10 Dumb Bulk Email Blunders

Email. We love to send it, but we really don't want or need anymore in our inboxes.
You probably send a lot of email. I'm asking you this week to reexamine what you're sending people. I want you to improve your messages and make sure you're not sending the same ole, lame ole email messages that everyone else is sending.
Slow down. Think before you send.
Think of your email as another art form. You're reaching out and trying to build connections with every email. Create an engaging composition as you would with your art.
Don't waste the one chance you have to get the message right. More importantly, don't junk up other inboxes with ill-advised email.

Oh-Too-Common Email Blunders

  1. Not saying anything. You're just sending an email because you think it's time and you don't work on your message long enough. Don't waste your readers' time.
  2. Saying too much. If you haven't sent an email update in awhile, it's tempting to try to catch up with all that's been going on. Don't do that to your poor readers. That's what blogs and Facebook pages are for. Get to the point in your email.
  3. Apologizing for not staying in touch. Really? Do you think we missed another email in our inboxes? Don't apologize, just get to the point. In the future, when you promise to send a monthly missive, keep that promise unless you have extenuating circumstances (always understandable and forgiven).
  4. Putting your entire list in the TO or the CC line. Every time you do this, you share email addresses with everyone on your list and risk pissing people off (sorry, there's no nicer way to say it). Use the Bcc line!
  5. Using a dull or trite subject line. Your subject line encourages people to open an email – or not. Vary your subject line and compel us to open what's inside.
  6. Bunching up all of your text. Your message should be scannable. Use 1-2 short sentences per paragraph, add subheadings, and bold important points. (See how I've done it in this post?)
  7. Sending images that are too large and take a long time to download.
  8. Putting all of your message in an attachment. Rule: Attachments are bonuses. They support the message, but they don't replace it. ALL images are attachments. Even though they look great on your screen, they might show up as a big red X and an attachment in someone else's inbox.If you want people to open the attachment, you have to give them reason to do so. Put all of the details in the message itself.
  9. Not using precise locations. Remember that email messages go out to the world – not just your local audience. Don't forget to add the name of the town, the city, and perhaps the country. Saying “It's near the mall” doesn't mean anything to your readers if they don't know your town and aren't anywhere near you.
  10. Sending your bulk email message to anyone who didn't request it. If you're sending your email to people who didn't opt in to your list you risk violating the CAN SPAM laws. More importantly, you risk alienating potential fans. Nobody appreciates receiving bulk email that they didn't subscribe to.
  11. There must be more. Maybe you know of a #11. Please share it with us in a comment.

Correct any of the above blunders you might be making and you're on your way to mastering email marketing for your art.

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33 thoughts on “10 Dumb Bulk Email Blunders”

  1. Excellent points Alyson. I would add this: limit exclamation marks! Not everything you say deserves one!! An exclamation mark after each sentence makes you seem a little silly!!!!
    Honestly, one or two well-placed marks are much more effective.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Oh, isn’t that the truth, Patty !!!!
      When everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.

  2. #11 If you are sending to your distribution list using your local provider or your website email make sure you know how many emails you are allowed to send out over a period of time. Many providers will only allow 50 emails an hour. Send more than that and you may be put on the Spammers list.
    If you list is long consider transiting over to an email service like Constant Contact or use Feedburner, a free service from Google to send your blog posts.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Kim: Yes, use a service to send bulk email – not your desktop mail program. Much safer AND it’s automated.

  3. Although I’m a bit picky, typos distract me and disrupt the flow of a written message. When I receive an email with an obvious error, it changes my perception of the professionalism/credibility of the gallery or artist who sent it. Whether that perception is true or not is a different matter, but taking the time to proofread is part of creating that engaging “art form” through our communication.
    Thanks for your great advice Alyson, Patty, and Kim.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Amanda: I agree, but I also try to be understanding with some typos – knowing that I make them myself from time to time.
      It’s misspelling names that is top in my list.

  4. Alyson,
    A potential #11: I’ve found it invaluable to use an email service, in my case Constant Contact, where you can manage your contacts and track in great detail the response to every email, even different subjects in the email (via link tracking). Over time, I’ve been able to see what messages and images people in different categories of my list respond to, thereby targeting particular audiences with particular messages and not annoying my most valuable customer base and being marked spam.
    I still get marked as spam once in awhile, even though everyone on the list signed up (about 800) and I only send out real news. So now I highlight very boldly at the end of each email how to unsubscribe and ask that anyone who doesn’t want to get my emails anymore safely unsubscribe rather than marking my emails as spam. It’s helped.
    If you don’t use a service, you’re not getting you message to everyone on your list, you don’t necessarily know who’s email is bouncing or why, and you don’t know when you’ve been marked spam.

