5 Signs Your Emails Suck (And What to Do about It)

by Thaddeus Gerber | 4 MIN READ


You’ve just created an amazing email campaign, using all your awesome Jedi marketing powers, and now you’re ready to roll. This time, you’re telling yourself – it’ll be different from that last email that, uh...didn't do so well.

Just hold on a hot second because I gotta ask you a question (and it’s a toughie).

Do your emails suck?

Do they just fall into an abyss, repelling coveted customers and shooting stale blanks when it comes to your inbound marketing success?

If you’re doing any of the five things below then you’re dealing your email marketing ROI the kiss of death. Fortunately, I've included some tips on how you can fix them as well.

1. You’re sending cookie-cutter emails

You think you’ve just put together a beauty of an email newsletter, so you can’t understand why no one’s even opening.

They think – Great. Yet another junk email that has nothing relevant to me or what I want. Why bother?

In short – you gotta customize, baby! People don’t just want to see sparkly, shiny content – they want sparkly, shiny content that speaks to them.

That means making the effort to get to know the people you’re targeting and finding out what makes them tick. This applies to visuals as well.

2. Your subject lines suck

Do you know how many gazillion emails are winging their way around the old interwebs every day?

And how many of them are stuck in that same, spammy old model of “free ABC!” or “Act now!” Basically, those spammy words are the biggest turn-offs ever. If you wanted to guarantee that customers will ignore your emails, that’s what you want to put in your subject line.

Make it clear – what is it actually about?

Make it actionable – you want them to take the next step, so tell them what it is.

Also – avoid all caps and exclamation marks. Seriously.

3. You’re making dumb mistakes

It does not take much to proofread a newsletter before it goes out. So why is it that so many of you guys think it’s a step you can skip?

Think of your email like that first date. First impressions count!

You don’t want spinach in your teeth, or ‘birds nest’ hair (most of us anyway). You’re going to fix those little things, right? Same goes for your emails. "Little" errors, like the odd typo, bad grammar, or the unholy of all unholies - incorrect facts – make you look really bad.

Why would anyone want to go on another date with you after that? Fix them.

4. You’re blabbing on

When it comes to email marketing, it's almost better to keep your content short and sweet.

No, really.

It’s proven that the longer the subject line and content length, the lower the click-through rate.

5. No one’s home

Are you using that same old stale email list you first got your hands on...a year ago?

Yeah. Chances are, people might have moved on. Keep your list fresh. If subscribers haven’t responded to an email in more than six months, you want to cut them loose.

Nothing kills your open rates faster than stale subscribers, so purge that list and dominate those inboxes!

You can't slay the inbox without knowing who your buyer personas are!

Download the Persona Creation Guide

Originally published December 11, 2014. Updated November 20, 2017.