How Mind-Numbing Emails Hurt Your Brand

I’ve come up with a marketing take on the old camp song, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” after today. It’s called “99 Black Friday Emails In My Inbox.”

Every year at this time, we get subjected to the email marketing version of this sing along as every company on the planet churns out endlessly repetitive, capitalized and exclamation point-filled headlines announcing their short windows of opportunity for you, the consumer, to take advantage of their once in a lifetime Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Don’t be surprised if your readers revolt.

Black Friday sale tag

Why Creativity Is Central To The Success Of Your Email

While it’s true that the ultimate goal of email marketing is to sell your product, service, or technology, your brand undermines its credibility and gets captured in countless spam folders by skipping over the relationship building and information sharing part of the sales funnel.

In our work with B2B cleantech companies, this is especially crucial because the sales cycles are often 18-24 months long. There is no “Don’t Miss This One Day Sale Of The Year!!!!” missive.

The Cleantech Company Black Friday Email Marketing Mistake

OK, so your climate-focused mission isn’t going to make or break its year the day after Thanksgiving, yet cleantech companies have their own cringeworthy version of the Black Friday email headline. It’s called “August Newsletter.”


This is what’s known in my business as ‘digital melatonin.’ No one (except possibly your largest funder to see how you’re wasting their money) is going to want to open that email, let alone read its contents. As a result, you missed an opportunity to foster a stronger bond with your audience.

Yours is just another email wasting my time as a recipient, and it negatively impacts my association with your brand.

 Before hitting the send button, ask yourself, ‘Will this newsletter light up your readers’ neurotransmitters?’

Email Marketing Metrics

According to a large study by MailChimp, email open rates vary from about 20%-25%, and that’s part of a select group of people who’ve given you permission to email them. That means 75%-80% of recipients are just deleting your crafted missive sight unseen or your email is getting trapped in a spam folder that either doesn’t recognize the recipient has given you permission to email them or the algorithm thinks you belong in the same place as Veruca Salt.


With open rates that low, why would you put another barrier between you and your audience with a boring headline?

About half of readers open an email based on the subject line alone, and nearly two-thirds say they open an email based on who it’s from.

What Do Email Openers Read?

OK. So they know who you are and care about your solution for humanity. Now what?

Consistent with their training in science and engineering, cleantech companies often send out emails to their subscribers that are long and laden with details on where they spoke, progress they’ve made, and team members they’ve hired. And while these are more than minor accomplishments, it’s not exactly the stuff that triggers a dopamine release for your readers.

In order to keep your audience reading, they have to start reading. That means your subject line and the first line of your email are the most important. For all of the editing and nitpicking that typically go on between the marketing staff and the C-Suite before sending an email, preciously little of it is spent on crafting a compelling opening, which is exactly the opposite of what should happen.

Like peanut butter and jelly, your subject line and first line belong together. They set the table for what’s to follow. First impressions are everything, and nowhere is that truer than with email communications.

“The job of every line in your email is to make people want to read the next line.”

A free resource you can use to help you craft better email headlines can be found at Enter your headline, and it will evaluate several metrics in your copy and give you feedback on a 0-100 scale. Here’s what it showed for the headline of this email.

My email headline for this post scored 100 out of a possible 100 points on

Your Email Should Stick To A Single Topic

In theater and improv, “Yes…and” is taught as a way to help draw in others on stage so they too can become part of the action. In email marketing “yes…and” is deadly.

Subscribers spend an average of 51 seconds reading an email after opening it (that number shrinks every year), and only 19 percent will read through to the bottom.

Whether the goal for your email is a call to action or to share a scientific breakthrough, adding additional topics only serves to cloud the readers’ minds. The more bullet points you add the more likely it is to be seen as a Rorschach ink blot, open to the reader’s interpretation rather leaving them with a clear takeaway.

Is Your Email Consistent With Your Brand?

An email sent from your company is a reflection of the company’s brand just as surely as every other communications touchpoint. If your brand story leans on its uniqueness (as it should) a bland or conformist email undermines your premise just as much as delivering a boring slide presentation that rambles on with nothing to tie it together.

Be Kind To Your Readers

Luckily, Black Friday comes only once each year because peoples’ inboxes are stretched more than their waistlines during the holidays. But whether it’s March or November, try not to stretch your subscribers’ patience with the same headline you used last month…and the month before that, because eventually, nobody cares how many bottles of beer are left on the wall when they all look alike.

CleanTech Focus