Twitter points out the worst Email Marketing Tropes. Are you doing any of these?

The key to great email marketing is to be authentic, funny, and not spammy. Twitter points out the worst email mistakes.

April 3, 2023
Twitter points out the worst Email Marketing Tropes. Are you doing any of these?

I was meeting a friend from college last weekend. She asked me how life was going, what I was up to these days, yadda yadda. 

I say, with a hint of pride, I built a product that helps people send marketing emails.

“Ugh! I hate marketing emails”, she blurted out immediately.

"But, but…"

We’ve all been traumatized by the barrage of emails eCommerce brands send at some point. Almost all email marketers dread the eye roll-scoff combo.

The thing is people don’t really hate marketing emails. They hate bad marketing emails. They hate emails that neither entertain or educate or provide some kind of value.

In the wise words of one Mr. Patrick Walls:

And, all bad (read: annoying af) emails have this in common–overused tactics that people see right through. 

I went on a quest to unearth these scuzzy tropes. As any marketer worth his salt, Twitter was my first stop.

Warning: Might contain foul language. Also, they are hilarious. 

1. You left something behind

Go to any eCommerce site, add a product to your cart, and don’t complete the purchase. I’d bet there’s a 9/10 chance that you’ll receive something like this within the hour.

When you use something along these lines, your email is gonna disappear in the sea of emails. Even if they notice it, it becomes apparent that you haven’t really put any effort into your emails.

2. We need to talk

Every good email has a subject line that creates intrigue. Baiting shoppers into opening the email can have the opposite effect of what you really want. They are deceiving, at best, and make customers hate your brand with a vehement passion, at worst.

Being a little dramatic is fine as long as the punchline lands and the stakes are low for the customer.

3. Resending the same email

Okay, I’m guilty of doing this. I often resend campaigns to people who haven’t opened the first time around. So, my thoughts are biased…

As long as you use this tactic sparingly, the risk:reward ratio is decent with this one.

4. Welcome to the family

You hear it in offices, sports clubs, and marketing emails…If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say “welcome to the family”, I’d be a billionaire by now. 

Building trust, especially with internet strangers, takes time. You need a great product, exceptional customer service, and commitment to creating memorable brand experiences, to earn their trust and eagerness to read your emails.

Hitting them with a “we-are-fam” is frankly  disingenuous. I mean, it was okay back in 2010, but come on, it’s high time we let this one go.

5. Subject lines with RE: or FWD:

Imagine you got an email like this while at work: 


Only to find that it was from a fashion brand opening early access to their newest outfit collection.

Will you open it? Sure, yes.

Would you like it? Of course, not. 

This is a questionable tactic that I see a lot of brands and non-eCommerce email marketers use these days. 

The subject line misleads the subscribers and tricks them into opening the email by implying an ongoing exchange. It deliberately hides the commercial nature of the email and makes it looks like it came from a personal connection.

6. The items you viewed are selling out fast

FOMO was one of those really good tactics, but now brands have gone overboard with it, customers see right through it.

Phrases like Almost gone, About to be sold out are all a cliche now and your customers have stopped believing the ruse now. Your customers might even think that you’re manipulating them. 

Still think it’s worth it? 

7. It’s payday, come treat yourself

What you send: It's payday, come treat yourself 

What your reader sees: Now that you finally have some money, gimme some.

It’s as subtle as a sledgehammer.

Just because it's payday doesn't mean your shoppers want to blow our entire paycheck. They've got bills to pay and rent to cover, you know? Plus, it's kind of presumptuous for brands to assume that they're our go-to for splurging on payday.

But hey, at least they're being honest about what they want - our money. We'll give them that.

8. You asked and we listened

Let's be honest, no one is asking for more emails in their inbox. They're just trying to find that one important message from their boss or crush (hey, it could happen). 

And when we see "you asked and we listened," it's like, "Oh great, what did I accidentally sign up for now?"

It also implies that the brand is doing the recipient a favor by responding to their supposed request or feedback, even though the recipient may not have asked for anything at all. Unless this is super targeted, this is a no-go.

9. Not timing the cross-sell flow right

This is my personal favorite-in a negative way. The point of automated flows is to keep messages contextual and relevant. 

Cross-sell flows can be particularly tricky to time right. The customer is the most engaged when they’ve made a purchase. According to recent made up studies, the engagement decays by 50% every passing day.

Wait until the customer has had the time to try it out before teasing them with additional temptation. You wait too long, the customer no longer remembers your brand. You send it too soon, you risk annoying shoppers like Dylan. 

10. We missed you

The “We missed you” subject line is a staple in most re-engagement and win-back flows. 

Brands and marketers use it to lure back shoppers while serving a dash of guilt on the side. It seems like a hollow attempt to create a personal connection, particularly when shoppers have had little to no engagement with the brand. 

Be more direct and focused on providing value or conveying urgency without resorting to guilt or false sentimentality.

11. No thanks, I hate free stuff

Confirmshaming, also known as negative opt-out, is one of the most common pop up strategies brands employ while capturing emails. 

I saw this trend popping up when I started my career–you’d see a “I’m in” button and then a sly/snarky message that tries to guilt trip you into clicking the message (Example: No thanks, I don’t wanna help children in Africa). 

I hated it then. I hate it now.

It’s neither subtle nor cute. It’s a passive-aggressive, slimy tactic that implies your visitors are losers for not giving their email address.

Cut the shenanigans and give your site visitors an easy out.

Remember, the key to great email marketing is to be unique, authentic, funny, and most importantly, not spammy. So ditch the cliches and get creative, and maybe, just maybe, people will actually start looking forward to your emails.

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