    1. I guess you meant “ask that anyone who doesn’t want to get my emails anymore safely unsubscribe.” That wasn’t worded well. See what being in a hurry does? In my emails, I use the wording “If you wish to unsubscribe…” It’s not the largest font in the email, but is in a location where people will see it, in addition to the line similar to the one you use that’s always at the top of the email in an 8 pt. or smaller font. It’s worked. Only one, two or no opt outs each time and now Spam hits since I started this. Out of over 800 subscribers, I guess you’re going to loose a few. I usually gain more from emails being forwarded.

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Sorry to confuse, Ellen. No, you didn’t make a blunder. What I meant is that the article is about Blunders. I’m asking what Blunder you’re putting forth.

    3. The blunder is not using a service. I went several years without a service and it was a headache. Furthermore, once an email went out, that was it unless someone emailed me. I couldn’t see how many opened the email, what they clicked through to, invaluable knowledge to one earning a living strictly from their painting and print sales.

  5. Great advice, all. But it turns out that there is a nicer way of saying, “. . . risking pissing people off.” It’s “. . . risking annoying people.” And then you don’t have to say you’re sorry.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Arthur: I shouldn’t have apologized. I meant what I wrote. You won’t just annoy people by sharing their emails with everyone. You’ll make some of them really mad.

  6. Candy from Candied Fabrics

    My big blunder in a email blast: having a bad link! How embarrassing to find out one of the main purposes of the email (notifying the embeship that new content was available online) was non- functional! Now, I always check links. 🙂

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Charlie: Technically, it’s okay to do that because you have a relationship with them. However, you will notice that most online stores ask permission first. I think it’s much safer to ask permission.
      As someone with an online store, I never add names of people who purchase from me to my weekly newsletter. I’d rather miss a future sale than to upset someone by sending them something they don’t want.

  7. This is probably covered under proofreading, but one blunder I’ve made when I compose an email in my word processing program and then paste into email is not sending a test copy to myself to check the formatting. Paragraph spacing in particular or inserted images may not transfer and can be very annoying. I’ve been known to send several test messages before I’m happy. Another reason to use a service, I guess!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Margaret: Yes! You must test. A good way to get paragraph spacing more in line with what you want is to start with plain text rather than MS Word.

  8. A blunder, or maybe just a pet peeve… I sort emails by sender and subject. If you’re sending mail for an event or organization, please include appropriate id in at least one of these. If I don’t recognize who it’s from or what the subject is, I usually trash it.

  9. The most annoying group of blunders for me are from the spelling-typo-grammar family. I suppose it should matter less if I am looking at artwork than when I am reading a blog post, but it doesn’t seem to. When I make one of those errors, I cringe.
    Proofread. Have someone else proofread. Remember that “Spell check is not thought check.”
    Now, go back and make some fabulous art!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Susan: I know. They’re awful. But, having made them myself, I forgive the infrequent ones.
      LOVE your avatar. So fun!

  10. Pingback: business buzz 6-11-11

  11. Here’s a blunder from an email that I received today. I got an email from a person I know, because I am already an engaged customer of her company’s business. Problem is the email was written to a new list of “potential” accounts that she must have just acquired. Not cool to get a “Dear Stranger” email from somebody you already know! Makes me feel like my business has gone unnoticed. It probably wouldn’t have taken too much time to cross-check the new list with her current contacts.

  12. Don’t forget to give people a way to unsubscribe. It seems funny to say but you don’t want to piss people off by not allowing them to stop getting your email.
    A woman once breezed by my booth and swiped a business card then started sending me spam about her business. When I wrote to her and asked her to take me off her list she said she would but then didn’t. The next email I sent to her was not as pleasant and she got offended. Needless to say, I will never be her customer. Lesson, don’t anger your customers.

  13. Pingback: Email Marketing for Artists: A Compilation « Art Biz Blog

  14. For those of us who have never sent out e-mail blast, it would have been nice to see some sample emails. I have wanted to try this but was never sure of what it should look like.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Joel: Are you wondering what it would LOOK like or what it would say? I’ve written a lot about this on this blog (try the search function) and there are loads of examples in my book.

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Oooo. And you ordered the book, so the answers are on their way to you. Thank you!

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