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The 10 Best Ways to Annoy Your Email Subscribers

Do you know that one annoying guy at work who’s always interrupting people during meetings, constantly talks about himself, and keeps on making rookie mistakes?

You don’t want to be that guy. But let’s face the music. There are a lot of people out there who find certain types of email marketing to be just as annoying. (We know. It’s crazy. But it’s true.)

If your email strategy comes across like the annoying coworker everyone avoids, subscribers will tune out, opt-out, or maybe even mark your messages as spam.

The most commonly cited reason for unsubscribing from an email list is “getting too many emails in general.” But that answer was given by just 26% of respondents in a MarketingSherpa study. There are a lot of other effective ways to annoy your subscribers.

In email marketing, you need to attract attention. But you don’t want to get attention by annoying people so much that they want to hurl their computers or smartphones through the window.

Or maybe you do… If that’s the case, have we got a blog post for you!

Here are ten ways to use email marketing to annoy your subscribers:

Jump directly to an email annoyance

  1. Batch and blast them into oblivion
  2. Send them to 404 pages
  3. Accidentally curse at them
  4. Make your emails impossible to read
  5. Land in the spam folder
  6. Write clickbaity subject lines
  7. Fail at email personalization
  8. Make it tricky to unsubscribe
  9. Send too many "oops" emails
  10. Forget to test your emails

1. Batch and blast them into oblivion

Guess what MarketingSherpa found to be the second-most cited reason for unsubscribing? Irrelevant emails prompted 21% of respondents to say so-long to a brand’s marketing messages. And, an effective way to send irrelevant emails is to deliver the same message to everyone on your list.

Simply blasting every contact with identical offers, discounts, and content is old-school thinking. It will only resonate with a subset of your audience, and it will annoy or turn off the rest of them. 

Segmentation and email personalization are essential if you want to stay relevant and be useful to the majority of your subscribers, with every email.

2. Send them to 404 pages

While brands have taken to creating light-hearted 404 error pages with a sprinkle of humor, there’s nothing funny about clicking a CTA button only to find it was a broken link.

Your expertly written, beautifully designed email convinced people to click. They have high expectations for what’s to come. And then? What a letdown. And what a perfect way to annoy email subscribers.

This one is so easy to avoid. Just do a quick pre-send validation of all your links using Email on Acid’s URL Validation tool. The importance of this cannot be overstated. For example, you could have automated emails and templates with outdated URLs. 

Web content gets moved. Products get discontinued. New websites get launched. Any of these things could cause broken links in emails. Validate your links unless you want your emails to be annoying. 

3. Accidentally curse at them

When a toddler mispronounces a word and accidentally swears, it’s hilarious. When an unintended curse word shows up in an email campaign, at least some of your subscribers are going to be annoyed.

A run-of-the-mill typo is one thing. And colorful language might work for some brands. But accidentally including offensive words in your copy or email subject line is likely to spell disaster.

Sometimes, this can even happen because of how a subject line is awkwardly cut off on mobile devices. Or it could be that you were writing about shirts and the “R” button on your keyboard stopped working.

If you really want to annoy subscribers, throw in some unnecessary F-bombs. But if you’d rather avoid accidental swearing, don’t leave all the proofreading up to a frazzled editor on their third energy drink of the night. 

Email on Acid’s platform has a profanity filter built into the Spell Check feature, Plus, you can use the Inbox Display optimization feature to preview how your subject line and preheader text will look.

4. Make your emails impossible to read 

Your subscribers shouldn’t need special decoder glasses their kids found in restaurant meal kits just to read your emails.

But poor color contrast, fonts that are too small, and other graphic design crimes against humanity can make it very hard to read your emails – especially for people who have visual impairments. 

And in case you’re wondering, the CDC says that’s tens of millions of people just in the US. Vision impairment isn’t just about blindness or trifocals. It also includes things like color blindness, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

You can test your email’s accessibility for visual and other impairments before sending it out using our email accessibility tool

And for a deep dive, learn how to conduct an email accessibility audit. You can also explore some accessibility data in this white paper featuring accessibility tips, best practices, and survey data on what other email marketers are doing.

5. Land in the spam folder

Some emails are super important. We’re not talking about your mom’s passive-aggressive invitation to Mother’s Day brunch (although you shouldn't ignore that either). The delivery of transactional emails, such as order confirmations and password resets, should always land in the inbox – not the spam folder.

