How to Email Customers Without Making Them Hate You

email marketingWhen I receive a promotional email that I deem annoying, I do what every other normal human does – I delete it faster than you can say “pumpkin beer.”

But why do I, and countless others, do this? After all, I did sign up for this email list at some point.

So perhaps it’s not the email itself, but the content and frequency that turns so many of us into unsubscribing monsters.

To answer this conundrum of the digital age, we’re composing a two-part series on how to manage your email list – without turning every email into an instant unsubscribe.

We’ll address the best ways to email your clients, including topics, content, and frequency, as well as the best email management programs on the market.

To start off with, we’re going to look at the most important aspect of your email marketing campaign, which is the content of your messages.

What’s the point?

Before you send out your next customer email blast, ask yourself, “What’s the point?”

Why are you even sending out this email? Do you actually have something interesting to share, or is this just a chance for self-promotion? Not that self-promotion doesn’t have a time and place, but the number one rule of great email marketing is to only email if you have something important to say. Otherwise, you’re just inundating your subscribers with emails they don’t want.

The best way to test if your email is going to be well-received or not is to ask yourself how you would react to it. If you think back on the last email from a company that you read, and the last one that you instantly deleted, identify what made you act in each instance and try to apply those experiences when creating your message.

Give the People What They Want: Events & Sales

So you’ve passed the “What’s the point” test, and you’re ready to compose your email. The next step is to identify what type of email it’s going to be, and compose accordingly.

  • Event: Actual human interaction is still a thing, which makes hosting or simply promoting events a perfectly acceptable email topic. To do this properly, start with the basics: who/what/where/when/why. After that, include a description of any similar past events and why they were so incredibly amazing. And what really seals the deal with event emails are the pictures. Include 3 – 5 pictures in the email to get your audience excited about what’s to come. But don’t overdo it. No one is going to wait more than 10 seconds for images to load, and too many pictures can bog down a customer’s email inbox.
  • Sale: Who doesn’t love a good deal? Since the beginning of commerce, a good deal has proven irresistible to the human psyche, as ingrained as a cat’s sense of curiosity. Whether it’s a broad, store-wide sale or a specific overstocked item, make the sale the main focus of the email. Include it in the subject line and make it the main text of the message. Your customers should never have to search the text to understand what the deal is – it should be clear and prominent.
  • Newsletter: If this is strictly a regular newsletter, keep it to a monthly or bi-weekly basis at the most. Make it a roundup of your best new items, sales, and upcoming events. Keep it short and sweet. And if you can, include a special discount code or printable coupon that only your newsletter subscribers can use. This value will give them a reason to not unsubscribe.
  • Links: Every type of email should utilize links to draw customers back to your site. Place the links in spots where it’s easy to guess where it should take you. If you’re talking about a sale or a new item, linking the words “Click here to shop now” is simple and to the point. Similar language such as “RSVP Now” or “Check out our new items” let your customers know that this link won’t send them into an internet black hole.

Find Out If It’s Even Working

Whatever email marketing platform you’re utilizing, you should be able to view the open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates of every message. These insights can be very helpful when you’re trying to fine-tune your campaign, allowing you to test different times, see what type of message does best, and make adjustments along the way.

Track the time you send the emails, along with the day of the week, to get a sense of the best time for your business. It could be that ‘sale’ emails do very well on Saturday mornings, but ‘event’ emails are better suited for Tuesday afternoons. Additionally, you can gain insight into what type of format and content presentation results in the highest amount of click-throughs. Given these insights, don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats, times, and offers.

Edit. Then edit again. Then edit one last time.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your deal is, if you can’t communicate it properly you will lose all credibility. Consumers can’t trust an email that looks like it was written by a 5 year old. So make it a point to write in complete sentences with regular punctuation and grammar.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a novelist, so if writing isn’t your forte, don’t fret. Bullet lists are easily accessible to your reader (recall how much you loved my bullet list above!) and are short enough to write in under 10 minutes. Condense your information to the most pertinent, and give it to your customer in a format they can easily scan through.

Finally – Know Your Spam Rules

Don’t inadvertently send spam because you are unaware of the rules. Before you begin an email marketing campaign, review the CAN-SPAM act to avoid any trouble. The most important thing to remember is that you can only send bulk email to people who have requested to be on your mailing list. If you request their email address, you have to also ask if they’d like to receive news and deals from your business. There also has to be a clear unsubscribe option in every email you send.

Simple enough – time to get emailing! And tune in next Wednesday for part two of our email-marketing series, where we’ll cover the best email management systems for your small business.

How do you handle email marketing? Share below!

About the Author

April Atwood

April is a freelance writer who combines her marketing and writing experience with a love for supporting small businesses. She writes, bikes, and uses a coffee press, but not in the pretentious way.


  1. says

    Selling, but getting to the point usually helps. You use a selling subject, but you also get to the point and put it out on the table.. without sending 1000 e-mails.

  2. says

    Hi April,

    Great write indeed. I think it is also important not to make the email sounds pitchy (sales). I did try this before and I got more subscribers unsubscribing to the mailing list before I knew it.

    Personally, I like to let it ‘flow by itself’ and guess that what works best for me.

    Have a great day and voted up on BizSugar.


  3. says

    Hi April,

    I’m with you, whenever I sign up for someone’s email, if they send me promotion after promotion I find myself unsubscribing.

    I don’t do this with my email list. I just started building up my email list and still working on building a relationship with them.

    Your post definitely gave me some great ideas on how to use my email marketing campaign better. Thanks for sharing these tips and I hope you have a great day.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment Susan! I completely agree, email building is relationship building, because no one wants to be hit with an onslaught of marketing content. Good luck with your adventures in emailing – let us know how it goes!

  4. says

    We use Vertical Response and get excellent reports. We know how many links were clicked on, which ones, how many recipients unsubscribed and how many emails were opened and read. The cost is very low and they have an unbelievable amount of support, with lots of design features.
    For all your individual, school, team and group fundraising needs.


  1. […] Marketing Campaign SuccessTips For Using Email Marketing To Improve And Inspire Email Marketing That Won't Make Your Customers Hate YouLooking To Maximize Your Email Marketing EffortsGenerate More Traffic For Your Website Using Mass […]

  2. How to Email Your Customers Without Making Them Hate You

    Our best email marketing tactics including topics, content, and frequency, as well as the best email management programs on the market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *