Seven Ways a Single Marketing Email Can Destroy Your Relationship With Customers

by | Feb 13, 2014 | Writing Matters Blog | 5 comments

I love to quilt. It’s my hobby. And like most hobbyists, I love to shop. (Sometimes I love shopping for quilt stuff more than making quilts.) My favorite quilt shop is about 10 miles from my home. Over the last five years, when many fabric stores have gone out of business, my favorite quilt shop is thriving: more classes, more fabrics, more equipment… and more marketing.

So that’s why I am really sad to receive this “Did we miss your birthday?” email from the shop. It’s a primer on email blunders. If you want to convince loyal customers to block you from sending them emails and to shop elsewhere, just follow the quilt shop’s lead.

Here’s the email:


Here’s how the quilt shop violated seven basic principles of email marketing:

1. Use the From name to identify your company. This email is from “Kat Martinez.” Am I supposed to know who that is? Any name I don’t recognize sounds spammy and creepy. “Kat Martinez” sounds as bad as the other spammers my filter’s already caught: “BabyComeBack,” “Harold Cain,” “Rosey Glow,” and “The Fixer.”

2. Fill in the To name. This comes across as classic spray-and-pray email marketing. Without my name in the To line, I can tell this company doesn’t know who I am. I’m not even a complete listing in their customer database, though I’ve spent $$$ at the shop and willingly shared my email address with them in the past.

3. Make an offer that doesn’t cost me personal info. Don’t ask about my birthday. These days, I’m so hinky about compromising my privacy that I’m denying I have a birth date at all.

4. Make a specific offer. Why do you want my birthday, anyway? How are you going to celebrate? There’s no way I’m giving you personal information unless I understand what you’re going to do with it and how I will gain.  And why would you ask me if you’ve missed my birthday when I’ve never shared with you? How is a Birthday Wish different from a birthday wish? What’s with the initial caps?

5. Focus the email on a single specific offer. After you’ve confused me about the Birthday Wish, you introduce another offer altogether. What is the Wish List “program”? How is it a program? Isn’t it just a list? A gift registry? If it were a program of some type, wouldn’t it include some incentives or discounts? Why are you making things so complicated?

6. Make it possible to complete a simple task online. Why on earth would I want to print the Wish List form, fill it out by hand then drive to the store to drop it off? Surely this form could be completed online. Surely it could be a fillable PDF, which I could email to you. SURELY WE COULD PRETEND IT’S THE 1990s AND I COULD FAX IT TO YOU. Do I really have to drive on over and drop it off?

7. Include your visual branding in all marketing. I recognize this store’s logo. I feel just a little bit happy when I see the logo because it reminds me of the expert help I’ve received in the store and the beautiful projects I’ve made. If this email comes from them, where’s the logo? Why wouldn’t they want to tap into all those good feelings?

This quilt shop isn’t a mom-and-pop operation. It’s a growing business with a loyal customer base. Whoever is doing the shop’s marketing needs to write emails that don’t mystify customers and compromise their relationship with the store. After all, your marketing isn’t supposed to cost you business!

Tags: E-mail, Marketing


  1. Ah, Leslie,
    (There, I used your name!) Do these guys a favor and tell them how they offended you (calmly). This is probably their first try at personalized direct marketing. Add, too, that when you fill out your wish list ON THE E-FORM, you would like to get notification from them that your wish item is on sale. That would be a bonus. If they then give you a brush off, then use your eraser and erase that store name from your memory — unless they are absolutely the primo store in town and you want to continue to shop there.
    With affection,
    Sue, a fellow quilter (and purchaser of fine quilt goods that sit around so I can admire my acquisitions and dream of lovely quilts made by my hand)
    P. S. Some day, over a latte, I’ll tell you how I got the brushoff at Kohls when I complained that I couldn’t get my wheel chair through some of their isles. They graciously told me that they complied with federal and state law. HAHAHAHA. That really made me love them more, as you can imagine.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sue R! I can’t believe what happened to you at Kohl’s. How stupid can they be? I hope you’ve withheld your $$$ from them permanently.

    I am still pondering what to do about sharing my blog post with the quilt shop. I think I am going to share it with my quilting buddy Brenda who shops there even more than I do. She may even know “Kat” personally. I’ll keep you posted…

  3. Hinkey? A new word I’ll use soon.

    And, they should give you 10% off a purchase during your birthday month. That would make the email mucho better, despite the shortcomings you rightly identified.

  4. that would be hinky…

  5. I agree, Colleen, they should give me 10% off. Your opinion gets two thumbs up from me. It makes me feel trusting (the opposite of hinky).

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