How NOT to get your emails opened

Mmm, coffee…and emails. Like peanut butter and jelly.

The joys of email. Some days you’re struggling to keep up, skimming your inbox on the toilet. Other days you praise its invention. Talk on the phone with a real live person? 

No thanks! 

But with the rise of social media, everyone (by everyone, I mean everyone who thinks they’re a marketing guru) says: “Ehh email, is not that important. ______ is how you’ll get your dream client’s attention.” Enter whatever spastic social media platform you like here.

(I mean up there)

The truth: email is going strong. And it’s here to stay. 

Of course, no one single email is going to make you a millionaire. Email marketing is a lot like dating. There’s a lot of flirting and a little heavy petting before all the fireworks and bae-cations ensue. You want your squad to like you. You want your baes to trust you, and know the real you. 

And the numbers don’t lie.  

In 2017 alone, 269 billion emails were sent and 55% of those emails were opened on mobile. And if you love numbers, according to, the ROI on a single email campaign is  4400%. That means for one dollar spent on your email marketing you earn $44. 

Now that’s a secured bag to be proud of.

Email marketing crushes the world of instant gratification and short attention spans. Email is intimate. Like super intimate. We’ve gone from reading the back of our hair mask tubes to clearing a whole inbox of unread emails on the toilet. I’m saying, you were invited to the most exclusive party in town. You should be glad your inbox VIP card was stamped. 

You’re in! Now, you must stay on the list. Don’t be a fuck girl! LOL.

Here are a few pitfalls to avoid (and how to curve them) when sending out those sweet, sweet updates to your dream team:

  1. Subject line or preview is the same as the first line of your email – Really? That’s what got them tripping? Yes, really! You want the subject line to be informal and pull the reader in. You don’t have to be all sleazy, misleading, or stiff. Just be yourself. How would you get your bestie to open your email over all those shoe sales and day brunch parties? Think about it. And the preview needs to be tantalizing and all “ok, tell me more.” Think of the preview line as the trailer for your email. 

Over the next day or so peep the emails you open over the ones you don’t. What subject lines got you to open an email? What emails tossed in the trash or scrolled over? Did they use emojis? Were they so funny rose shot out your nose? Now incorporate what works, and do a little A|B testing with your subscriber list. 

Wish there was some magic website that could lit-ness test your headlines? 

Check out the subject line dope-o-meter. Oh, and the email preview-a-nator. The next time you draft that “gotta-have-it” newsletter, you’ll be sure your email is hitting. You’re welcome.

2. No goal in sight (cool story. ::eye roll:: now what?) – Thanks for the awkward anecdote about your trip to Walmart. Where is this going, girl? Yes, your subscribers wanna hear about the juicy bits, what makes you awesome, what makes you human, but they’d also really appreciate getting some value for their time and what you’d like them to do next. I’m guilty of going down the rabbit hole of anecdotes and small talk. 

What can I say? I love to chit-chat. But most people don’t, nor do they wanna think. They just did all that. They read your email. Now make em move! Give them that fire value (something that makes their life or biz better) and a sweet call to action. Raising money for your fundraiser? 

Want them to sign-up for your next popping webinar? Throw some respect on your goal and ask them to sign-up, watch your video, or donate to your cause. Closed mouths don’t get fed.

3. Not re-sending to unopened email accounts. – Before we go any further, you’re using an email marketing service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or SendinBlue, right? Ok phew, I thought you were sitting there sending emails from Gmail with no tracking or automation. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I love me some Mailchimp. There’s a free, juicy membership if you don’t have a fancy budget or a huge email list. Download the app to your phone to receive those clutch push notifications about your campaigns. Open rates & Click rates are the best way to judge your email is hitting the spot. Open rates usually mean your subject line is popping. 

