guy Hanson on

Maintaining trust in the email channel is critical to email marketing ROI. If mailbox providers and end users start treating your legitimate messages as spam, your sender reputation—and ultimately deliverability—will suffer.

Last week, we revealed how marketers can help preserve trust by outlining five types of emails they should never send. Below, we review five more.

1. Emails with phishy content
Generally speaking, today’s email filters are less sensitive to so-called “spam triggers”—you can use the word “FREE” in your subject line or body and you won’t necessarily end up in your subscribers’ junk folders. However, you still need to be careful.

For example, one Return Path customer, a major Australian bank with a best-in-class email program, saw extremely high junk folder placement rates for a campaign. When digging into the problem, we found that the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) acronym used in the campaign was the culprit. ASX is also an acronym for an activity that more commonly takes place behind closed curtains, and we suspect this contributed to poor placement rates for this email.

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2. Emails sent out of context
Make sure that every email you send will make sense to the user receiving it. Subscribers who receive a confusing or irrelevant message are more likely to reject it.

Take the example below from a French maternity clothing company. In an effort to re-engage their audience, they sent a re-activation campaign. This strategy can often be a good one. The only trouble is, this company sent the campaign to users who subscribed three years prior. While it’s possible that some of these users were pregnant again, this assumption is too far-fetched to support an entire email campaign.

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3. Emails that don’t deliver value
Today’s user doesn’t have patience for emails that don’t deliver value. Particularly if they’re giving your company a lot of business. If you buy a Jaguar, for example, you don’t want a welcome email—you want a 20 percent discount on car accessories.

A more common illustration of this principle is birthday emails. Most subscribers expect they will receive some type of discount or a free gift from B2C vendors on their birthday. So, if your company sends them birthday wishes without any kind offer, they will likely delete it. The email below from House of Fraser is a great example of what you should send to users on their birthdays.

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4. Emails that make unsolicited recommendations
Targeting based on user activity can help create a great user experience—but only if those recommendations are relevant.

We’ve all seen the ”We assume you were interested in this product based on your browsing history!” email. Sometimes this assumption is correct. Sometimes not. Even best-in-class marketers get it wrong. For example, Amazon knows that my musical tastes are on the indie/rock spectrum. But I recently bought a KT Tunstall album for my wife. Now, they assume I like KT Tunstall too (which is a bit annoying).

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5. Emails with mistakes
The devil is in the details. Sending out an email with the wrong offer, the wrong personalization, incorrect terms and conditions, and/or spelling mistakes can botch the results of your campaign.

Just a few days ago, I received this acquisition email, professing to have a big interest in the company I work for:

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No marketing team is perfect, and consumers are understanding. If you make a mistake like this one, own up to it—and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Email marketing ROI depends on your brand reputation—and your reputation hinges on best email sending practices like these along with strong email authentication.

To learn more tips on how marketers can help preserve the effectiveness of the email channel, check out the recent webinar we hosted with Experian Marketing Services, Why Marketers Should Fight 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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