14 Email Marketing Campaign Pet Peeves

Have you ever received an email marketing campaign that’s really got your goat? How about receiving an email that you know you didn’t sign up for? Or perhaps you did sign up, but when the email arrives it contains nothing you thought it would?

As so many people receive and send emails, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who hadn’t gotten annoyed at their email inbox at some stage or another.

As email marketers, one of the main things to continually have in mind is the customer. You should always put yourselves in their shoes. To make sure that the customer is always at the front of your mind, we’ve compiled this list of the top 14 email marketing pet peeves, to ensure your email marketing campaigns are loved by all contacts.

1. Making unsubscribing an Olympic sport

You may be sending the most stunning email marketing campaigns in the world, but someone somewhere will want to unsubscribe from your campaigns. And if they want to, you shouldn’t hold them to ransom. In accordance with the law, you should include an Unsubscribe link in all of your marketing campaigns. The link should be obvious, and written in clear language. If your contact wants to unsubscribe, they will find a way.

2. Not honouring unsubscribes

When you’ve chosen to unsubscribe from an email marketing campaign, it should be easy. So why do you see messages that state – ‘It may take up to 10 days to remove you from our list’? Your ESP should quickly and easily unsubscribe contacts from your database, but if you’re doing it manually, make this this top of your priorities list.

3. Writing a vague subject line

The subject line should entice contacts to open your email, and should not be misleading. The subject line is often used as a catchy, quirky hook line, but what email users are looking for is something relevant to them. If the subject line gives no indication of the email’s relevance, then your contact will drag it across to the trash can.

4. Not stating how we know each other

If you’re anything like me, you sign up for tonnes of email newsletters in the hope of seeing something wonderful arrive in your inbox. When sending an email to new contacts make sure they know who you are, and why they are being contacted. Use a recognisable sender name, and open the email with an introductory paragraph to prevent deletions and unsubscribes.

5. Providing irrelevant content

The content of the email should be something that the contact wants to receive. If you’ve spent time analysing your leads, segmenting them by behaviour, and aiming you content at the correct people then you won’t have a problem. But if you’ve done none of the above, then your contact probably doesn’t want to receive that content. Take time to learn about your contacts, and send content based on their needs.

6. Bombarding your poor contacts

Find the optimum frequency for your email sends can take time, and is always a bit of learning curve for each company, but one thing you should not do is bombard contacts with the same email over and over again. Hello spam complaints. There’s no harm in sending the same content to contacts if they haven’t opened the original mail, but you’ll need to change the subject line, and the email creative to re-engage them.

7. Sending emails too infrequently

Your contacts must be continually touched if you want them to remember who you are. In the same way that bombarding your contacts can infuriate them, so can forgetting about them. If you only send an email newsletter once in a blue moon, you aren’t exactly showing the contact that you care about them. Create a schedule and stick to it.

8. Including broken content

This could be broke dynamic content, broken links, massive images that won’t download, or a video that just won’t play. Whatever it is, broken content can damage your brand, and your relationship with the contact. Sending emails with broken dynamic is a big no no. ‘Hello @FIRSTNAME@’ – thanks for your concern email sender; you clearly don’t care about me.

9. Not including a call to action

Wow. This is one of my big pet peeves. Your subject line has enticed me, your copy is great, I want to try your product – how do I get onto your landing page!? What do I do next?! The more work you make your contact do, they more likely they are to delete your email or unsubscribe.

10. Sending emails that aren’t optimised for mobile

Over 40% of email users use a mobile device to read their emails. So why aren’t your emails optimised? If you’re sending emails that are too wide, don’t render quickly enough, or have teeny tiny call to actions, then you won’t see a purchase from me, my friend.

11. Over the top emails

Yes, we love beautiful email templates but there is such a thing as an over the top email. If the meaning of the email is lost, if the design is too overwhelming, or if the message is lost, it will switch your contacts off. Remember to KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.

12. Emails not optimised for both plain text and HTML

If you have designed a lovely HTML template, remember to consider your plain text readers. Not everyone will download the HTML images but all of your contacts should still be able to understand the message.

13. Sending emails with spelling mistakes

We’re all human, and spelling and grammatical mistakes will occur, but remember to proof read your emails before sending. Forward the email to colleague who has not been a part of the creation process – a fresh pair of eyes can really help.

14. Not including a real address for contacts to reply to

Email marketing is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Your contacts may wish to speak to you, or ask you questions regarding the campaign, so why are you including a Do Not Reply email address? Make sure the reply address is real, and monitored so that any contacts who reply to the campaign are looked after.


Is there anything else about email marketing that grinds your gears? Let me know below, or tweet us @Wired_Marketing and we can rant about them together.


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