12 Things To Avoid If You Don’t Want To Annoy Your Email Subscribers!


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I just unsubscribed from someones email list because the sender name was changed to ‘RSVP requested!’


I had no idea who it was from so I found myself reluctantly clicking to find out. It felt super manipulative.

So without reading the rest of the email, I unsubscribed. No matter what they were selling, I knew I didn’t want it as I don’t want to learn from someone who thinks it’s okay to use manipulative tactics in their marketing.

No thanks.


I posted about my dislike of manipulative email marketing tactics inside my Facebook community and it sparked a really interesting discussion about the things that annoy us as email subscribers.

But those were really only the tip of the iceberg and every day I see people using tactics which are very likely to have the opposite effect to the one they hoped for… people unsubscribing!

So here are a few more things you should consider avoiding if you want to stay on your email subscribers good side…


1. Using RE: in your subject lines.

It’s not the use of re that’s the problem here, it’s the placement.

By placing RE at the start of a subject line, it makes the subscriber think that it’s a reply to an email rather than a newsletter. They prioritise opening it thinking it’s something they need to action only to learn it’s a promotional email.

To many people, this feels manipulative.

You can however use re in other ways. For example ‘the truth re X.’

2. Changing the sender name

This is the manipulative tactic that had me hit the unsubscribe button so fast in the example above! But I’ve even heard of people changing the ‘from’ name to the subscribers name just to capture their attention.

Whaaat?! That doesn’t even make sense!

Stick to a sender name that makes sense – either your own name or your business name!

3. Making False Promises

You know those subject lines that promise to help you to achieve X and then actually they just talk about why X is important.

It feels like a waste of the subscribers precious time when emails don’t deliver on their promises.

4. Using False urgency

  • Countdown timers that auto-reset
  • Price increasing deadlines where the price doesn’t actually increase for several days
  • Suggesting there is some urgency when there is not

These are all examples of false urgency and they are going to leave a bitter taste in your subscribers mouth!

This does not mean that all urgency is icky.

In fact I am a BIG fan of using urgency – when it’s done ethically!

As someone who is neurodivergent and who procrastinates a lot, I personally need a reason to prioritise decisions for now. Otherwise I forget and miss out/never return.

True countdown timers that give your subscriber adequate thinking time to make a considered decision can be helpful.

Just make sure you give your subscriber enough notice and forewarning before the countdown ends.

5. Using aggressive language

‘If you don’t do this your business will fail’ 🤮

These are bro-marketing strategies to guilt or pressure you into doing something out of fear.

Fear marketing is never going to make your subscribers feel good. And I know if I don’t feel good when I read your emails, I’m going to be hunting for that unsubscribe button asap!

6. Disguising the unsubscribe button

Making the unsubscribe text tiny or a low contrast colour so that people can’t easily spot it and stay subscribed is going to get you in trouble fast.

When your subscribers can’t easily see that unsubscribe button, they’re going to report you as spam instead and trust me, that’ll have a much bigger impact on your deliverability scores!!

Apart from anything, do you really want to keep people on your list at all costs even if they’re going to ignore all your emails and just cost you money and negatively impact your deliverability scores?

No thanks!

Let them go gracefully! They’re just not your people!

7. Using pop ups in a spammy way

Now I love pop ups.

Used properly they can actually benefit your readers as well as boost your sales and grow your email list super fast!

But I see too many people using them the wrong way.

I’m talking about multiple ugly pop ups which cover the screen the second you click through to a page. They’re hard to shut down and make reading the page virtually impossible for mobile users.


Do yourself a favour and check out my course about how to use pop ups the RIGHT way: Next Level Pop Ups!

8. Disregarding unsubscribe requests

I certainly hope you’re not disregarding email unsubscribes. You could get in a lot of trouble!

But I’m also talking about opt out links for your promotions.

The ‘if you’re not interested in this promo let me know and I wont send you more emails about it’ type of opt outs.

They are really useful but only if you genuinely exclude them from your promo emails. Otherwise they are going to be clicking that unsubscribe from list button…

9. Making false claims

“I made 9 figures in my first 6 months’ type of claims have me clicking the unsubscribe button SO fast.

If you’re going to make big claims, be willing to offer the evidence to back them up!

If I ever find myself making big claims in my marketing, I always make sure I include some screenshots so that people know they can trust me.

10. Pretending you made a mistake

Now I will be the first to admit I’m clumsy and sometimes I genuinely make mistakes in my emails like miss out a link or make a typo in the link.

Sometimes I follow up with an ‘oops I made a mistake’ email with the correct link.

But sometimes you see people using these emails multiple times a week or using them in their launch emails.

Are you really telling me that after 6 months of creating your product, you haven’t tested every link for typos?!

Hmmmm, it starts to look suspicious.

I’m not saying don’t use these emails if you are genuine but please don’t make fake mistakes just for the extra clicks!

11. Pretending someone has bought something to get them to click

Subject lines such as ‘about your purchase’ when you haven’t bough something put your subscribers in a panic – did they buy it accidentally!

Usually these emails are actually referring to the fact they HAVEN’T bought yet.

It’s icky. Really icky.

Getting people to click out of panic is up there with trying to get them to take action out of fear! Gross.

12. Using False Hope

Subject lines like ‘You’ve made a sale’ can lead to disappointment. For a second you thought you were quids in only to open the email and it’s all about how you COULD feel if you made a sale. And of course they only way you’re going to make a sale is if you buy the thing they are promoting.

But if you are feeling deflated because of a false hope subject line, are you really in a buying mood?! Thought not!

In general when it comes to anything in marketing, ask yourself how you would feel on the receiving end. If you’d feel good then go ahead!

What works for one person doesn’t work for another so you’ll have to find your own way to do email marketing that feels good for you.

What are your personal pet peeves? Let us know in the comments!

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