This cold-call email got my attention … for the wrong reasons.

This cold-call email got my attention … for the wrong reasons.

I received an unsolicited email that sent me on a goose chase trying to figure it out, including scrolling past adult video retail sites search results to find my answers. If this sounds like a disaster in email marketing, you are correct.

Insert confused computer user clip art here.
Insert confused computer user clip art here.

As an Interactive Project Manager, I know you’ve only got one chance to get it right when delivering a message. The hardest thing to do when writing content is to be direct, clear and easy to read.

I also have to measure my techno jargon babble when working with clients, stakeholders, sponsors and moms who don’t share my enthusiasm for All Things Tech.

I'm sorry what does this email mean?
I’m sorry what does this email mean?

So this email I’m going to share is, by my estimation, how NOT to introduce a potential client to a new product or service.

Here we go:

Dear Rick Dolishny Representative,

First of all, get our mail form in order. Most of us don’t have the name brand recognition of Walt Disney. Or this is just a bad mistake.

I wanted to follow up on the email I sent a few weeks ago. I wanted to talk to someone about how ### can increase your AOV and increase overall lift by changing customer behavior and influence overall spending habits.

Whoa, whoa, whoa , whoa. There’s so much wrong with this opening line I had to stop the presses. First of all, the trick about ‘following up on an old email’ is really stale, even if there was an email. If I wanted to hear more from you, I’d let you know. In my case, after scanning my inbox and trash, I had not indeed received any email from you.

Never, never, never use acronyms right off the top without letting the reader know what they mean. I didn’t know what AOV stood for until I looked it up,  and even then I can only guess that it means Average Order Value. But that’s of course scrolling past the URLs for Adult Only Video stores. Not cool on so many levels. (sidenote: is AOV still in business?)

### enables you to offer universal rewards to customers who execute the targeted goal. These incentive offerings have high perceived value for the customers with low actual costs to you.

High value, low cost. Marketing 101, I’ll give it a pass. It’s a rewards program of some sort.  But did a robot write this?

As an example, one of our customers, a top 125 Internet Retailer, shared results from their latest campaign. To give you a baseline, they typically offer a discount of $10 if the customer spends at least $100. Partnering with ### and spending a similar amount, they were able offer a $100 gift certificate if customers spent that same $100. They saw their AOV increase from $130 to over $200.

Whoa! Stop right there. After hitting me with the AOVs and ‘overall lift’ you go in for the double tap and really make me feel like an idiot. I didn’t ask for more stats, so now I feel really stupid. And Top 125 is kinda lame. Is it top 100 or not? I can only think of a few internet retailers where I would actually spend real money, so top 125 doesn’t impress me. In fact, it makes me think of Amazon,  Indigo or Apple.

### technology ensured these customers instantly received their reward by email or text and also provided the merchant with direct access to an online analytics dashboard displaying real-time transaction data.

This is perhaps just a personal observation, but anyone referring to a dashboard in any kind of pitch comes across as a douchebag.


We have partnered with multiple brand name reward providers including Fandango, ProFlowers,,,, Native Remedies and many others.

I would like to see if you have some time for a quick follow up call sometime this week or if you want, you can sign up directly here and we’ll have you set up with several free rewards instantly.

Feel free to check us out …

Thanks, ###

—– VP of Business Development

Insert 'hit any key where's the any key' here.
Insert ‘hit any key where’s the any key’ joke here.

Email Done Wrong

Whew. I was bewildered and spent some time on the site and think I got it figured out. They are some sort of loyalty program. But holy smokes, this is about the worst calling card I’ve ever read. Let this be a lesson to anyone pitching a new product or service.

  • Be clear right off the top.
  • State a problem, then a solution.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • If you’re pitching something new consider a demo video or graphics.


Email marketing needs to be easy and clear. Don’t make me work. Here’s some more reading on the subject.