How Not To Use Email Marketing

I received an atrocious email this week, one that epitomizes what bad email marketing is all about.  I’m going to make some generalizations here, but more often than not, the sender will fall into one of these buckets:

  • Management heard email marketing is cheap, but it’s not important enough to dedicate any real money or resource
  • The wrong person gets tasked with email
  • No knowledge of what good communications should look like
  • Little regard for CAN-SPAM, not to mention best practices
  • Many mistakes and typos

On behalf of the email industry, I apologize for the following email, sent by Toyota of Irving


Where to start?  Let’s look at the  obvious:

  1. The subject line has a typo.
  2. Who is Sam Scarlett?  How about From:  Toyota of Irving instead?
  3. The email is just one big image.  Images are turned off by default in most email clients, so I see a broken image.
  4. There are no links, so there’s no way to visit the site.
  5. Where do I unsubscribe?
  6. There’s no CAN-SPAM required information, so it is not only bad, but a violation of the law.
  7. Obviously, there’s no QA going on here.

Here is what Toyota of Irving intended for us to see:


Toyota of Irving, this is who you are, how you present yourself to the world.  Why would I do business with a company like this?  Will you lose my warranty?  Should I trust you to fix my car?  I think I’ll be moving on.  That’s the impression you are giving to soon to be ex-customers.

There’s a real opportunity here.  I am picking on this particular company, but there are certainly other examples.  You don’t have to spend millions of dollars to see real return from your email marketing program.  Understanding the law, the rules, and some solid and readily available best practices information goes a long way.  There are several great companies that offer fairly inexpensive services for beginning senders.  If you don’t have the proper technical resource, consider choosing a service with stock templates.  You wouldn’t let a receptionist change the brakes on a car.  You wouldn’t let a sales person overhaul a transmission.  Why turn someone with no email marketing training loose on your customers?

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