5 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Email Campaigns and How to Fix Them
by Jordie van Rijn last updated on 0

5 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Email Campaigns and How to Fix Them

We often focus on what you should do in your email marketing. Sometimes, however, a little constructive criticism goes a long way. Let’s take a look at how you might be sabotaging your own email campaigns.

Communication gaps

Copy and design go hand in hand in any marketing channel. In email marketing, it’s especially important that your message is clear, not confusing. In this Fingerhut contest promotion, you’re automatically entered in the contest when you order. Of course, the fine print says no purchase is necessary (legally mandatory). The CTA says “SHOP NOW.” So what is Fingerhut promoting? The contest? The product? Focus your email marketing, Daniel SAN!

Maybe the CTA should have been “ENTER NOW,” taking people to a contest entry page. This would have made for a good test, to see which CTA resulted in more entries.

Campaign Fail 1

Subject lines that leave you scratching your head

This subject line from home store West Elm may bring to mind rainbows: Sunshine + raincoats.

It’s too bad that it’s so ambiguous, because the imagery is quite compelling. (Unfortunately, many subscribers probably missed it altogether since they may not have opened the email.) There’s a fine line between a teaser subject line and a “huh?” subject line. Bad teasers are reminiscent of the old bait-and-switch trick that brick-and-mortar retailers would use to get customers in the store. Mark Brownlow wrote a great article on general versus specific subject lines on smartinsights.

Campaign Fail 2


You’ve got to look at your emails from the customer’s perspective, losing that might be the number one silent conversion killer in email. A friend of mine pointed me to this example. If you’re too close to the brand/product/project, your own perspective may be skewed. Take this subject line from Loft: Cardi meet cami, from just $12. While I like the alliteration, wouldn’t you expect to see a model wearing a cardigan-topped camisole? Here’s the email:

Campaign Fail 3

The top shirt doesn’t look like a cardigan to me, and you can’t tell if the shirt underneath is a camisole. The result? Disconnect.

You also should be careful not to have a disconnect between your email and the landing pages it takes you to.

Much ado about nothing, setting high expectations

One email that comes to mind had a subject line of “Drumroll, please…” – implying a big announcement was to be made.

The big news? That the company had joined Pinterest. Big whoop. And it was a recent email, so the company was a bit behind the times, if you ask me.

You talkin’ to ME?

It may seem obvious, but make sure you’re sending the right message to the right audience. If this arrived in your inbox, would you know what PMP, PMI or PMBOK are? I didn’t think so. Even if you are the intended recipient, the sender should avoid overuse of jargon and acronyms. Remember, your emails are for people and should be written as such. The trick is to figure out what your subscribers’ content needs are and the appropriate email content buttons to push.

Email Fail 4

Actually, jargon can work even better than a regular text. As long as your subscribers know exactly what you are talking about. An example by Bryan Eisenberg comes to mind. Bryan is the guy in this article and he talks a lot about conversion and testing on his blog where he showed two Google AdWords ads for diving gear. One had a very specific diving term (I can’t remember which one exactly, I am not a diver, it is snorkelling on vacation at best). This outperformed others by a mile.

So you see, a true checklist of things to do before sending out your email should include a bit more than just testing the links and proper spelling. But a bit of common sense can surely do a great deal for your newsletter!

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