How to not write an email

bad email

I don’t get it.

Lately a bunch of marketers have put me on their email list – as if I opted in on my own accord – which I didn’t.

I cannot fathom why they think this type of SPAM is a good way to start a business relationship, especially in light of the amateurish and pretty awful writing to be found in each of these unsolicited emails.

It’s one thing to present an opt-in offer to get somebody on your email list, but it’s a completely different thing to put somebody on your list without their permission and use the most extreme example of interruption marketing possible.

So with that in mind, I thought I would point out a few reasons why these emails are so bad. Click on the image to enlarge.

bad email

I have no idea who Natalie is or how she got my name and email, but I found her angle of attack (“I sent you an email before, did you get it?”) to be quite amateurish.  Also she is presenting her company’s portfolio as the big carrot, which is definitely not motivation enough to get me to click even if I did know who this person was.

In this case I actually did reply to her email and asked her to remove my name.  Never heard back from her.

bad email

This second example is even worse. Click on the image to enlarge.

Besides the fact it’s SPAM, look at the copy – it reeks of classic agency-style, “all about me” marketing.

Count the number of “I’s,” “my’s” and “we’s.”

bad email

Talk about breaking the classic copywriting fundamental of keeping the focus of your copy on the reader and his pains.  When writing marketing copy – you always have to keep reminding yourself to focus on “what’s in it for me – the reader?

The other huge miss in this email is the call to action. ..

“May I give your business a complimentary Value Assessment?”


This is the best Director Adam can do?  I think not.

How about the option of downloading a white-paper, or special report, or tip sheet on ways to save money on payment processing?  Give me something which offers me the opportunity to get to know you better.

In this day and age of split second attention spans and rampant cynicism and skepticism, your marketing must do everything it can to focus on the recipient’s pains, grab their attention and assure them you understand them in an authentic way. You must also present a believable solution to their challenges.

  • SPAM is not the way to do it.
  • Talking about yourself first is not the way to do it.
  • Creating a lame call-to-action is not the way to do it.

Good, effective copywriting works.

Sound direct marketing works.

Which is what I focus on in my in my SMART Ideas newsletter.  This print and digital newsletter is an effective antidote for you to create attention-grabbing, smart marketing campaigns.  Check out this special offer to grab my entire 2012 SMART Ideas “back issue” collection and a super-valuable bonus gift which can instantly improve your marketing results.

SMART Ideas newsletter


About Mike Capuzzi

Mike is a publisher, Amazon # best-selling author, and coach for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders looking to stand out from the competition by authoring, publishing and leveraging short, helpful books. He is the author of 19 books, including two Amazon #1 Best Sellers. Learn more about his publishing opportunities at


  1. Warren Kruger on June 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Hey Mike

    Why don’t you contact these “marketers” and offer to do the copywriting for them for a 5-figure sum?
    On the other hand, they probably haven’t made a sale yet…so they won’t have any $$$ to pay you.
    I would send them a bill for consuming my time reading their crap…a good lawyer would…!

    Cheers from Warren in Perth, Western Australia

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

      That’s good (but never going to happen 🙂 BTW, I was just invited to speak in Australia this coming November. Looking to see if it will work out. Thanks for the note!

  2. Edwin on June 6, 2013 at 8:36 am


    I like the new design of your site. I also agree with the tactics being used by many marketers today. I have also seen a large increase of “marketing” emails that I never subscribed to. I suspect that Google may actually be palying a role in this as I use G-mail for my business email. Time is too precious to keep having to opt out of these emails.

    What ever happened to relationship building? As Dan says, we need to become “welcome guests” and not “annoying pests”. Thanks for the post.

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Edwin. Good to know I am not the only one!

  3. Tom on June 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Hi Mike,
    Your message is very timely for me. I am experiencing the same issue which is irritating. What is alarming is that I deal with large companies. One of my top customers has blacklisted all emails from because they have been barraged by this kind of SPAM. They do not have the ability (or the will) to whitelist my emails even though they have paid for may content.
    Poor emails hurt all of us. Thanks for raising the issue.

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Tom, what you bring to light is a sad result of these types of emails and SPAM. It brings to light the fact you cannot solely rely on just email for communication and all smart marketers have several different types of marketing media in their toolkit.

  4. Harry Koenninng on June 6, 2013 at 9:03 am


    Good examples of bad. Personally, If I don’t recognize the sender, that email never gets opened let alone read.

    I would really like to see how you would rewrite those emails. That could be very beneficial to your readers.

    Harry Koenning
    Olmsted Auto Care
    Olmsted Twp. Ohio

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Harry – good question (gonna make me work huh?). My first step would be NEVER to send an unsolicited email like these. These are both SPAM, since I never asked for them, opted on a list, etc. I would use other media (direct mail, social media, etc.) to get somebody to raise their hand and ask for some type of free information, tip sheet, book, etc. Then I would have a personalized follow-up campaign that doesn’t contain a lot of “all about me” copy BUT does contain a lot of “here’s how I can help you” copy.

