B2B Marketing Zone

10 Things That Will Trash Your Email Marketing Program

10 Things That Will Trash Your Email Marketing Program

10 Things That Will Trash Your Email Marketing Program

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to improve his or her email marketing campaigns? ClickZ just published a charming and wise article by Sundeep Kapur, Director Strategic Marketing – Ecommerce at NCR Corporation (who blogs about email best practices as the email yogi) that’s well worth your time.

We don’t want to give the whole thing away, so we’ll just note truncated versions of the first five things on the list, and encourage you to read the rest, including the remaining five, in “10 Things That Can Destroy a Email Marketing Program.”

5 Email Marketing Problems and Solutions

  1. They do not remember who you are.
    Rx: Send the first message quickly, stay in touch, and keep reminding the recipient about your value proposition.
  2. You send them too many campaigns.
    Rx: Cap your frequency to match your consumers’ preferences, and if they do unsubscribe, offer to reduce the frequency to a minimum.
  3. Your emails are just not interesting.
    Rx: Spice it up a bit, even if you are talking about “ball bearings.” Factor in some user-generated content or questions – this is what will keep the consumer engaged.
  4. You do not stop selling.
    Rx: Mix up your messaging; the best thing might be to include useful informational content in every marketing campaign.
  5. You are not relevant.
    Rx: While it would be ideal to segment the consumer based on her preferences, keep asking the consumer if you are missing the mark and factor in her comments into your marketing campaigns.


Do you have thoughts about worst practices? All comments welcome!


Sherry is the editor of Act-On's Marketing Action blog. She also writes and edits eBooks, white papers, case studies, and miscellanea. She is an award-winning creative writer.

  • I HIGHLY agree with number 1. This is a huge problem because most people won’t even try to remember your company at all, its just easier to unsubscribe or delete the email. Remember to make a GREAT first impression and really try to enforce your branding everywhere so your company is not forgettable. Great tips!

  • Jeff

    Number 2 is a big one I think. I know I unsubscribe when I start receiving too many emails. Make sure it doesn’t get to the point where you’re spamming people. It will eventually lead to them not even opening the emails and furthermore, unsubscribing. Happens way too much. Give them a reason to stay subscribed!

  • I agree with Guedo, as far as the first 5 tips are concerned number 1 really stands out to me.

    If you aren’t authentic with your brand and haven’t built up the initial rapport the recipient has no reason to open your emails as you haven’t built up the culture of you providing value.

    Once this is established though, expect to notice much better results with your email campaigns. I’d suggest following the link to the 10 reasons blog post for other great tips.

  • Tim

    I think all 5 of these points are very good. Point 1 is important. I’ve found that putting someone into a drip campaign within 24 hours of a form fill on the website is very effective. I generally go by the 24 hour, 1, week, 3 week schedule for drip campaigns. Sometimes more condensed than that depending on the nature of the campaign. As for relevancy, again it is always best to send ONLY relevant emails. If something is questionable or marginal in relevancy, don’t send it. You want your emails to be viewed as relevant all the time, not some of the time.

  • Nik Dahlberg

    Great tips. Our company is currently dealing with an outdated lead list which puts us at great risk of #1: not being remembered. To combat this we are avoiding sales pitches altogether and are sending out the most interesting, relevant, and valuable content that we can create. Hopefully we are able to re-establish interest and turn some of these leads into sales!

  • All of my great relationships are based on personal, timely and relevant communications. Doesn’t matter if it’s in person or via email. Infrequent communications are done by people who want to “sell” you, consistent communications come from people who want to hep you “buy”. Do unto others and you would like them to do unto you:)
    Cheers, Chris

    • Mike Compeau

      Chris: Bingo. And a great CRM system [that is USED] is the key to having the information you need to make communications personal, timely, and relevant. The difficulty is, making this communication part of a campaign (with all three attributes) is far less likely. On-boarding a new customer can be accomplished through an automated ‘trickle’ campaign of communications– all relevant, timely, and ‘personal-ized’. But mastering a program of crafting outbound mass campaigns that meet these criterias is probably a bit too cumbersome each time an email needs to go out. At least it is for the businesses I’ve had my fingers in for some time.

      To keep those mass emails relevant– they need to meet some criteria for ‘informational’ / ‘educational’ / ‘entertainment’ – natured enough to be sticky in that inbox! So, great list here.

      The challenge I would make, Chris, is how do you incorporate truly personal (not personal-ized) content in a campaign-level set of communications?


  • Monica Seely

    I have a suggestion for a #6 on this list…
    6. You keep sending the same message
    Rx: When you find a winning combination of email subject and content it is easy to overuse and oversaturate your leads with the same message (or variation on it). Switch up your campaigns and cycle through them in a sensible way to avoid annoying your leads.

  • Don’t forget to add value through each subsequent interaction! Always use the 5 touch follow up system.

    • Act-On Software News

      Thanks for sharing, Shelly!

  • Dani Calvert

    I like #3 – I would like to see an article expanding on this one. It’s challenging to stand out from other companies, especially when people are already flooded with emails daily. We try to switch up our emails and send information that we think is relevant and helpful. Any tips to keep emails interesting and engage the reader would be appreciated!

  • Greg Palmer

    Like Nik above, we have struggled to find ways of dealing with an outdated contact list. This makes #1 a very big issue, which we have compensated for by following Rx to #4. Initial emails really can’t be too “salesy”–comes off as pushy. From personal experience, I immediately unsubscribe to any emails that don’t provide value and simply ask me to trial or buy something.

