These 6 manipulative email tactics are a no-go

There’s a thin line between persuasion and manipulation. And your subscribers are clever enough to tell the difference. That’s why it’s better to focus on respecting your subscribers choice, instead of trying to manipulate them. Bearing this in mind, here are six email tactics that have no place in a contemporary, subscriber-centric email marketing strategy.

1. Using pushy email opt-in and opt-out language

Implying that people are either lazy or crazy if they don’t sign up for your newsletter is not the best tactic to start up a relationship with potential customers. The same goes for your unsubscribe page: it will only create unnecessary frustration. And it will definitely not help you to try and salvage your relationship with that contact. Some marketers may think that provocative language draws attention or shocks people into thinking twice about opting out. But creating a feeling of guilt with your prospects, is never the right way to connect with them. It’s better to be transparent and open in your communication. Try to describe what people can expect when they are opting in and offer them a positive alternative in a polite way if they decide to opt-out.

2. Sending only promotional mails

A solid plan with a smart mix of content is your key to happy subscribers. Offer people a clever combination of interesting content, so they don’t get bored. It’s never a good idea to send them purely promotional emails, unless they specifically indicated they only want to receive promotional content or are ready to buy. Emails with “start your free trial today” or “48-hour sale starts now” as a subject will put off a lot of people. You’re literally giving them a reason to unsubscribe.

3. Hiding your brand in the From field

Recent talk about human-to-human marketing causes more and more brands to adopt a human representative. Some see this as a green light to abandon their brand name. And that may not be the smartest move. Be aware that a brand name is far more recognisable than the names of people who work for that brand. So, when it comes to promotional emails, make sure that people notice your brand name in the From field at first glance. Being recognised as a brand in the inbox is crucial, as emails from unknown senders have a higher potential to be ignored or reported as spam. Most consumers look at the from name first, so your email could end up being neglected or thrashed, even before your subject line gets read. If you insist on using a physical person’s name in the From field, make sure your put your brand name right next to it, like the emails from ‘Sofie from Zalando’ or ‘Emma at Sarenza’.

4. Misleading your contacts with your subject lines

The goal of your subject line isn’t only to generate as many opens as possible. It needs to help you convert contacts after they’ve opened your email. Misleading or vague subject lines attract only the curious and will lead to opens. But higher conversion rates? Probably not. More opt-outs and spam complaints? Definitely.

5. Hiding the unsubscribe link

We all know how tempting it is to hide your unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email. Preferably in a very small font, so few people notice it. But there’s a good reason why you shouldn’t: your brand’s emails will face more deliverability issues. When subscribers find it difficult to unsubscribe, they use the never-fail report spam button instead. And unlike unsubscribes, spam complaints can really hurt your email deliverability. 

6. Not offering subscribers a choice

People who opt-in for your newsletter, might not want to receive your other promotional emails as well. That’s why you should give possible prospects a choice. Let them choose which kind of communication they want to receive. Or even better: also give them a choice of frequency. Someone who wants to receive info from your brand only once a month, is still more valuable than someone who unsubscribes because they feel overloaded with daily or weekly mails they don’t want.


Some of the above tactics may seem tempting to get more subscribes or to expand your contact list. But rest assured: in the end you’ll find you’ll get better response and higher loyalty from contacts who feel they’re treated with respect by your brand.

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Posted on
Jan 16, 2019