Manners are more important in some situation than others. Will it make a huge difference if you correctly set the table for a Chinese takeout dinner? Probably not. Do you need to take off your hat the moment you enter a home if you’re the only one around? Nobody will know! However, the inbox is a place where manners definitely matter, and your behavior can quickly determine if you will be invited for another visit or if you’ll be asked to leave (with a not-so-subtle unsubscribe).

We asked our resident email marketing maven, Jill Guest, to share some of her pet peeves with email marketing and to describe her overall subscriber philosophy that guides her email marketing strategy for SendGrid. Watch the video below (just over five minutes) or scroll down to see a quick breakdown of Jill’s take on proper email marketing manners:

Pet Peeves

#1. When it’s difficult to unsubscribe.

Nobody wants to jump through hoops to opt out of receiving your email. Chances are they were put off in some way in the first place to cause them to unsubscribe, don’t add insult to injury! Instead, make your unsubscribe an easy, one-click process.

#2. When valuable email real estate is ignored.

Marketers often forget about one of email’s prime pieces of real estatethe pre-header text! The pre-header text is the small snippet of text that can be seen in the inbox, after the subject line. Don’t leave the automatic placeholder, “Can’t view this properly? View in web browser.” Instead, you can use this space to reiterate the CTA, or add an additional important directive that you didn’t have space for within the subject line.

#3. When companies use personalization as click bait.

Personalizing your email with substitution tags is a good idea, but only when done with the right intention. For example, using a recipient’s first name and company in the subject line may help your open rates initially, but once they click through and find the content isn’t personalized to them specifically, they’ll likely catch on and stop engaging. Instead, use demographic or behavioral information to personalize the content one step further.

#4. When companies use an isolated event/purchase to personalize their content.

When sending personalized emails you take the risk of sending content that truly isn’t of interest to your recipient if you’re only using one specific data point. It can be off-putting when you open an email that’s entirely designed and targeted at (what feels like should be) someone else. Instead, make sure you’re using an aggregate view of your data to make sure personalization is based off of as much customer information as possible.

Jill’s “Subscriber-First” Philosophy

If you’re following best practices like testing and optimizing campaigns, and segmenting your list, you have a much clearer idea of who your recipients are and what they expect and need from your email program. There will always be internal pressure to push a certain product or “sell, sell, sell” and while you have an obligation to your team to try and make that happen, you also have an obligation to your subscribers to maintain that trust that you’ve built with them. You have to be careful not to push too hard and you have to honor what they’ve indicated in their preference center. It’s important to remember that if you don’t advocate for your subscribers, there may not be anyone else who will.

For more tips on proper email marketing manners and more, download our new guide A-Z of Email Marketing and put all of these tips to use using SendGrid’s new full-featured marketing email service, Marketing Campaigns.



Kate Schmeisser
When Kate isn't trying to teach herself the ukelele, make it through the mountain of books on her nightstand, or figure out if they are actually being serious about suggested serving sizes on ice cream, she is the Creative Content Manager.