If you’re like most people, you sign up to get a few emails from the brands you care about. A lot of them are helpful and some of them are even a joy. But there’s something that can drive anyone away – when the emails become an annoyance.
With most people getting an average of 126 emails a day, there is a lot of competition. And a succession of annoyances may cause someone to hit the unsubscribe button or even mark you as spam. So don’t make the mistakes that cause your subscribers to feel you’re annoying.
Here are the 5 things email marketers do that I find annoying. Maybe you’ve experienced some of them and can relate.
“Hey. It’s me again!” – Sending too many emails
The friendly cashier encouraged me to sign up for the email list at a specialty food store I frequent. I guess after seeing me so many times she could tell it would be perfect for me. Plus, they give you a substantial coupon for money off your next time shopping. Count me in!
It was a smart move and kept me updated on new things to try and the promotions they ran. I always, without fail, opened their emails. They emailed me almost every day, which is admittedly a lot. But their emails were so good! They were beautifully designed and written and I got a good feeling from them, which is hard to do with a marketing email.
Then, the emails started arriving in the morning with a second email later that afternoon. Two emails a day? I started getting the feeling it was like the friend who pops in not once in a while, but constantly. Or that person who calls frequently and usually when you’re in the middle of something.
Sometimes more emails are not better. Hopefully, your subscribers like you, and maybe some of them love you. But it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself if you are sending too frequently.
Also, you can offer customization to allow your subscribers to choose how often they hear from you. Maybe sending a lot of emails is good for your company, but not everyone who signs up. By giving people a way to choose, you retain more subscribers.
“What was your name again?” – Bad personalization
For a long time, I’ve been on the email list of a Cuban restaurant I enjoy. I remember the day I signed up. After a delicious meal, they handed me a little slip of paper. I happily wrote down my name, birthday, and email address.
Whoever keyed in the information wrote down “Paula.” Lovely name of course, but not my name.
I would get one or two emails a week announcing the specials they were doing. At first, I kind of chuckled. (Paul and Paula were a singing duo.)
On my birthday they would send me a coupon for a free appetizer. “Happy birthday, PAULA!” it would say. One birthday I handed the print-out to get my free empanadas. The waitress said, “This says Paula.” I said, “Yes, it does.” She shrugged.
Some people are very serious about their names. Although it wasn’t a big deal to me, it could really be off-putting to some. Perhaps worse than this is when the person putting in the name misses completely. This has happened to me, too.
With personalization becoming more commonplace, make sure you cross all the t’s and dot all of the i’s. I get quite a few emails that say “Dear FIRST NAME HERE.” It reflects poorly on a brand. It says that you’re careless and missed a step or forgot to run a merge.
So, if you’re going to collect someone’s name, try to make sure all of your information is accurate.
“Get me out of here!” – No way to unsubscribe
You signed up for an email newsletter (even worse if you never signed up!) and soon you realize this isn’t the content for you. Only thing is, where’s that unsubscribe button? Help! They keep emailing you and it appears you’re stuck without a way to get off the list.
This isn’t only annoying, it’s a violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act. The act states that it should be easy to unsubscribe from receiving emails. Furthermore, when you send your campaigns without an easy way to unsubscribe, you’re behaving like a spammer does.
Guess what can happen next? Many will simply mark you as spam. And you can’t blame those people. You’re making it hard for them and you could be the one to ultimately pay the price.
When people mark you as spam, it decreases your sender reputation. Email service providers look at a sender’s reputation to determine who is legit and who is a spammer. If your score is low, you run the risk of many of the people who really want to get your emails never seeing them.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” – Emailing only to sell
I remember going into this kind of fancy clothing store and I had one foot in the door and the clerk asked “Are you looking for something in particular? Just looking?” It made me feel like this would be a place with some very aggressive, pushy sales tactics. It was off-putting. A “hello” would have been nice.
This can be true with your emails as well. Of course, you have to sell things in order to stay in business. However, it doesn’t have to always be “Sell! Sell! Sell!” You go to the grocery store to buy, but it’s always nice if there’s a bit of camaraderie.
You can look at your list the same way. Give your readers information that is helpful or even just plain entertaining. It doesn’t have to always be an advertisement. Always remember that there is a person at the other end of the email.
When I get a feeling that there’s no warmth or humanity in an email, it decreases my interest in it. You don’t have to look at the people on your list and always see dollar signs. Could you possibly imagine them as your friends? It may help.
“Was it something I said?” – Emailing and then disappearing
There’s another thing email marketers do that aggravates me out. They quietly slip out the back door never to be heard from again.
I was on the email list of an author who has written some really great books. He was sending out great newsletters every month. The tone of his emails made me feel like he was talking to me on a porch with a nice cup of coffee.
I always felt a little dopamine hit when I saw one of his newsletters waiting for me in the inbox. It was almost like looking at a cookie behind the glass at a bakery. But then at a certain point, these warm and interesting emails stopped coming in. Was it something I said?
My engagement was there, I was opening and reading the emails. In fact, I was even forwarding some of them to like-minded people. So what happened?
Eventually, I forgot about the newsletter. That is until the author had a new book about to be published. It was more than a year later.
Here’s the thing about email marketing: you have to be consistent. Not only does disappearing make you seem like a flake, but it can also hurt your sender reputation.
First, internet service providers support a steady sender. The more predictable you are in your sending behavior, the better your inbox placement.
What’s more, by sending emails regularly, not only do you continue to nurture your subscribers, but also, you’re more in tune with your email hygiene.
People’s email addresses change from time to time. Someone gets rid of an old email address to get one that seems more professional or they change employers. Their old emails become invalid. When you send to invalid email addresses they bounce back, and those bounces can ruin your email deliverability.
Also, when you don’t send any emails for a long period of time, only to suddenly reappear in people’s inboxes, you also risk getting spam complaints. Again, inboxes are crowded these days. You may think people will remember you, but many of them may not.
A few final tips
Whatever the theme or tone of your emails, as you can see, consistency is a theme. Send great emails regularly and at the right frequency. The time between emails largely depends on your audience and brand. Don’t send too often, but don’t disappear for two months either.
Also, a good rule of thumb is to interact with your readers the way you would a person you encounter face to face. This means politeness and not always being the one who takes. It can’t be a constant attempt to make a sale.
Clean your email list
Just as you wouldn’t walk into an empty room and start having a conversation, you should make sure you’re reaching real people with your emails, too.
Every email list starts to decline over time. There are low-quality addresses that find their way on your list (disposables, catch-alls, role-based, and spam traps). Oh, and by the way, have you ever changed your email address? Well, guess what? A lot of other people have for one reason or another. When those old addresses get abandoned or deactivated, you’ll get bounces. This will cause a decline in the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Remember the author’s email newsletter that arrived faithfully, but then stopped coming? When you don’t practice good email hygiene, your emails may stop arriving in people’s inboxes – even if you’re still sending them.
That’s why you need to use an email validator to ensure that your list stays in great shape. You work hard on your email campaigns. It’s a lot of effort, time, and thought. Don’t let your efforts go to waste. Then YOU would be annoyed.