Breaking bad: Top 3 terrible email habits


If you asked digital executives today what was the one activity that they credited with a majority of their day-to-day commercial success, 90% would tell you ’email’ without missing a beat.

But if asked most of these guys whether they were happy with their email, whether they thought it was a real center of excellence for them, you might start getting some mumblings: “Our customers keep unsubscribing, our conversion rates are going down, I’m not really sure if we’re doing the best we can.”

Email is the lifeblood of customer communications today, and the majority of digital groups that I’ve seen are suffering from a cancer of email. A slow degrade away from quality communications, away from excellence in marketing, and away from their fans. Cancer. And if there’s anything we’ve learned about the cure for cancer from TV, its that you have to Break Bad. (Was that too much of a stretch?)

So next time you hear a digital exec offer you the excuses below, or the next time you hear yourself saying them – think about how you can break away from these, or more simply, what Walter White would do.

Excuse #3: “We have to tell them everything” 

Pour acid on the desk. I hear some variant of this whenever I find myself criticizing an email campaign that is full of text – 500 words of dense gibberish. Remember the last time you got one of these? Probably not, you marked these companies as spam a long time ago.

The goal of the email is not to tell the entire story, nor is it to close the sale. It’s about sharing a glimpse into life at your company, a peek at a cool product, a hint of a story. The email is an invitation to join the conversation, to learn more, to belong. How can you get that subtlety across if all you’re saying is BUYMYPRODUCT BUYMYPRODUCT BUYMYPRODUCT ?

Excuse #2: “We understand the customer, we don’t need to see data”

Set something on fire. What this digital exec really said is that they are so terrified of reality, they are clutching to their hopes (read: Hope is not a marketing plan) and probably to their job. Whenever I hear this, I know its time to start sending the resumes of actually competent people to this guy’s boss.

Excuse #1: “This is how we’ve always done it”

Throw a chair through a window. This is what you’ve always done, and you continue to get mediocre results. Keeping the same tactics is going to keep those mediocre results, or worse.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – misquote of Einstein

If what you are doing is failing, try something, anything, different. It just might surprise you.