Do you make these promotional email mistakes?

by Martin Reed on 10 January 2008 in Articles

Sending promotional emails

Marketing and promotion is important for every website – after all, if nobody knows about you, how can you expect people to find your site? One way to inform people about your website is through the use of individual, personalised emails – for example, if I find someone asking questions about building a forum I may drop them an email notifying them of the existence of this blog. Recently, I received a promotional email that was wrong from start to finish.

Example of a poor promotional email

The email I received is shown below:


I have been on the JustChat website and have found an excellent site where you can find out about upgrading the chat software to offer intergration, better features etc

Maybe worth looking at, its <URL REMOVED>
I believe forums can intergrate with live chat rooms :)

The sender of this email made the following mistakes:

  1. They failed to address me by my name – easily found with a little research.
  2. They do not appear to have looked at my website – Just Chat is not about chat software; it is an online community!
  3. Poor grammar and spelling – if you want to appear professional, this matters.
  4. They do not declare their interest in the site they are promoting – don’t make out you are promoting a site out of the good of your heart; be honest and people will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Ensure your site can close the sales process

Even if you sell nothing on your website, you are still looking for a sale. When you send a promotional email, you are selling the benefits of your site. If your promotional email is great, you will encourage the reader to visit your site. If your site stinks, the time you spent writing that email will have been wasted. Your website must be able to satisfy the expectations you have raised in your email and preferably exceed them.

When I checked out the website being advertised to me, I saw the following pages (click to enlarge):

Example of a poor website

Never publish an under construction website

You should never, ever publish a website before it is ready (I say ‘ready’ because as you should know, a website is never truly finished). A website with pages that simply state ‘Under Construction’ will frustrate a visitor and ensure they never visit your website again. Even worse than publishing a website before it is ready is promoting a site before it is ready. Why waste the time promoting a site that has no content?

Because I have not wanted to promote the website I am using as an example on this blog, I have not mentioned the site name or URL. I will tell you though, that basically this site was full of affiliate links to chat and message board software. You would think therefore, that it was in the publisher’s interest to at least offer working demos of each product!


After reading this article, I hope you have learnt the following:

  1. Never publish a website before it is ready
  2. Never promote a website before it is ready
  3. Do your research before sending promotional emails

I would also like to remind you all to never, ever send mass emails without permission. If your site gets a reputation of being associated with spam, you will find it extremely hard to shake off.

Your comments

Do you send promotional emails? Do you send them on an individual or mass-email basis? Have you made any of the mistakes I have mentioned? Share your thoughts and opinions on this article by leaving a comment below.

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Sue @ TameBay January 10, 2008 at 4:39 pm

They do not declare their interest in the site they are promoting – don’t make out you are promoting a site out of the good of your heart; be honest and people will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

This is my absolute pet hate. We get it a lot in blog comments, and IMO it is just spam, and gets deleted as such. Whereas people who contact us politely and say “I have something your readers might be interested in” quite often find themselves the recipients of free or nearly free publicity.

Michelle from the Coulee Region January 10, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Curious about your opinion of how many emails make spam? A while back, I attempted to rustle up some people for my forum by emailing 10 people on MySpace. I had gone through a few hundred profiles and picked 10 that I thought were people I would enjoy talking to. While some of the email was copy/pasted, I wrote something individual in each. Still, I was uneasy since I was sending unsolicited emails. Some people would say _any_ unsolicited email is spam. Others are more tolerant. Where do you think the line is?

Of course, I made the other mistake here… My site isn’t ready to publicize. It’s usable so I’m keeping it live, but needs some serious love and attention before I really push advertising it.


Martin Reed - Blog Author January 10, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Sue – I am in complete and utter agreement! Honesty is always the best policy.

Michelle – Spam is not about the quantity of emails you send, but how you do it. Sending unsolicited emails without permission is spam – your example of contacting members on MySpace is something I would consider to be spamming.

I think it is fine to contact other webmasters if you have a site or service that you think will benefit them – as long as you personalise the email and explain why you are contacting them on an individual basis.

If I see someone post in a forum asking for help in building an online community, I will drop them a polite message advising them of my blog. I will also tell them I am contacting them in response to their post. I do not consider this type of approach to be spamming as I am helping someone out in response to a request for help.

It is definitely a fine line – if you are ever in any doubt, then you shouldn’t send the email.

Michelle from the Coulee Region January 10, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Yeah, it’s a fine line indeed. Some, I guess you included, would call it spam, some not. I didn’t think it was since I was emailing people to ask them to come talk to me, not to sell anything. I guess of the 10 emails I sent, one wasn’t spam because the person said on their profile they wanted to find people to talk to so it was in response to a request. ;)

At any rate, my response was 8 ignores, 1 came to check but didn’t stay, and 1 stuck around and we’ve had some nice conversations. So I don’t regret sending the emails but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. In this day of being innudated with emails people are quick to label any email they didn’t ask for as spam and I think the risk of pissing someone off is just too high.

Thanks for the thoughts.


Dallas Liposuction January 10, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Email marketing is so much tougher than it use to be. Thank you spammers. I used to be able to send an email out to my subscriber list and get a very nice response (sales). Not the story anymore.

