When I was a kid, I remember my father, exasperated with traffic while we were driving somewhere, saying people who are polite in person are rude when driving because they have the anonymity of the car. Someone who would never cut in front of you in line at the bank, he argued, would cut you off in traffic without batting an eye because of this anonymity.

I think about his comment when confronted with rude drivers, but also when confronted with email marketing. At times, it seems as if email marketers take the car approach, doing things via email they wouldn’t do in person.

For example, companies show up in my inbox when I don’t know them, and I haven’t given them permission to email me. Others email me every day, assuming I want to hear from them daily without asking my frequency preference first. Still others trick me into opening an email by using a misleading subject line or pretending to be from a friend of mine.

Most email marketers wouldn’t do things like this if emailing someone personally, but some are fine with doing them protected by the anonymity of their corporate identity. Their email marketing becomes their equivalent of a car.

Is that really how we want to market our goods and services to others?

Probably not. So let’s choose to be Nice instead of Naughty when we’re in the inbox.

To make sure you’re getting more checks in the Nice column than the Naughty one, let’s do a quick review of some of the common courtesies many email marketers forget to adhere to, to make sure you’re not committing any of them. Below are my top four Naughtys I see committed in my own inbox on a regular basis. Are you guilty of any of these?

  • Naughty Number 1: Not using a real Reply To email address
  • Naughty Number 2: Sending to people who didn’t ask you to send them anything
  • Naughty Number 3: Tricking people into opening your email with misleading subject lines and/or From names
  • Naughty Number 4: Using email copywriting that’s not in any way, shape or form helpful or customer-centric

If you are guilty of any of these, cease and desist and figure out a Nice alternative to your current Naughty. Use a real email address. Only email people who gave you permission to do so. If you’re being tricky—at all—replace that trickery with honesty. And if your email copywriting isn’t something a prospect or customer wants to read, rewrite it. Now.

Make sure you err on the side of Nice on each and every visit to someone’s inbox…or you won’t be showing up in that inbox for much longer.

Nice photo by Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flat-lay-of-letter-shaped-cookies-5898233/

Sharon Ernst is a retired freelance copywriter now on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes.