Is This Mistake Landing Your Emails In Spam?

Good ideas executed badly will not bring you the results you’re looking for.

It’s wise to keep tabs on what your subscribers are doing. If you look at your stats and see some subscribers aren’t clicking on your links or even opening your emails, it’s time to take action.

We’ve talked before about how to handle inactive subscribers, but you have to be careful. Good ideas executed badly will not bring you the results you’re looking for.

Here is a cautionary tale about one big businesses’ misguided attempt in waking up sleepy subscribers.

A Surprising Discovery in My Spam Folder

I love Edible Arrangements. They make great gifts, especially when I can help eat them. I purchase from them a few times a year; not a lot, but I figure I’m a decent customer. Last summer I decided to subscribe to their email list, hoping for some sweet deals.

This made me surprised to find this email in my spam folder a few months later:

Why It Confused Me

First off, I like this company. I buy from this company. Why the heck would it be spam?

Oh, maybe it’s a duplicate confirmation message, and I already received one back when I signed up, so maybe my GMail sends duplicates to the spam folder? What’s going on here?

I looked at the bottom of the email and saw this:

Since August was a few months ago, this made me think it would be pretty weird to have a confirmation message, duplicate or otherwise, go out this late.

Then, I noticed something. The blue button says “I still want to hear from you.” They know I have been hearing from them. I suppose I didn’t interact with their emails enough and was put on an “inactive” list. Fair enough.

I checked it out in the subscription settings Edible Arrangements set up:

The “adding segment for existing subscribers” makes me pretty sure they were sending this message to their inactive subscribers.

Why Is This Marked As Spam?

Deliverability is a tough nut to crack. Any number of reasons could have put this email in my spam folder. But what I imagine is that many people marked this message as spam. I almost marked it as spam. And why? It wasn’t clear what was happening. I knew I had confirmed, so I was suspicious as to what this email is about. Clarity can make a huge difference.

How Edible Arrangements Should Have Done It

There are a few changes I would recommend:

  • Change the snippet at the top – The tiny text at the beginning of the email shows up in my Gmail inbox: “There’s still time to confirm your subscription and get your thank you gift. You can opt out at any time here.” Having a sense of urgency is good, but not when it’s about something I already did. Something like “Thank you gift – limited time only” would be better.
  • Take out “Please confirm your subscription” in the header – That line only belongs in a confirmation message. The kind you get right after you sign up.
  • Change the buttons – Right now they’re “Confirm” and “Cancel” which is continuing the (misleading) idea that this is a confirmation message. Instead, they could try something like “Yes, I want to keep receiving your emails” and “No, I’d like to cancel my subscription now.”

With the emphasis being placed on continuing instead of confirming, it would clear up a lot of confusion.

What Mistakes Have You Seen From Big Businesses?

We often look at major retailers and big corporations for ideas on how to market the right way… but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. What cringe-worthy tactics have you seen?


  1. Rishi

    2/18/2013 2:30 pm

    Great post!

    I have been noticing a lot of big company emails starting to go to SPAM especially in GMail.

    I believe GMail has started flagging emails as spam if people are deleting the email without opening it.


  2. Randall Magwood

    2/18/2013 10:30 pm

    This is an interesting mistake that Edible Arrangements made. The biggest problem I see big companies make is emailing me too much… I mean like 2 per day – when I’d rather hear from them about twice per week.

  3. Joan Stewart

    2/19/2013 3:06 pm

    My 2x-a-week ezine has an open rate of 40-50 percent, but I’ve been thinking of a way to nudge inactive subscribers instead of just removing them from the list. So this is a timely post. I also appreciate your link to the post on “handling inactive subscribers.”

    When I was filling in the info on how subscribe to your blog posts, a little thing popped up and said “AWeber is on Google+”. How did you make that happen? Did you us a plug-in?

  4. Crystal Gouldey

    2/19/2013 3:32 pm

    I’m glad this helped, Joan. As for the Google+ pop up, that’s not anything we set up. Are you using Chrome? My guess is that’s something that happens in Chrome.

  5. Joan Stewart

    2/19/2013 4:22 pm

    Aha! I AM using Chrome. That explains it.

  6. Stan

    2/19/2013 6:10 pm

    I have been flagged by people stating my info is spam. I NEVER send broadcast emails to try to avoid this. I send followups for 15 days, once per day. I get 40+ daily opt ins for several years. I have learned that a majority of people that opt in don’t recall what they opted into, then they view your followups as spam. They can easily flag any email as spam and this system will believe this to be true. This article is good, but the true reality, especially in the home biz arena is many are on line subscribing only to pass time; many are just browsing. Many flag emails as spam, just because they can. This should be taken into consideration for the reputable hard working marketers as there are many of us.

  7. Edward Davis

    2/19/2013 8:45 pm

    Nice, informative article.

  8. marklouis

    2/20/2013 5:15 am

    Great example cited. I would agree to you the clarity of content should be maintained.It is the way of execution what matters the most.Subscribers should receive emails on a regular basis but number should be in between 3 -5 emails per week.

  9. Marc Mays

    2/22/2013 9:14 am

    The single biggest mistake I’ve seen is people (and companies) who email too often. Remember, even if you have tremendous value in the emails you’re sending (and, chances are, if you email that much, you’re probably missing the mark more often than not) value is not what you think it is. It’s what your customers perceive it to be. Often, the customers on your list are probably on a few other people’s email lists as well.

    Think of your own inbox: Do you look forward to spending an hour or more getting caught up on emails? How about when you receive irrelevant emails, or duplicate emails which say the same exact darn thing 3 or more times? How about when 8 different people all send you the same JV offer for a new product launch? Or, has checking email become more of a chore you’ve learned to dread? Any time something becomes a chore, more and more people will say (in essence): “Screw this. Life’s too short. I’m going to go do something else, and forget all about (email, social media, etc.).” Then you have to find a new marketing channel which isn’t being abused as much.

    In short, if you don’t do a good job of managing your email list, your customers will do it for you, to the detriment of your pocketbook.

  10. Guillem Maura i Ray?

    5/7/2014 11:32 am

    How can I cancel my subscription?

  11. Brandon Olson

    5/12/2014 9:52 am

    Hi Guillem. Please contact our Customer Solutions team for help with your account (