Avoid these email mistakes
5 min read

Avoid these email mistakes

Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 3,744 creators get better at content creation and strategy in less than 5 minutes.

This week’s episode is sponsored by Demandbase: Inject Account Intelligence into every step of your buyer journey — through advertising, account-based experience, and sales intelligence.

I’ve sent thousands of sales  and millions of marketing emails in my career.

It took A LOT of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t to be successful.

(Of all the things they teach us in school, writing emails doesn’t make the list. But hey, at least I know Pythagorean's theorem!)

But here’s the thing: most emails fail because they are filled with simple copywriting mistakes.

These errors prevent you from grabbing attention and converting it into action — the ultimate goal of your email.

As a result, Readers click unsubscribe, mark as spam, or reply “STOP!”.

That’s why in the next four minutes you’re going to learn the fundamentals of writing extremely relevant and compelling emails. Specifically:  

  • The three most harmful email writing mistakes
  • Tactical steps for avoiding these mistakes in your writing
  • Fundamentals for writing compelling emails every time (plus 10 examples to inspire)

If you follow this advice, you’ll learn how to write irresistible emails that you can use to fuel your growth: book sales meetings, improve engagement, increase content downloads, drive event registrants, etc.

In short, you’ll get better results with less work.

Let’s ride.

Mistake #1: Weak hooks

Your first sentence has one job: propel your reader to read your second sentence.

This requires writing a strong hook — an opening statement that grabs attention.  

Most emails are either missing a hook entirely or they’re too weak to be effective.

Common mistake #1: Apologizing  

Openings like this weaken everything that follows because it lacks conviction.  

If you have a legit reason to reach out — ie, you’re genuinely helping them improve their life or avoid loss — then you should be 100% confident in reaching out. No need to soften it with an apology.

Common mistake #2: Focusing on yourself

You Reader does not care about you or your product… yet.

Guess what they do care about? Themselves! It’s all good, we all operate on self interest. That’s why every email needs to immediately and clearly convey, What’s in it for me?

To write a compelling hook, focus on relevance:

Personal interest:

-I just read your most recent article on The Content Strategy Reeder — great stuff.

-Your recent podcast interview stopped me in my tracks (well, my run).

Present a problem:

-A recent report from XYZ showed that the cost of a bad hire is upwards of $500K per person.

-Companies are both paying top dollar for new talent while others are having massive layoffs — here’s what that means for you:

Professional focus:

-It looks like you were at the Global Conference for Sales Leaders in Seattle last week, so I imagine coaching and development is at the  top of your priority list.

-It seems like you’re also a student of The Challenger Sale (saw you just read it for the third time!).

The next part is explaining why you’re reaching out.  Which leads us to our next email misstep…

Mistake #2: Missing a trigger

The trigger is the reason you’re reaching out to this specific person at this specific time. (Also known as a “why you, why now” framework).

It’s the connective tissue that connects their interest (your hook) with your offer (your product/service/content).

Without this, emails feel disjointed, unclear, and uninteresting. Bad attributes for driving action.

You can create the “connective tissue” by using the bolded phrases below, then filling in the blank pending on your offer:

For Sales: I’m reaching out because… executives use our platform to roll out career development plans that keep employees engaged and increase productivity.

For Marketing: That’s why… we’re sharing our newest research on employee retention, The Reality of Sales Talent Report.

From here, you fill in your value prop, drop the right CTA, and you’re done-zo.

But there’s one more email pitfall that goes undetected…

Mistake #3: Too many “I Sentences”

“I sentences” are sentences that start with “I.”

I wanted…
I noticed…
I saw…

These are well intended, but they cause your email to read like it’s all about you (the Sender), but it should be all about them (the Reader).

Luckily, rephrasing these is simple: Identify all “I Sentences” and swap them for “You sentences.”

Before: I am hoping to pick your brain to learn how we can help you host world class events.  

After: If you’re focused on hosting world-class events and “wow-ing” your audience, you’ll see immediate results with [product/service].

Note: You aren’t on a witch hunt to remove all “I” pronouns from your writing, just be sure they don’t start too many sentences.

Before you hit Send, count how many sentences start with “I”. My rule of thumb: limit it to two.

An example to inspire you

I got this email from a current vendor who wants to upsell me. It’s the best sales email I’ve received in a loooong time (and it follows all the advice we covered today!). Hopefully it’ll inspire your next email:

Well friggin’ done.

TL,DR (Too Long, Devin Reed)

If you want to write effective emails…

  1. Focus on your Reader’s interests to create a strong hook
  2. Create a relevant trigger that includes “connective tissue”
  3. Limit your “I sentences”

Add these to your email game and you’ll break through the noise, boost your results, and win more from your inbox. (Or I suppose, your outbox).

Holler at you next Saturday,

If you liked this post…

You'll really dig Demandbase’s Summer in Sales event. I'll be there speaking on a panel with Morgan J. Ingram, Alexine Mudawar, and Lyn Powers to share tactics that will immediately boost your productivity and double your income.

Come hang if you want to learn…

  • Strategies and tactics for grabbing and keeping your buyer’s attention
  • How to create irresistible messaging that drives buyers to act now
  • 5 tips that will immediately increase your productivity

It’s goin’ down Tuesday, June at 8th at 9am PST. You can access this 1-hour event, for free, here: Save your spot.


Did you like today’s episode of CSR? If so, be honored if you shared this link with your friends or on LinkedIn. Here’s an example from Mike Wolber for inspiration.