  • Brittany

    These are simple suggestions that can keep any email campaign strong. You want the recipient to know who you are so they know where to go when they need something. You want to provide them with interesting information that is useful to them so they keep opening your emails. These are the two most important to me. As long as they keep opening your emails, eventually they’ll do something with those emails.

  • I tend to lean towards what gets my interest will get my time. So, number 3 really resonates with how my organization is using Act-On. With an out of date lead list and poor messaging in the past it was very hard to make connections to new customers.

  • Some helpful info, but leary of numbers 1 and 2. If client or potential client unsubscribes due to too many messages, your chances of getting them back are slim, even with an offer to reduce. I don’t believe you can take that chance by sending frequent reminders of your value proposition. My experience has been that by using good content you do not need to repeat yourself that often.

  • These are good. #2 should say, ASK them how often they want to receive emails from you…and make sure they can change their preferences easily. I have a slideshare on email…just search my name – Email is Dead, Long Live Email.

  • The entire list of 10 things in Sundeep’s article are all excellent reminders to keep in mind each and every time you do your campaigns. Our biggest thing is making sure the content reflects what the customer wants, not our own perspective. It takes some testing to make this happen so #5 is especially helpful with this.

  • Kat

    All true. It has to be relevant, properly timed content that is seen as valuable not annoying. I like the idea of offering them an option as to how often and what type of content they want to hear about.

  • Lisa

    First off, ball bearings are far from uninteresting – ball bearings move everything from cars to skateboards, motorcycle steering gears to chainsaws. #1 “Stay in touch,” is the key. Proper planning and strategy can provide insight to missed opportunities during the sales process, including non-selling points, such as checking in and follow up surveys.

  • Bobby Holt

    I think staying in touch is the biggest factor. While being uninteresting certainly is a turn off, is you’re persistent with someone, without going over the line, it can be seen as someone who will work hard for your business and more over do a good job. These five points are dead on, but if you make sure you’re not annoying and provide good value it will go a long way.

    • Megan Larson

      True, but if your message isn’t relevant they will see the “persistence” as spam.

  • Joe Goehring

    Relevancy is #1 here. In retail, we collect thousands of email addresses every week but they never get opened if it’s not a coupon or something with an immediate impact on the shopper.

  • I think creating interest in the email is the most important factor (after making sure the email ends up in their inbox to begin with). You need to know what they want to hear in order to get a good response rate. A list filled with thousands of people won’t mean a thing if the message doesn’t connect. I’ve learned this through personal experience.

  • Megan Larson

    One of the biggest challenges for email marketing is creating fresh, relevant, timely data – especially in the B2B marketplace. It’s better to take extra time and reduce frequency than to send out junk.

  • In regards to points 3, 4, and 5: When our team sits down to discuss messaging, the hardest thing is combining relevancy with our solution, all the while developing a catchy and inviting call to action. Any tips on thought process or other methods in being creative, yet goal oriented?

  • Zachary Winnie

    I’d agree with #4—you need to balance out what the sales team wants to do with what your customers actually want. We do all like a good deal and good promotions, but not 5 times a week. I’d suggest coming up with a company newsletter that has no promotions in it that’s just factual and informational. The best thing would be to talk to some of your customers and find out what they want.

  • As an accounting and tax firm we often struggle with number 3. While info may be important and relevant – it may not be very interesting!

    • One thing that our company (B2B software – very dry material) is trying is drawing similarities between our product and pop culture. We might write an email about how our prospects is like a popular TV show or character. That way we can present the information in an unexpected, yet informative way.

  • disqus_zQuopug9r9

    I believe #5 is the most important. If you are not relevant, they you will not get their time to deliver your message.

  • @BESegal

    It’s key to have unique messages and offers for each customer segment. And those segments need to be based on such things as customer lifetime or near-term value and if the customer is strong and steady, getting ready to leave you or recently abandoned you.

  • B&B

    Nothing kills email response more than those that overwhelm the inbox! It comes off as a desperation.

    • Sarah

      I agree completely! That’s why we’re revamping our marketing strategy to send fewer emails with more engaging content.

  • Sarah

    I think #4 is key for any social media/direct touch endeavor. You’re trying to build a relationship, and selling to them all the time doesn’t help that. Does anybody have any great ways to avoid selling all the time?

  • I hate when email campaigns consist solely of sales pitches. The quickest way to get me to opt-out of your list is to break rule #4. Unless you are Dunkin Donuts sending me a coupon every morning, I don’t want to hear about your constant sales promotions.

  • Meloyde Blancett

    I particularly think Point #5 is valuable because it can absolutely provide incredible insight into the mind of your prospects and customers, but another important factor is that a majority of companies do not do it — and that can separate you from the pack. The biggest challenge, however, in seeking feedback is that far too often marketers try to ask for too much feedback at once, i.e. include too many questions, which causes even prospects who might otherwise respond to forgo doing it because they don’t want to commit that much time, even though its only seconds. Are there other marketers who have had significant success with their email feedback programs and if yes, how did you structure it?

  • Relevance is everything. Scanning subject lines for something that speaks to me where I am today is how I week through my inbox. It’s not spam if I’m interested in the subject matter. If I’m not interested, then it’s spam.

  • Stacy Gentile

    One could argue that unless they are contacting you…you are not relevant. Sad but maybe true.