Email marketing is a subject that I have covered a lot in the past. However, my words of wisdom appear to have fallen on deaf ears. 

Over the past few weeks, I have received a barrage of terrible emails from companies I’ve never heard of before. Apart from that being a clear breach of GDPR, it’s incredibly annoying. 

On top of that, they are terrible. Even if I were open to whatever they were selling, the way they’ve gone about, it would make sure they weren’t on my shortlist for a service provider.

It’s that frustration that’s led me to pull this article together. Drawing on past blogs posts, I want to talk about what you’re doing wrong and the etiquette you should be following. 

Email marketing is easy to get wrong

It’s time to let the world know your company exists.

What better way to do that than by email marketing?

In a few minutes, your sales email is ready and waiting to be unleashed on the world. You click send and stand back, preparing yourself for when the phones start ringing.

Hold on a minute; you’re going about it all wrong.

The list

For starters, if you’ve bought a list, you’re heading nowhere fast.

Think about it for a moment. 

You’re about to send an email selling your products and services to a bunch of people who have never heard of you, and who haven’t asked you to get in touch.

That’s a big problem.

If you’re not sure why let me ask you something – what do you do when you sift through your emails in the morning? 

What happens when you come across one from a company you’ve never heard of before that’s trying to sell you something you haven’t asked for?

You delete it, right?

So why do you think the recipients of your email are going to do anything different? 

That’s why buying in a list is never going to work.

Building your opt-in listis a much better idea. For starters, the people on it would have heard of you and, secondly, they have given you their email because they are interested in what you have to offer, so your email is going to be relevant to them. 

Yes, it takes time to build a list, but use every opportunity to get people to sign up: at trade fairs, during phone enquiries, when people visit your shop or showroom.

Your message

What is your email saying?

Is it telling them about your products and services?

Does it have a call to action directing them to your website or your phone ordering line? 

Is it asking them to buy from you?

Stop right there. You’ve just committed the second most deadly email marketing sin. 

The chances are, you’re fairly early on in your relationship with your email marketing list. If you dive in asking them to buy from you, you’re likely to be met with a lukewarm-bordering-on-frosty reception.


You’re asking them to buy without having gained their trust first. 

You’re a new company to them (potentially a new supplier), so it’s crucial you spend time introducing yourself to them and offering them great information that will be of benefit to them.

Over time, they will get to recognise that your emails are packed with great insights, tips and hints and general warm and fuzziness. 

The advice you offer them (completely free of charge) reflects well on you, making you the go-to authority in your field.

Therefore, when they are ready to buy, whom do you think they’ll get in touch with first? 

  • The company that bombards them with sales or emails? 
  • Or, you who’s been putting their needs first, giving them great information and advice without wanting anything in return?

I know who I’d put my money on. 

Yes, you can include any offers or new products/service in your email, but make sure you also offer them useful information and advice first. The reference to your products should almost be an afterthought. 

Think like a customer

The best way to gauge how your email will be received is to think like a customer.

If it landed in your inbox, what would you do? 

Think about how it would come across to someone who doesn’t know your company that well – is it too salesy, too pushy?

Email marketing, although a fast way to reach thousands of customers in one hit, isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ marketing solution. 

It’s all about building trusting relationships with your list. 

Email marketing etiquette

Understanding email marketing etiquette is essential.   

I’m not just talking about headline crafting, personalised copy or conversational style, but probably something that’s even more important than that if you want to protect your reputation. 

What I’m getting at is complying with the regulations that go along with email marketing campaigns. 

To stay in line with GDPR, you can only send unsolicited emails to someone if they have given you their permission, or if you can apply the ‘soft opt-in’. This is valid if:

Then, when sending your emails, you must tell the recipient who you are and provide valid contact details.

Failure to comply with any of these regulations will not only see you being classed as a spammer; you could also be fined up to £5000.

Respect opt-out requests

As mentioned above, all your emails must have an opt-out link or button, so when the recipient has had enough of your emails, they can quickly stop them.  

It is vital that you respect their wishes.

I receive many newsletters and emails from companies that I do business with, or that I have been interested in at one time or another. 

There are two in particular that are driving me mad at the moment. 

A few months ago, I decided to opt-out of their emails because they were no longer relevant to me.  

Both, within about four months, started sending me emails again, even though opting out showed that I no longer wanted to receive their communications. 

Not only is this incredibly frustrating, but it also shows a complete lack of regard for my wishes.

Yes, it hurts when you lose people from your marketing list, but is it worth getting the reputation of a spammer? I think not. 

That’s why I’m writing this post. 

When someone opts out, that’s it. Don’t resurrect their subscription further down the line without their permission because they won’t thank you for it. 

Email marketing good practice

So, what does good practice in email marketing look like?

If you follow these guidelines, you won’t go too far wrong.

  • Always use opt-in-based marketing 
  • Tell your subscriber what they can expect to receive from you when you collect their details
  • Clearly explain how you will use their details
  • Do not use pre-ticked consent boxes
  • Offer a simple and quick opt-out method
  • Promptly comply with opt-out requests
  • Deal with complaints and unwanted marketing quickly and effectively

Every communication from your company affects your reputation. Make sure you comply with the wishes of your audience and don’t become a spammer. 

Get your email marketing right by calling international freelance copywriter, Sally Ormond, on +44(0) 1449 779605.