Common Email Content Mistakes and How to Fix Them
By Kristen Dunleavy April 19, 2016
Have you ever received an email that you had to read several times to understand its meaning? And, even then, you still weren’t sure what the heck it was about?
There’s a good chance that the meaning in that message was lost because it was rife with spelling, grammar and general language errors. The person behind the email meant well, they just didn’t take the time to review their content to make sure it would make sense for you – their audience.
Sadly, this happens a lot – especially with marketing emails.
That’s why we teamed up with Grammarly to find out what people really think about emails with errors like these. We asked Grammarly’s 6.2 million Facebook followers if spelling and grammar mistakes in marketing emails leave them with a negative impression of a brand.
Not surprisingly, 97 percent of the people we polled said yes. They said a lot of other things, too.
“YES. When I see the first error, I hit DELETE.” – Rick Wright
“I can’t help but switch off when I see this. It applies to any writing. I instantly lose interest, not consciously, but irreversibly frown emoticon.” – Audrey Stevenson
“If the grammar and spelling of an email is off, then I instantly dismiss it as a scam. I won’t even finish reading it before I delete it.” – Freyja Weust
You get the picture. Your emails are a reflection of you. Here’s why you should pay extra attention to what you write in your emails and a few best practices for writing better emails.
Your email subscribers care about details
“If a company can’t spell or use grammar correctly, how could I trust how useful their product/service is?” – Barry Lindstrom
“More companies should invest time and money in the hiring of copy editors and proofreaders.” – Penny Cornett
As a Content Marketing Specialist and strict grammarian, I have to give Penny a virtual high-five.
Even if the difference between “your” and “you’re” isn’t a big deal to you (although I think it should be), your subscribers will notice. And they will judge you.
Why does this matter?
Well, in the early stages of your relationship with your subscribers – your welcome email campaign, for example – your subscribers are still getting to know you. You have to earn their trust. Those first few emails are critical for making a good first impression.
An error in your first email (or welcome email) could mean the difference between an unsubscribe and a continued, profitable relationship with your subscriber.
Like Barry said above, if you don’t pay attention to detail in your emails, people won’t trust you to pay attention to detail in your products, either.
Not everybody is down with “text speak…”
“My sister and I once tried to set up a cellular phone for our aged mother. We were both confounded when asked to ‘Punch in your deets.’ I was left wondering what insecticide had to do with a cell phone and how on earth I was expected to punch it into a computer without destroying it.” – Dan Marchant
Like it or not, the way we communicate is changing. Elements of “text speak” – that is, abbreviations and slang like peeps, LOL and emojis – are creeping their way into marketing emails. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes adding an emoji to your subject line can boost your open rates.
But before you get wild with taco emojis and LOLs in your email content, ask yourself: Will this resonate with my audience? And: Are these elements enhancing my message?
Here are a few examples of brands using casual language and emojis:
In these examples, the subject line is personal. It’s almost as if the email is coming from a friend. This has become a fairly common email marketing tactic, and it can increase your open rates.
These brands know their audiences well, so they know that personal, relaxed language resonates with them.
But tread carefully: if you use language that doesn’t resonate with your subscribers, your message may be lost on them. Get to know your audience first so you can figure out what voice and tone works best for them.
If you’re wondering what kind of language will work best for your subscribers, just ask! Send them a survey with a few language examples and ask which is their favorite.
…or language that borders on profanity, for that matter.
A casual vibe in your emails is one thing, but using profanity is another. Even if you have the most laid-back subscribers on the planet, think twice before dropping an f-bomb. (And yes, it does happen.)
“These may be provocative, [but] it is mass marketing. Not everyone will be secular, potty-mouthed or understand the slang. Alienating people should not be part of your brand.” – Katie Westlake-Waugh
While pushing the envelope may work for some, disrespecting your subscribers is never ok.
Without quality writing, the meaning of your email content is lost
Sometimes one small error can change the entire meaning of your message. Take Bill’s example:
“I wouldn’t want to change the claim on the filo dough package – “does not brake.” This helps speed me along when I’m baking. Most other errors reduce credibility for me.” – Bill Blackburn
Bill’s filo dough is virtually unstoppable. But I don’t think that’s what the company behind that package was trying to convey.
Here’s another example:
“I once got an email titled something like ‘SALE PEEPS!’ I remember thinking, this company is selling Peeps? You know, the marshmallow bird things? It turned out they were just trying an experiment in marketing. I emailed them to let them know it was not appreciated.” – Michelle Hanzel
Misspellings and unclear language – intentional or not – can completely change the meaning of your email. When you have something important to say, be as clear as possible. This isn’t the time to get creative. Your email content should drive people to your call-to-action so they can buy your product or learn more about you.
3 ways to write better email content
Take your time
When you’re stoked about promoting a new product, service or event, it’s so tempting write an email super fast and hit send without a second thought. Next time this happens, stop for a moment and ask yourself if your email can wait a few hours or even a few days.
In most cases, there are more benefits to holding off on sending the email because you’ll have more time to refine your message. Try creating an email editorial calendar to better plan your emails in advance – here’s how to do it.
Get a copy editor
Spellcheck and autocorrect are helpful, but they’re no substitute for human feedback. Even if your message is short, ask a friend or colleague to give it a read. You never know what kind of insight you’ll get from a fresh pair of eyes.
Want to add an extra layer of safety to prevent spelling and grammar gaffes? Try a browser plug-in like this one to automatically scan your email content for possible errors.
Own up to your mistakes
So you’ve made a mistake. Now what? Sending an apology email can help you save face whether you’ve accidently sent your subscribers a test email or included the wrong date or link in your email.
In your apology email, come clean about the error and give your subscribers the correct information. If you can, extend a virtual olive branch with a coupon code on your subscribers’ next purchase.
Need more help writing emails?
Figuring out what to write in your emails is half the battle. That’s why we created the What to Write in Your Emails course and templates. You’ll learn what to write in your autoresponders, broadcasts and more. Sign up for your free course and you’ll get 45+ email templates right away.