      Three quick “rewrite suggestions.” Have somebody proof or read your marketing content before you send it out. Get their input in the tone and focus of the message. Second, count the number of times you reference “I”, “me”, “we” vs. “you.” Your recipient’s want to know how you can help them save time, money, be safe, etc. Also, after somebody requests information from you, it’s a smart strategy to REMIND them they asked for it (if mailing it, put a sticker on the outside – “Here’s the info you requested” or on email – “Since you asked for this”). Good luck!

  5. Brian Mittman on June 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Great and timely piece Mike. It’s actually more insidious. I am getting the spam emails, then getting follow up phone calls where they tell my assistant they are following up on the email ‘exchange’. I actually tried to corner a few of these folks for meetings and they begged off when my assistant insisted they send us information and set up a time to meet Mr. Mittman. Unfortunately, such tactics will likely lead to some adverse reaction by regulators and we will have to add more stuff in emails telling people that we are marketing to them….

  6. Phil Brakefield on June 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Hey Mike…

    THINGS I REALLY LIKE: the look and feel of your redesign.

    THINGS I REALLY HATE: SPAM and lame, lazy marketing.

    On the other hand, if your examples are typical (and they definitely are), we who strive to always do it right and are always trying to improve should be heartened that the level of our competition would consider the basement a penthouse.

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks Phil!

  7. Phil Brandon on June 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I totally agree with you. I don’t know how much time I waste on a daily basis with SPAM emails. These people would never get my business since they do not even know how to run theirs.

  8. Dr. Carney on June 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Well Mike,

    All I can say is apparently they’re not READING your posts, or they’re not a subscriber of yours. Anyone with a brain knows that emails can be personal, engaging and fun, and still get someone to get off the couch and respond.

    I’m looking forward to the event coming up shortly, and I’ll be there with bells on.

    By the way, I’m working on something special for all the people there and I’ll be sending it to you shortly so it can go in their bag. Keep up the good work and the new site is great.

    Dr. Carney

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Doc! Looking forward to finally meeting you after all these years!

  9. Jon Toy on June 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Great post. We all get this garbage regularly. The funny thing is they probably think it’s a great way to get business when they do it, then wonder why it doesn’t produce anything and keep doing it anyways….dumb marketing.

    It would be interested to see if they even reply if you asked a question.

    Thanks for sharing

  10. Ken Styles on June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Hi Mike
    Your website is working fine. That is the most convincing sales piece I have read of yours. Maybe it’s because those emails didn’t look that bad to me. Mine are probably worse.
    You had an offer recently where you included some doodle creating software that copied the owners handwriting. Is that special still available?

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Ken – not sure what offer you are referring to, but it sounds like my monthly SMART Ideas promotion. That will be live next week.

  11. Rebecca Bloomquist on June 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the article. It is always a good reminder to strive to practice good writing skills and techniques. The examples you’ve shown bring smack to our attention what to avoid….shiver me timbers….LOL!

  12. Jeff Giagnocavo on June 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Of course I too have seen these types of emails. Sadly when my financial planner left Northwest Mutual the new local office attempted to take over my account and life insurance policy.

    I got what I would call a spam letter in the mail, 18 months after my financial planner left!

    It started with the statement of we have left numerous messages in your email! Never once was there an email nor was there a phone message and they said they called me too. So here is a company that HAD a client with a 7 figure policy and decided it was not worth the time to make an actual communication but rather send me a letter to tell me they made a fake communication. Sad, and no, I’m still not their client!

    And I too loathe big dumb lazy marketing.

  13. Alan on June 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Mike…site looks good…no surprise there!

    Re:e-mails…how about establishing some form of “personal” connection (reason why) with your prospect that at least demonstrates you’ve done your homework…hmm?

    Wonder what their open rates are!

    Good stuff,

  14. Debra Hilton on June 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Mike,

    The site’s working, and this was a great opener. I find it even more annoying that in some of these SPAM mails, there is no way to unsubscribe – unless you write an email to them.

    As an Australian, I’d like to hear more if you make plans for a trip out here.


  15. Felicia Slattery on June 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Mike!
    We’ve traveled in similar circles for years, but I haven’t yet had the pleasure or meeting you. But Phil Brakefield was just talking about you and I thought to myself, “Let’s see what Mike Capuzzi is up to right now.” And here Phil is commenting on your blog!

    I clicked on this post in particular because I’ve also noticed a number of similar messages in my inbox lately. These types of messages are just plain bad outreach from sales people who don’t know how to sell.

    To me, what’s even worse is being subscribed to a marketer’s list when I’ve never heard of him and getting emails written to me like I’ve been on his list forever. It’s sleazy and THAT in my book is the ultimate worst kind of SPAM.

    I’m actually sorry I’m not the only one… that means these people are rampantly running around SPAMMING the world. It’s a shame really, when there are so many more legitimate ways to reach out that also happen to convert better (duh).

    So, nice to “meet” you on your blog here. I never saw the old design, but this one looks friendly enough and I’ll certainly be back!

    Felicia Slattery

    • Mike Capuzzi on June 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks for the note Felicia and any friend of Phil is a friend of mine 🙂

Leave a Comment