The (Real) 7 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing

We can all agree that deadly sins are bad: lust,

We can all agree that deadly sins are bad: lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, pride and envy. No one likes them. But what’s more important is that each of them can translate into something you might be doing in your email marketing. Which means people might not like you.

We’ll look at how each of these sins applies to email marketing and provide instructions for finding your way back on the right path.

LUSTFUL For More Subscribers

While it’s perfectly natural to have the desire to grow your list, when your desire involves shirking best practices, you could run into trouble down the road with spam complaints.

How to put your lust to good use: Get excited about attracting the right subscribers. Research ways you can optimize your sign up process, utilize social media, split test your web form and put a form on every page of your site.


You know those companies, the ones that keep sending emails like there’s no tomorrow. And not just any emails – poorly designed, not helpful and sending-for-the-sake-of-sending emails. We understand that happy feeling of pushing that “Send” button, but marketing should be about quality over quantity.

How to curb your appetite: Have you heard about the silverware with weights to make you think about eating? There are tools like that in email marketing as well: checklists. Use this handy checklist for every email you create and you’ll find yourself improving the quality of your messages.

GREEDY For More Sales

Making a profit? Necessary. Relentlessly going for the hard sell? Not effective and not necessary. No one wants to do business with someone who is only interested in the bottom line.

How to get more sales the right way: Think of every sales pitch as a conversation with your subscribers. Use a conversational tone as you explain your offer, how it helps your audience and why you or your company created it.

Too LAZY To Send Tests

The only way you’ll know if your marketing campaign is the best it can be is if you test. Even if you start off using tips many marketers swear by, you’re not going to know if you can do better.

How to start testing the fast way: Think you don’t have enough time? There are services that make it easy to test! Unbounce for landing pages, Padiact for forms, and AWeber offers split testing for broadcasts and web forms. Start with some simple changes and go from there.

ANGRY With Unsubscribes

People are going to unsubscribe, and that’s okay. However, with all the hard work you’ve put into your email campaign, it’s hard not to take it personally.

How to soften the blow: Think of this as a learning experience. You can have them comment why they are unsubscribing, and use this information to better your email marketing. Or, you might find that they no longer have a use for your product or service, in which case they’re just clogging your list.

Too PROUD To Take Suggestions

While you know what’s best for you, your email marketing campaign is for your audience and they know what’s best for them.
Piggybacking off the solution for the anger sin, you have to remember to listen to suggestions and complaints you hear and don’t discard them.

How to make it a positive experience for everyone: If people reply to your emails with suggestions, look at it as an opportunity to build relationships with your subscribers. Thank them for their advice, try it and share the results with them. If you’re B2B business, you can even return the favor and offer them some suggestions you’ve found work well.

ENVIOUS Of Competitors’ Campaigns

It’s wise to keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing. However, this also makes you vulnerable to envious feelings if you find someone doing things better. You’ll need to separate these feelings while you’re snooping around, because your campaign is not going to get any better by wishing it was something else.

How to turn your envy into a good idea: If you really like something, figure out how you can apply the feature or idea to your own campaign and make it your own. For example, if you think the “7 Deadly Sins of ___” title works well, think of how you can use that in your blog.

Are You Guilty of a Deadly Sin?

Have you ever found yourself guilty of one of these sins? How did you remedy the situation?


  1. Randall Magwood

    10/11/2012 8:40 pm

    I can attest to being guilty of the “Too PROUD To Take Suggestions” ‘sin’. For a long time I didn’t heed to suggestions from others, and I avoided getting help from forums because I thought I knew it all. Unfortunately for me, it took me years and alot of loss money until I accepted help from others. This finally helped me to get on the right track for earning money online. Great blog post.

  2. Wesley Anderson

    10/12/2012 2:16 am

    This is a good post. Most people are really unaware of the power of email marketing because it doesn’t get the publicity that it used to get. Now people are caught up in the moment of looking for affiliate programs that pay for leads and other such things.

  3. Andrew Spence

    10/12/2012 3:35 am

    This is a GREAT article with some fantastic tips for anyone involved in email marketing. I’ve posted this on my business page so as many people as possible can benefit from this great advice. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  4. Aaron

    10/12/2012 9:14 am

    Thanks Crystal-

    Creative way to point out some serious issues in email marketing (poor practices).

    A few of these hit me with some thoughts.

    When it comes to consulting I do- a few owners who have been marketing for years can be a bit proud to take advice. . . However

    Most of the time I run into business owners who simply don’t understand testing, how to do it, what to test or what the true value of testing is.

    I have a couple of rules with clients that I try to impose from the beginning until the lights come on. . .

    1) No Gurus allowed. . . which leads to
    2) Test everything that is reasonable – allow the tests to show us what the customer really wants. . .

    On the “Gluttonous with Emails” – whenever I present email marketing training to people, I get good response when I ask. . .

    “Share some of your email marketing horror stories – in other words. . . describe why you have unsubscribed from email newsletters that you had initially opted into”.

    People will share and agree on many of the common blunders and they almost discover from this kind of discussion, how to “not” send email campaigns.

    Thanks for the post again!

  5. EL

    10/12/2012 10:45 am

    Great title and content for email marketing sins.