Anatomy of a bad marketing email


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failureThere must have been something in the water last week, as the volume of poorly-written and badly-executed marketing emails in my inbox was higher than usual. For example, not one but two emails began with, in the first line, an apology for taking up my time. That’s literally what they started with.

Below is an example of one email I received. I chose it as an example to break down and explain where I thought there were, uh, areas for improvement. I’ve included the full email below (replacing company-identifying content to protect the guilty), with footnotes of my comments underneath.

Subject Line: Following Up(1)

Body Copy:

Hi Matt,

I(2) just wanted to confirm that you knew about a promotion we’re running(3) to make it easy for you to give OUR PRODUCT a try.

To orient you a bit(4), OUR PRODUCT was designed for B2B marketers at small businesses. It gives you a really effective way to target display ads to prospects that have already visited your website so you can convert more of them. And right now, we are offering $100 in advertising credits(5) to all new users of OUR PRODUCT.

You can start retargeting for as little as $5/day(6) — and with the current promotion, it’s the perfect time to give it a try!

If you have any questions regarding the sign-up process, how to launch a campaign, details on cost or anything else, please reach out to me any time and I would be happy to help.


  1. Following up on what? Where’s the value or benefit to me? What outcome are you helping me achieve? Tease something that I care about in the subject line to get a better open rate. You don’t want something too long, but you clearly have space for more than two words
  2. Never start an email to a prospect with “I”. You immediately imply that the message is about what you want, not what I want.
  3. The promotion you’re running will not accelerate my interest to engage. And if you think it will, tease the benefit of the promotion up front so I keep reading.
  4. There’s something awkward about telling me I’m disoriented. It’s close enough to telling the prospect they’re wrong or dumb that it just rubs me wrong.
  5. I hate promotions that require you to buy the product first. Why not position this as a free trial vs. requiring me to buy to get the credits? Isn’t it pretty much the same thing to you?
  6. Five bucks a day might pencil out to a lot if this is truly a small business offering. Plus, there’s no context given for that $5/day investment. It may feel like a small number to the seller, but for the buyer there’s no value translation or ROI communicated here at all.
  7. No contact information.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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