You shouldn’t have to tell your subscribers to check their spam folder for any of your emails. And people shouldn’t have to search through spam to find legitimate emails. That’s super annoying.

Email deliverability is a tougher nut to crack than some of the others on this list because it’s hard to improve it overnight. To get you started, here are seven common causes of email deliverability problems, and five ways to improve

For a reliable solution that ensures delivery of transactional emails, check out Sinch Mailgun.

6. Write clickbaity subject lines

It’s usually headlines that get all the bad press for being “clickbaity.” But subject lines act in much the same way. And you won’t believe what happened next! (Or, maybe you will)

What happens after a subscriber sees your sensational subject line and opens the email only to be completely underwhelmed? They get annoyed. That’s what happens.

A clickbaity subject is all fluff with no substance to back it up. If you’re going to use urgency or curiosity in a subject line, it has to be justified. If you make a big promise, like “you don’t want to miss this,” you better deliver an email with content most people will be glad they saw.

You can’t abuse those kinds of subject lines. Use them too often, and you’ll become like a clanging gong – tuned out, ignored, and eventually unsubscribed.

Get tips on writing the perfect email subject line from Sinch Mailjet.

7. Fail at email personalization

So you’re trying to personalize your emails? That’s good. But have you ever sent (or received) an email very thoughtfully addressed to “[firstname]”? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, for sure. But even that's not as bad as using the wrong name, mistaking a female subscriber for a male, or recommending products the subscriber hates.

You can also fail at personalization by doing things like sending an email campaign to “loyal customers,” including subscribers who have never made a purchase. 

It’s easy to make mistakes, especially when working with tons of subscriber data. Be sure you’re using accurate information about your subscribers when you attempt to send personalized emails.

Find out more about how to use the power of email personalization without being annoying.

8. Make it tricky to unsubscribe

Unsubscribing shouldn’t be like playing whack-a-mole, where the button jumps away each time right before you click on it. (Okay, no one probably does anything quite that bad.)

But plenty of companies do send out emails with super-tiny unsubscribe links. Or, they use a very light gray font that’s hard to find. Sometimes the link is there but then goes to an incorrect or non-functioning page, or requires so many steps that the subscriber starts to suspect the legitimacy of the company. 

This is all very bad, and it can get you in big trouble with anti-spam laws, especially if you have no unsubscribe link at all. 

Playing hide and seek with your unsubscribe link is a great way to get marked as spam, which does harm to your sender reputation and deliverability. It’s better just to let people visit your unsubscribe page when they’re ready to go.

9. Send too many “oops” emails

Yes, we all make mistakes. Sometimes an email goes out with incorrect dates and times, or with the wrong link.  

When you make mistakes like that, it’s best (and often necessary) to own up to it and send out a correction as soon as possible. People are understanding. But just keep it up if you really want them to get annoyed at your emails.

After a few “oops” emails, your subscribers will get the idea that you don’t pay that much attention to what you’re doing. That makes them question the quality of your services and products, too. Which is probably not what you want to happen. 

If you’re like most email marketers, and you’d prefer to avoid sending any more “oops” emails, please ignore #10 on our list.

10. Forget to test and preview your emails

A lot can go wrong when you’re preparing to launch an email campaign. It gets even tougher on large email teams when mistakes could be even more likely to happen.

If you’re in a hurry to send out an annoying marketing email, the best thing you can do is neglect to test and preview the campaign. That way, you’re more likely to have multiple annoyances.

On the other hand, if you want your emails to be as close to perfect as possible, Email on Acid can help. Our platform’s Campaign Pre-check tool is an automated pre-send workflow that lets you optimize accessibility, deliverability, inbox display, and more. Then, you can preview your emails on dozens of the most-used email clients and popular devices.

Email on Acid has benefits for the entire email team. You can even take advantage of team management features for better communication and collaboration during the email QA process.

Okay. We’re almost done annoying you with our product pitch. Just one last thing…

Avoid Making These Mistakes

At Sinch Email on Acid, testing is at the core of our mission. After you’ve finished setting up your email campaign design, make sure the email looks good in every inbox. Sinch Email on Acid helps you test your email across more than 100 popular clients and devices. Try us for free for seven days – make sure your email gets delivered and look good doing it!

Start Testing Today