Six Overused Email Marketing Tactics That Surprisingly Still Work


It’s 2012, and despite the 143,000 results from last year in Google search with some variation of the title “email is dead,” it in fact is still going strong. Email marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither are some of these sneaky, deceptive, and sometimes outright evil email marketing tactics.

A guest post by Kristi Hines.


1. Opt-ing In Subscribers Without Their Consent.

Please remember that an opt-in from a subscriber is when they enter their name and email address in a form on your website that specifically states they want to receive your newsletter or sign up for your mailing list. The double confirmation should be from an email confirming that, by clicking this link, they are agreeing that they want to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list.


Opt-ins are NOT when someone…


  • Connects with you on LinkedIn.

I *love* it when I unsubscribe from a mailing list that I don’t remember opting in to and find that the email list is named “LinkedIn Contacts” or something similar. While you can export email lists from LinkedIn, they didn’t give you the option to do so just so you can add them to your mailing list.


  • Buys a product off of your website.

If you want to sneak someone into opting in to your mailing list when they purchase a product, at least be courteous enough to give the buyer a chance to opt-out by including a check box in the order form that they can choose to deselect that states they will also be signing up for your mailing list.

Just because I buy one thing from you doesn’t mean I will want to do so again.


  • Someone simply emails you.

Probably the saddest / funniest unwanted newsletter I found myself subscribed to was one from a company which I had applied to work for, but was not picked for the job.    Although their job listing had stated they were looking for people anywhere in the United States who could work from home, the job ended up going to someone local.  How do I know this? Because the first newsletter I received from them was the announcement of their new hire for the position I had applied for. I not only unsubscribed, but I marked it as spam.

The point – don’t just add anyone in your email address book to your newsletter!


2. Oops, I did it again!

No, I don’t mean the Britney Spears song. I mean the mailings where you get one announcement for a new product, webinar, service, affiliate offer, etc. and then you get another email anywhere from five minutes to an hour later saying “Oops, I forgot the ____.”  Then insert link, time, details, or other applicable information in the blank.

When I received the first email like that, I actually felt bad for the person. I obsessively check over my mailing list emails before I send them out. Then I received another similar “Oops, I forgot…” email from someone else. After I received about five in one month, I realized that either someone must have done a blog post or course recently on the power of having an excuse to email someone not once, but twice in rapid succession.


3. Hey Kristi! How are you? 🙂

It may be silly, but it warms my heart when I feel like someone is taking the time to send me a personal email. But that warmth quickly fades when I see that the email is sent via or when I see the mailing address at the bottom of the email that certifies that this email is not personal – it is just personalized by the mailing list service.

It’s probably the tactic that works best on me, and I’m sure others. I know that many marketers don’t have the time to individually email their subscribers. And I know that personalization is a good thing. But let’s not take that tactic too far into trying to make someone believe that you really want to be friends and start a personal conversation when you don’t.


4. No specific details.

“I just found this great new product that will make you oodles of money on autopilot.  You can make millions and gazillions of dollars in your sleep! Don’t miss out! (Insert link here.)”

What is the name of this new product? Who is it by? Why does the link end in nzf2d?  How will I be making these gazillions of dollars? Yes, I realize the point to this is to make someone curious enough that they feel compelled to click on the link. But for those who have a slight paranoia of unidentifiable links, it makes us a lot less interested in clicking and more interested in unsubscribing.



5. Three countdown emails in one day.

24 hours left… 12 hours left… 1 hour left! Creating a sense of urgency is one thing, but flooding urgency into my inbox is another. This one came from a new list I had opted in to for a course, so that day I received the three countdown emails and an email from the autoresponder course. Not a good way to make a first impression on a new subscriber that wasn’t interested in whatever affiliate product this list builder was pushing that day.


6. List swapping.

When I subscribe to a mailing list from you, I want emails and product recommendations from you. In 2011, I noticed a trend from some mailing lists I was subscribed to where people were doing list swaps. They were quite obvious as the links in those emails began with the domain of a service where you could send out an email for someone else, and they in return would send out an email to you.

I know that list swapping is a common way to get exposure. But can you at least make it from other people you trust and not just some service that allows you to pick any Joe Schmo’s advertisement and send it to your list? List building should be about trust, and I cannot trust someone who doesn’t even look at the offers they have sent to their list in trade.


Now it’s your turn. What are your least favorite email marketing tactics that still get you to open emails?


Image Credit: Ema Studios

Author Bio: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast who enjoys photography, tennis, and hiking. Be sure to follow her on Twitter @kikolani.