Click rates, mean your CTA and content is on point. There’s even a dope pop-up feature to resend emails to those who have not opened your emails. If you have the app, you’ll get a push notification a few hours after your email lands in your tribes’ inbox, with the open rate. You could resend right away but I’d set it for 1 – 2 days after. 

Give the subject line a little remix while you’re at it. Here’s where some of that A|B testing can come into play. It could be the subject line that flopped, or it could be the time of day. Won’t know until you test it. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about your audience. You’ll also give them a second chance to get in on your next promo or life-changing announcement.

4. Keeping it too formal 🧐  (no gifs, no emoji, no opens) – Email can be, and should be fun. Inbox traffic is real so you’ll want to stick out as a friendly face in the crowd. Once they’ve opened your email up add some of that personality; some of your sauce. Slap on a gif or two. Who doesn’t love a good Cardi B or Carlton gif every now and then? Have some snippets of you doing some sick yoga moves? Turn it into a motivational meme. And don’t get so hung up on sentence structure and perfectly capitalized subject lines. Remember, you’re a VIP at the inbox party. 

Let your hair down and relax. Come through effortless and don’t overthink it. Made a typo? Poke fun at it in the next email or let it slide. You’re human. But don’t make it a hobby of being sloppy. Shoot, I’m a writer and I always get there, there, they’re mixed up…batch your emails and get them edited if you want to be on the safe side.

5. No line breaks – Readability is major. If you follow nothing else about style, do follow this: keep it tight, keep it spacey, and let it flow. Give each paragraph or point some space to breathe. If your email is a long-ass block of text, your reader will get overwhelmed and won’t give the content the time of day. You’ll want to isolate those important points. Bold or italicize a major point in the paragraph. Carve out breaks for your CTA and testimonials to shine. This goes for all your web-copy but especially your email. Don’t have them searching for the juicy bits. This isn’t an invitation to have a million colors, all caps sentences, or more than one font. Keep it clean, keep it classy. Maybe even a little nasty but never tacky. Less is more.

6. Ghosting your subscription list (tisk…tisk) – We all been there, or know a service provider who has ghosted their fans. Talking to you around the way juice shop! Ghosting your subscription list is a side effect of a few things: Inconsistency, writer’s block, or poor content strategy. Whether you’re marketing for a full-time business, side hustle, personal blog, or a fundraiser being clear on your brand message, your goals, and the amount of time you can dedicate to writing is key. So if you plan on sending something out daily, weekly, or monthly make sure you can actually set aside time to do it. Batching newsletters and content is another way to make sure you’re consistent. 

And if you’re like me, put blocks on your calendars for time to write, then do it. There’s inspiration everywhere and sometimes you just need to get in the grove. Doesn’t need to be profound, doesn’t need to be prolific. Just get out there and write from your heart, from your soul. Maybe it’s about how much you dislike writing these damn emails but love hearing your tribes’ success stories or thoughts on a matter. You don’t have to do all the work. Just show-up when they expect you to.

7. Personalization Faux Paus (guilty!) – Ahh, to personalize or not to personalize. It’s a great touch but technology gonna do what it gonna do. Sometimes it’s “Hey, Patricia!” Other times it’s my personal fave: “Yo, (name here)”. Guilty as charged! No, like for real it was embarrassing. It feels like that time you dated that f*ck boy who never said your name, or called you big head every time he sexts you. An all-around a no bueno move that leaves people feeling gross and like a piece of meat. Be sure to check the coding is correct on your template. Most mailing services have a framework in place. And an option to test and preview the email formatting before it goes out. I like to sign-up for my own list under an alias name just to be extra sure things are running smoothly. It’s also a confidence boost. Like OK, Betch, I see you got a professional newsletter out here! 

There are a plethora of ways to fuck up email but if you nail these you’ll upgrade to dope-queen-goddess of email in no time. Now go write the damn thing!
Like what I dished out? Have more email tricks and tips you’d like to share with the class? 

Well, bring it! Comment below and let us know how you slay your email marketing.


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