5 Bad Email Practices to Avoid in 2023

It’s fair to say that none of us in email marketing are in it to annoy our subscribers with our email newsletters. We have all read articles about why subscribers leave your email program. This article about five bad email practices to avoid in 2023 is no exception.

In addition to frequency and lack of personalization in emails, some things just flat-out drive people nuts. They may be things that you don’t intentionally do, but they are things nonetheless.

I hope you will take inventory of your program and see if these five things impact your engagement in any way.

5 Bad Email Practices to Avoid in 2023 infographic


Imagine you have been invited to a fabulous party where tons of exciting guests will attend, the food will likely be excellent, and the atmosphere will be epic. This party will be talked about for years and might even make the cover of some famous magazine.

In theory, this is how you and the entire marketing department should think about your email program, both short and long term.

Now, imagine getting to the front door and finding the teeny tiny doorbell on the ground near a dirt pile. Once inside the house, you have to be subjected to a rapid virus test after navigating a maze of hallways, only to find a pen and paper on the kitchen table.

You are asked to write down your home address and birthday and what types of drinks and food you like to eat so that the party organizer can customize your experience for the party. You fill out the sheet, and then someone comes up to you, shakes your hand, says welcome to the party, and pushes you into the party room, which is packed with people, has a long line for drinks, the food table is small, and the music is turned up so loud, you can barely think, let alone converse.

In a parallel email universe, this is sometimes the experience subscribers have when they sign up for brands’ email—lots of hype with a less-than-ideal reality.

Check out some more bad habits like… if you are sending cold emails with no recipient name.

This is taking forever

Source: Giphy

The lead magnet email signups for your email program should reflect your brand and not be arduous, only to be disappointed when they arrive. Think like a subscriber and ensure your process/house is in order.


We live in a fast-paced world, but when it comes to email, not everyone wants to be rushed or at least be messaged that everything is always urgent with exclamation points! Not everything is a dumpster fire or their “last chance” to save, so consistently messaging using URGENCY in your subject lines and inside your creative can lead to subscriber atrophy and frustration.


Source: Giphy


Use urgency in your program when you have to, not as a default. Your subscribers will thank you over time.


Personalization at many levels can propel your program forward and offer a more rewarding experience. However, even at the beginning of the email relationship, using personalization could drive some people crazy.

Addressing me by my first and last name in the subject line or body copy of the first email or two is a clear robotic indicator that might turn people off. Imagine that same party you are at, where the host or a group of people from the party address you as Mrs. XXX XXX during a casual conversation. Not only is it annoying, but rather creepy as well.

I don't know you Meme

Source: Giphy


Take inventory of when and where you inject personalization into your email program and ask yourself if it’s too much.


Once upon a time, I signed up for an email program with an extensive and intuitive preference and a subscription center that was best in class. I was super excited to receive my first of two chosen newsletters not only for the content and value it would provide to me, but the email geek in me raved about just how pleasant it was to sign up for these two email programs.

Thirty-four emails in thirty days went by, I gave up and unsubscribed. Over 80% of the email received in the first thirty days were content/newsletters that I never opted-in for. Even though I had enjoyed the content in the two newsletters I chose, the email volume was too much, and they never honored my preferences.

I Can't It's Too Much Meme The Office

Source: Giphy

Honor their preferences and don’t give in to other parts of the organization to overwhelm the subscriber, especially during the first few weeks of the relationship.


Assuming you decided to stay at the party from #1 above, you now have the urge to use the restroom. You spend time walking around the house, opening doors, and asking people where the toilet is, and no one can help you.

Then by some miracle, you find the hidden door in the wall, which magically opens up to the bathroom that is flooded and the toilets missing.

When things are hard to find and then don’t work for your subscribers, that experience is remembered and the conversion rate suffers.

It's Broken Meme

Source: Giphy

If you hide your unsubscribe in 2pt font, bury it in your legalese or use a slightly lighter shade to display it inside your email, you delay the inevitable. Finally, make sure that you are clear when they unsubscribe what they are doing and don’t complicate it.


We have all made mistakes in our careers that might have driven our subscribers crazy, but in today’s hyper-sensitive and highly critical internet user, let’s ensure that we don’t willingly do so.