Do You Alienate Your Subscribers?

girl showing disgust

I noticed a handyman truck the other day with “Rent-a-Husband” on the side. I thought it was a cute name for such a business. I saw a similar one later that day called “Husband For Hire.” This caused my marketing brain to kick into gear.

Could these businesses be losing customers because of their name? How many busy single men or husbands would want these vans parked outside their home? It’s good to focus on a niche, but should you risk alienating so many potential customers?

Let’s look at what goes through a subscriber’s mind when they’re feeling alienated and how you can avoid falling into this trap.

1. Is This Real?

victoria secret subject line

This Victoria’s Secret subject “Let’s connect…” reminded me of spam common to online dating sites. Even if you don’t connect it with spam, there’s a bit of a disconnect saying “let’s connect” to someone you are already emailing.

To avoid any confusion, Victoria’s Secret could have had something like “Follow us on social media for exclusive discounts” to get readers interested and excited.

Split testing their subject lines would be an excellent way for Victoria’s Secret to find out if they can get more opens with another subject.

2. I Have Poor Confidence? newsletter

The first article on’s newsletter is about building confidence. That’s great, I’m sure there are plenty of people who find that helpful, but most of the runners I know have plenty of confidence. How would they feel seeing that?

It’s possible did their research and found that the vast majority of their subscribers are newbies and need confidence. But, if that’s not the case, they may be barking up the wrong tree here. could use segmenting to send this version of their newsletter to newbie subscribers.

3. I Care About Football?

Best Buy has a lot of televisions to sell and apparently only one demographic to sell to. What’s with all the football? I’m sure football fans are big television buyers, but what about the rest of us? Even showing the Olympics would have a broader reach.

Best Buy might be targeting their football fans, but with so many televisions displayed, you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t show some other stills. They could even chalk it up as a way to show how these televisions display different colors.

Best Buy could split test the images they use in their emails to see if a variety causes more clicks and sales.

4. I Want This Up on My Screen?

I’ll sometimes buy clothes and other items during my lunch break. It’s a good time to take to go through my Promotions tab in Gmail and pick out the good sales. Bebe is definitely one of my favorite stores, but they usually use somewhat provocative images that make me want to skip their emails when I’m in the office.

I’d be curious to know what kind of split testing they’ve done with the images in their emails. Do most people like the sexy look? Have they tried a more casual approach?

Bebe might want to survey their audience to find out what images they like to see, or even split test their emails to see what gets more sales.

Have You Felt Alienated?

Tell us your stories about how a company caused you to feel unsure about doing business with them, or when a customer complained about your approach and what you did to fix it.


  1. Patrick Cherubini

    2/11/2014 9:51 pm

    We try to educate our own clients to create relevant lists and speak to them directly over “blasting” one generic message to all subscribers.

    It’s a hard habit to break.

  2. Fred A. Constantine

    2/12/2014 8:52 am

    Had Subscribe you blog . Good tips for us .email marketing is more targeted, have better conversion.

  3. Ivan Widjaya

    2/20/2014 8:35 pm

    I guess it happens all the time. That’s what you get when you don’t carefully thought out your campaigns or you take the risk of creating an ad that will not appeal to other people.

  4. MailMan

    3/20/2014 4:39 pm

    Thank you for your article. The worst moments, for us, are when a client doesn’t understand, that OR won’t be high, if they want to send the same email to all of the people from base, which… was bought. It’s sometimes even harder to explain, that only segmentation or – better – marketing automation will help effectively. We hope that the value of email marketing will be more clear (in time :)). Best regards from Poland