To all keyholders of the company spam cannon, before causing immense collateral damage by firing off emails that don’t fit with the lovely idea of your brand, follow these ten pointers and, with me at least, you’ll be guaranteed a pair of eyes.

Give me whitespace and time to think

My eyes often refuse to work. They close on the world of advertising and allow me to walk into the middle of roads without realising it. 

Quora’s welcome email is an industrial eye-wash station and not only left me opthalmically refreshed, but gave me the most important information, and nought else.

Give me welcome emails (if you have to) and make sure their content is well-defined

Don’t send me continuous wishy-washy ‘your account’ emails, telling me how great your services are. I ain’t got the time, MAN.

Do like the FT and make each of your welcome mails distinctive. You can see from my inbox, the FT firstly welcomes me (manners); secondly, promotes its reports; thirdly, introduces market data services; fourthly, its blogs and multimedia; fifthly, its lifestyle section. 

Give me your digits

I’ve opened your email, you’ve interested me with your content, but I don’t want to book online because I’m superstitious and will only buy something from men called Gareth. So do like and give me a prominent phone number.

Give me humanity

The same screenshot from Lastminute’s email shows a quirky piece of copy – ‘Has this email gone a bit Picasso’ – where usually a purely functional piece of copy (‘Can’t see this email?’) resides.

OK, it might remind you of the person who thinks they’re crazy at a party, but it’s widened my demoralised-Friday-afternoon slits-for-eyes ever so slightly.

Give me the opportunity to subscribe again??

A cute call to action from The New Statesman – ‘If you were forwarded this email by a colleague, click here to subscribe’.

I can’t prove this was reverse psychology, but it certainly made me think about forwarding this email to a colleague. Clever stuff…..maybe.

Give me love, with just your words

I am an RA member. RA knows this, and sends me nice exclusive(ish) announcements. The copy is the warming thing here – ‘as a valued Friend of the RA, we wanted to make sure you were one of the first to know about it’.

Polite and gentlemanly language should always win out.

Give me something personal

If you know lots about me, don’t just keep it in your database and look at it, creepily, every now and again. Show me you know about me, and I will think of you as a friend. Trainline doing this very well below.

Give me creative you’ve taken a chance on

Trainline again – they know I haven’t booked a hotel with them ever, but they can’t possibly know if I sleep on couches or not. So what, go for it, accuse me of doing so, raise a smile, lead me into luxury.

Give me something to consume

Not the best emails from wegottickets, but inspired inclusion of a YouTube video of one of the touring bands. Try before you buy; I’m not going to buy tickets if I’ve never listened to a band before. Thanks.


Give me some content and not more sales crapola

I’ve opened your email again! Now mercifully please let the ribbon run out of your typewriter of spiel.

Yes, the below is a specifically educational email from Google Analytics, who know I already use their product (ish), but admire the way they get straight down to business and give me some useful content, instead of bleaching my retinas with brand hyperbole.

Give me a nice sidebar, with simple icons, that wouldn’t look out of place on your website, and allow me to find things

This from the RHS of the Barbican’s emails.


It’s nice because rather than overloading me with events I’m not interested in, I’m tempted to explore on my own through a link to the larger event calendar.

The ‘eat and drink’, ‘amend details & preferences’, ‘membership and ‘social networks’ links are all discoverable but not in your face. The use of simple icons prevents competing designs on my time from too many copy-heavy areas of the mail pane.

Email marketers and spam-cannon primers, let me know your best tips below.