Email Sins - Don’t Make Me Block You

Email Sins - Don’t Make Me Block You
Jamie Lee Wallace - Mon May 10, 2010 @ 06:19AM
Comments: 12

As the hard-working Savvy team builds a bigger audience, we find that we are also attracting more and more unsolicited offers for services ranging from SEO to marketing automation to domain name insurance. Typically, these offers arrive by way of Email - tumbling haphazardly into the Savvy mailbox where one of us retrieves the communication and promptly forwards it to the rest of the team with editorial comments that are not fit to print.

Some of these "offers" are clearly scams aimed at scaring us into revealing some personal or site-related information, but - at least as often - the emails are sent by real companies who are - honest-to-goodness - trying to make first contact with a prospective client. For real? For real.

I'm not mean-spirited enough to re-print any of the offending communications, but I can't imagine what these people were thinking when they hit the "send" button. Not only do these emails fail to inspire my interest in the company's services; they insult my intelligence, make a bad first impression, and - more often than not - move me to mark the sender as a spammer. Pow! You've been blocked. The door has been slammed in your spammy face. Game over.

The Sins:

Completely impersonal - You can tell the minute you start reading one of the emails that it's part of a massive blast that is probably going out to email addresses "scraped" off sites that met certain keyword criteria. There's no sense that the sender has any idea what we actually do here or any first-hand experience of the site.

Lack of context - There is no explanation about why I'm receiving this email, how the person found me, or who the heck they are. Typically, these emails just get right in my face, "shouting" at me about some fabulous promise the sender wants to make about services and/or results.

No useful content - Unlike professionally-written lead generation emails, these messages don't contain any useful content. There is no information about the company, their services or products, where I can get additional information, who I can call with questions, third-party recommendations, or why I ought to give a rat's hiney. If you're cold calling via email, you better make sure that your email puts your best foot forward. And, if your best foot is a three-line, text-based email that says "Hey - we can optimize you site for not a lot of money and you will get much traffic." Don't bother.

Bad spelling and grammar - Why, oh why are these emails rife with misspellings, incomplete sentences, and a general absence of punctuation? Is it a language barrier, laziness, a broken spellchecker? Please make it stop.

Missing Contact Information - These emails rarely include a proper footer. Every email you send should include full contact information (name, title, phone number, email address, company Web site, etc) as well as a way to opt out of future emails (sort of like signing up for the Do-not-call list). It's just common sense and common courtesy.

These are not big hurdles to overcome. Not that I want to continue having to sift through unsolicited emails, but - for the love of cheese and chocolate - if you're going to send me something, at least make it less painful to read. Otherwise, I'm going to block your aspidistra and any future attempts to contact me will fall into the deep, dark pit that is the spam blocker. Have fun!


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About the Author: Jamie is a freelance consultant and copywriter who partners with small businesses, start-ups, and creative professionals to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, or drop her an email.

Comments: 12


1. Jeff Ogden  |  my website   |   Mon May 10, 2010 @ 09:34AM

Great post and so very true, Jamie. As soon as I look at an email, I use my mental spam filter. Was it written just to me? Or is it impersonal? Do they know anything about me or is it generic? Is it sloppy with mis-spelled words?

Thanks for sharing and, if you don't mind, please add Fearless Competitor to your Blogroll.

Thank you.

2. Hans de Groot  |  my website   |   Mon May 10, 2010 @ 09:24PM

Very true, Jamie.

The good thing however is that in a lot of countries you are nowadays only allowed to send emails to people who have subscribed to your news(letter).

That solves your first 3 sins:
- you are able to personalize the email
- only people that have subscribed receive the email
- and they (probably) subscribed because they are interested in what you have to tell them.

This obligation (double opt-in subscription) may reduce the size of your mailing list dramatically, but you can be sure the people that receive your email are really interested in what you have to say.

Of course you have to find (new) ways to get people/prospects interested in your products/services. But that's not a problem, that's a challenge.


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