David Anderson January 11, 2008 at 2:11 am

Those kinds of email are just spams! If you want to have an effective promotional email you should have excellent content and you have to make it personalized. Including your complete name, company’s name and other important information and also you should address it the person’s complete name. Or else it will be just ignored and sent to trash!

onlinework January 11, 2008 at 4:07 am

Nowadays even with permission, sending mass emails messages it is a waste of time. A high percentage of messages never reach its destination due to the web of filters at the recipient end deployed to avoid spam. Javier.

Amish Made Furniture January 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

No, I do not send such mails nor do I intend to start. I am entire agreement with you that what you received is not worth spending any time on. You had the patience to take it and make a very nice blog out of it as a tutorial. I would have simply deleted it and not given it a second thought.

Smiley January 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

I haven’t sent unsolicited mail ever since I read your first article about it. That was quite a while back, forgot the title now.

It seemed to be common practice to send e-mails to registered forum members. I only send monthly newsletters to people who sign up now.

When people enquire about something via the contact form I do sneak in a little promotional sentence or two about other parts of the site when replying to them but that’s just about it. I’d never just go around e-mailing people at random.

Michelle from the Coulee Region January 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Yeah, Dallas, the spammers really ruined things. I guess the days when you could make friends by email are long gone. There are a lot of good things about today’s internet but sometimes I miss the old days.


Online Money January 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I think email marketing is the best way to promote your products or affiliate products but you should be honest on your part about that product and you must be professional too, as you said in the above article you should avoid these mistakes like poor grammar, not appearing professional, etc.

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 12, 2008 at 12:32 am

Dallas – As long as you are sending promotional emails that are relevant and useful to the people you are sending them to (and you have permission to do so), there is no reason why it cannot be effective.

David – You are spot on! Legitimacy is key; you cannot expect someone to take you seriously if you are not genuine enough to display clear information about who you are and why you are contacting the recipient. Customisation and personalisation is also extremely important.

Javier – Spam filters can sometimes be a problem when it comes to legitimate emails. If you are sending genuine emails to opt-in subscribers this should be less of a problem – especially if you encourage them to add your domain name to their list of approved senders.

Ramana – Normally I wouldn’t have given the email any thought, but in this case it made a great example to be used as a blog article!

Smiley – You have a good policy, which will only help strengthen both you and your site’s reputation.

Michelle – You’re right; things online change, and we all need to adapt to these changes. Unfortunately everyone should be suspicious when receiving emails from people they do not know, and I can’t see this ever changing.

Online Money – Honesty and professionalism; I couldn’t agree more. Even more important though, is trust and permission!

Bingo Online January 14, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Yes, once i got the URL wrong and it was a major disaster, i had to apologize to every single person that i sent it too..

maybe it was my promotional gimmick :D or i could have turn it into one back then..

Eva White January 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

I receive so many such junk mails, It is really annoying in the middle of a working day to receive such mails, and after you have opened and started reading them do you realize that you wasted that 10 mins trying to figure out what the mail says and wasted time over them.

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Bingo – Oops! It just goes to show how important it is to proofread; especially when sending the same message to a large number of people!

Eva – You’re right, and that is why it is essential to only send emails to those who have given their permission for you to do so, and to keep your messages concise and to the point!

Franky September 9, 2008 at 1:53 pm

I use email marketing very successfully and it’s successful because I don’t spam and I undserstand the difference between spam and considerate email marketing.

My golden rules are :
1. Only mail to past customers.
2. Only mail people who have had a positive experience with your business
3. Only mail four to six times a year.
4. Always delete from list when requested and confirm immediately.
5. Always mail on product purchasing history, if your customer purchased golf balls
only send golfing emails.

Clearly these rules mean you have a small list and you never over mail, but that’s good email marketing and everything spam is not. It takes time, but you do get good results after a about a year, remember building a solid profitable business takes time.

James October 3, 2008 at 2:44 pm

I have started to use email marketing and have found good results – again nothing Spammy, all from my database and only once or twice a month with good ideas.
Not very many unsubscribe – 10 or so out of several thousand so the rejection is pretty low……

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Franky – I am glad to hear it! Thanks for sharing your policy with us – it is a good example of how to correctly market through email.

James – Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Sounds like you are on the right track!

Jeff November 7, 2008 at 7:57 am

Personalization + Landing Page Optimization combo is the key to success if there is a specific reason for the target audience to recieve the email.

Don’t think that every one in the world who has an email must recieve an email about your wonderful outstanding product, be a Critic of your self.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Jeff – ‘Be a critic of yourself’; a great point. Sometimes it can be hard to step back and honestly critique something you have worked hard on. At times like these, you should ask for constructive feedback from people you trust.

Lilian Yeng February 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm

One of the companies that occasionally provides me with online services sends me newsletters. So here is what I like: the newsletters come on a regular basis – about once a month meaning they don’t bother you too much. They are always personalized, and written (well, at least signed) by the company’s owner, which gives it a real personal touch. They are informative and always offer some innovations in the already existing services, implying that the company stays on top of progress and is quick to adept and spread the word. A good example of something that really works as a promotional tool.

Jean Martin March 12, 2010 at 6:29 am

Your article is great!
During creating and sending email campaigns I’m trying to avoid the following mistakes: opt-in emailing list absence, ineffective “from” and “subject” lines, not calling to action, heavy design, long email, absence of unsubscribe link, sending just promotional emails and grammar errors, omissions, misspelled words, not working links in email content.