5 Deadly Email Mistakes That Will Lose You Clients

I think we can all agree that no one is secretly praying to the email gods to bestow more messages to their inboxes. Your future clients aren’t doing late-night tribal dances to bring more prosperity unto their Gmail accounts. Even with all the computers, tablets, Smartphones and Apple Watches available, your prospects can’t achieve Inbox Zero as it is—they don’t need MORE email.

But there you are, strategically sending out your weekly email newsletter, hoping beyond hope that your subscribers will not just read it, but actually care what you have to say (and maybe…just maybe…sign up to become your next client).

Why are we constantly sending out marketing emails to our lists when no one wants more email? Are we totally crazy? Are we gluttons for time wasters? Are we like sheep blindly following the Internet Marketing Shepard who told us that this strategy would work?

No. In fact, we’re doing email marketing because it actually IS quite an effective marketing tool to grow your business IF YOU DO IT RIGHT. On the other hand, if you do it wrong, you will lose prospects with one simple click of the unsubscribe button. But what does doing it “right” or “wrong” look like? Well, let’s see:

  • RIGHT = value-packed, content-rich, personable, and consistent
  • WRONG = mediocre, boring, vague, salesy

To demonstrate right vs. wrong, I want to dissect a “wrong” email that I recently received. Last week, I was scrolling through my overflowing inbox, when I saw an email from a woman I hadn’t seen in a long time. I don’t recall ever having received an email from this woman since we had coffee over three years ago, so I was curious. I opened it and pasted below the email copy. (Note: I removed the location and name information because really like the sender and I’m not attempting to point a finger at her personally):

Non-Awesome Email Example:

Dear Friends & Students,
Hello! I am writing to let you know about the upcoming 'Awaken Your
Spine' Series that I will be teaching at [LOCATION] on Friday
mornings ([11:30]-12:45pm) this Spring. [LOCATION] is a brand new space
located at [INTERSECTION] (right across from Harris Teeter), born from the great [NAME]'s ongoing bodywork & integrative practice. It
is a space that carries a deep intention and I am feeling very
fortunate to be part of the project.

The Spine Series will run for 7-weeks, May 7-June 19, and will then
continue as an ongoing class. The aim is for the Series/class to be
small enough for everyone to receive lots of personal attention. So
please let me know if you are interested and I will send you a pretty
flyer and put you on the list! :)
Thank you all for your time & I hope to see you soon!


Awakening Your Spine
Fridays, [11:30]-12:45pm: May 7- June 19
Sign up at: [WEBSITE] AND let me know!


I started to scroll down to find the unsubscribe button—to save my inbox from future mediocrity—but I stopped. This is a perfect knee-slapping example of what business owners and coaches like us SHOULD NOT do when it comes to emailing your list.

Let me break down the 5 deadly email mistakes that the sender made in this email:

MISTAKE #1: Salutation

Umm…hello? I have a name and it’s not “friend” or “student.” It’s Laurel. Every email service out there now lets you personalize your salutation (e.g. “Dear Laurel”), so use those personalizations like it’s your religion.

MISTAKE #2: Bad copy

After reading this email, I know when and where the class is taking place and for how long, but there’s one critical piece of information missing…WHAT THE HELL IS AN “AWAKEN YOUR SPINE” CLASS??? Is my spine currently taking a nap? Does it need a spiritual revival? Why do I need lots of personal attention?? I have no idea.

If you’re inviting your email subscribers to enroll in something (e.g. a workshop, webinar, program, coaching, etc.), the who/what/when/where details are helpful but won’t land you a single client. You have to tell people WHY they should sign up/enroll/give you money.

For instance, she could have written something like, “The Awaken Your Spine class is designed for you to:

  • Learn the 5 best stretches to increase your flexibility for years to come
  • Find out how to decrease back pain through releasing tension in your spine
  • Gain more energy by releasing toxins and balancing your chakras
  • Discover the secrets to your best sleep ever through proven deep breathing practices”

Now we’re getting somewhere! (Read this article to go more in-depth on the subject.)

Again, I have NO IDEA what happens in an Awaken Your Spine class, but I might sign up if she told me the class would help my thirty-something body loosen up a little so my muscles wouldn’t creak like an eighty-year-old. Just sayin’.

Telepathy is not a strategy. Our clients can’t mind meld with us to figure out what’s going on and why they should care. When you’re sending out an email to your subscribers, always answer these questions:

  1. What will your workshop/webinar/program/coaching/blog post/advice DO FOR THEM?
  2. What problem of theirs will it solve?
  3. Why should they care?

MISTAKE #3: Confusing call-to-action

In every email you send to your subscribers, you should have ONE call-to-action. Not two or three (or zero), just one. You can repeat your call-to-action multiple times, but make sure it’s crystal clear what’s the ONE next step is that you’re asking people to take.

