3 things people hate most about email

McKenzie Gregory


Email may be marketing’s most effective channel, but that doesn’t mean you can just blindly hit “send” and expect magic to happen.

When you hear “bad email marketing,” it isn’t difficult to conjure up an image of what it looks like: A spammy subject line like “WORK FROM HOME, EARN $$,” a two-three sentence description riddled with grammatical errors, and no CTA to be found. But bad email can be a much subtler beast.

To help eradicate bad email once and for all, here are three things people hate most about email – and what you can do to make sure yours doesn’t fit the bill.



“I get WAY too many!"

This is a mistake we see all too often: Consumers find themselves sifting through (or ignoring) an endless pile of emails every morning, even though they aren’t subscribed to that many lists. The culprit? Overzealous send frequency.

As someone who is subscribed to an unusually large amount of email lists, I’ve encountered the worst of the worst. Some brands are sending two, three… even FOUR times a day (not naming any names here, but seriously guys – stop). Why on earth would you think your audience would want to hear from you that often?

Unless you’re in a highly specific situation – emailing event attendees during the event, for instance – there’s absolutely no reason your audience needs to hear from you that often. An email isn’t a tweet that gets lost in your feed if you don’t see it right away, so tone it down. Sending to your audience a couple times a week at most will do the trick, and your emails will become a delightful surprise rather than a chore to delete them all.



“They have nothing to do with my interests.”

One of the most common (and costly) email marketing sins is blasting your audience with irrelevant content. It’s a surefire way to get your messages deleted, or worse, make people unsubscribe from your list altogether.

Here’s the thing: If you’re using an email service provider, you have the data you need to send relevant email. Even if you aren’t capturing demographic data (like age, gender, location, etc.) or tracking activity (making purchases, attending events), you at least can see which emails your recipients are opening and what they're engaging with in your campaigns. Use those valuable insights to inform your content, subject line, and design choices moving forward.

And consider putting those tools you’re paying for to work. Automation, segmentation, and dynamic content will help you create a more personalized, targeted email strategy. It takes a little extra effort, but it will be totally worth it when you see the results.



“They’re impossible to read on my phone.”

Designing a well-formatted email isn’t like writing a Word document, nor is it even like creating a web page.

The fact that different email clients can render the same message very differently creates complexities that can heavily affect the success of a campaign. Add in the complication of mobile vs. desktop (53% of email is now read on mobile, making it an almost 50/50 split), and you’ll understand why so many emails arrive in the inbox with rendering issues.

But the fact of the matter is that recipients aren’t very forgiving – if your text is too small to read on their phone, or you include text links that are impossible to tap, or if you send an email that’s entirely comprised of images and they have image blocking turned on, they’ll hit “delete” without a second thought.

So keep where your audience is opening just as top-of-mind as any other data point. To ensure your campaigns look good in every client, we recommend using Litmus Instant Inbox Previews. But regardless of which tools you use, here are a few best practices to keep in mind when designing for the mobile inbox.



What are other common pain points you hear about email? Fire away below, and we’ll do our best to help you solve them!


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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