In this email, the first call-to-action is: “So please let me know if you are interested and I will send you a pretty flyer and put you on the list!”

The 2nd call-to-action is: “Sign up at: [WEBSITE] AND let me know!”

These two call-to-actions seem similar, but as the reader, I’m confused what to do next if I want to sign up. Do I reply to this email and tell her I’m interested? Does the flyer have more information?Does “putting me on the list” mean I’m committed to it? If I am committed, is there a charge involved? Or do I visit the website and sign up online?

Well, I decided to visit the website and here’s the kicker… THERE’S NOTHING ON THERE about the class. Zip. Nada.

If you leave your subscribers guessing what to do next, they won’t take any action. So before you send another email to your list, ask yourself: Does my call-to-action in this email lead them by the hand and precisely tell them exactly what to do next?

If so, continue. If not, rethink it.

MISTAKE #4: Consistency

We all have that one friend who only calls us up when they need something. And how likely is it that you jump for joy when you see their name on your caller ID? Not likely. It’s more like, “Oh no. What does she want this time?”

You know what I eventually do to those types of friends? Unsubscribe, baby. I’ve got to have a two-sided relationship with someone to make the friendship last … and this is the same when it comes to your email list. People will unsubscribe if you only email them when you want them to buy something from you. Why? Because it’s a pretty selfish approach to business. It sends the message, “I only care about you when I need you to do something for me.”

That’s what is happening with the Awaken Your Spine woman. I don’t hear for her for months (if not years) and then I get a unsolicited invitation. I feel ignored, slighted, and taken advantage of.

The secret to successful email marketing is CONSISTENCY. Choose a frequency to send emails out (e.g. 1x/month, 2x/month, 1x/week, etc.) and STICK WITH IT. Never go long periods of time without emailing.

PLUS, don’t have “an ask” in every email. Personally, I like to follow the Give-Give-Give-Sell method. This means you GIVE to your subscribers by consistently sending out free helpful content, tips, tools, stories, etc. and then you have earned the privilege of SELLING to them.

MISTAKE #5: Boring subject line

The subject of this email was “New (Awaken your Spine) Series, New Class, New Studio.” Okay, so not totally terrible (I’ve seen worse like “March Newsletter”), but not great either.

If you don’t want your emails to automatically get axed from someone’s inbox, you need an eye-catching, curiosity-inducing, intriguing subject line … like one of these sitting in my overflowing inbox now (that HAVEN’T been deleted yet):

  • I cringed when she asked…
  • Want to fly on my private jet?
  • The only way to make me cry
  • How to make millions on the phone
  • The missing key to your “laptop lifestyle”

Makes you curious, right?? Me, too. That’s why I haven’t given them the axe (…yet).

Just go ahead and make the assumption that your email subscribers are drowning in email. Their inboxes are overflowing. They’re overwhelmed with never-ending free content from books, blogs, podcasts, and the fifty other email newsletters they’re subscribed to. And because of this, they’re not afraid to unsubscribe on a whim.

That being the case, your emails need to stand out like a red rescue boat in a storm. They need to be the bright beacon guiding your prospects to safety. Your email subscribers signed up for your list because THEY NEED YOUR HELP. So it’s your job to do everything you can to reach them.

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Kemi - 4 years ago

Great Tips Laurel. Really helpful and I really found no. 3 helpful

    Laurel Staples - 4 years ago

    Thanks Kemi! Having 1 call-to-action is extremely important in order to lead readers to take the next step. Glad you enjoyed the article! Can’t wait to read YOUR newsletter. 🙂

steve - 4 years ago

Just to be sure; you’re saying “March Newsletter” is a bad thing? Hmmm, maybe that explains my 12% open rate.
Thanks Laurel, great tips being implemented now!

    Laurel Staples - 4 years ago

    Well, when email marketing first started, “March Newsletter” wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, but now it’s almost guaranteed to be a snooze-fest since people’s inboxes are flooded. LOL. Looking forward to seeing your new attention capturing subject lines! 🙂

Daniel - 4 years ago

I know what you mean about emails needing to be worth your time. I only stay subscribed to no more than 4 educational newsletters at a time; depending on what I’m currently struggling with. If it’s not best of the best, it gets axed.

Great news, yours is one of those four. Lol

    Laurel Staples - 4 years ago

    You’re right–it gets overwhelming to subscribe to more than a few newsletters (I do, but I have them going to a dedicated folder, and I admit to not reading most of them). Glad I made your list of non-crappy newsletters! 🙂

Why Not Having an Email List is Like Telling Prospects “I don’t want to work with you” | ProCoach Academy | Get More Clients Now - 3 years ago

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