About a year ago, I signed up for a newsletter on sustainability in business. What started out as a weekly newsletter has evolved (or perhaps devolved) into a daily email. As noble and cost-saving and PR-worthy as environmental action may be, there's not enough new content out there to justify cramming my inbox five days a week.

This example illustrates my biggest pet peeve of email marketing campaigns — content that's irrelevant, too frequent, and sometimes just plain boring. And I'm not alone: 90% of people unsubscribe from an email list for these very reasons. But the pet peeve list doesn't stop there. Here are a few more that irk me (and remind me to avoid them as a B2B marketer creating email content for my own clients):

  • It's a subject header, not a subject novel. You've got to give subscribers a reason to open your newsletter, but it's a teaser; not a summary. On the flip side, just today I received a newsletter whose subject header simply said "Product Alert." Snooze.
  • Make it simple to unsubscribe. Don't make me reply with the word "unsubscribe" or provide my email address in order to opt out or I'll unsubscribe you from my heart and buying patterns as well as my inbox. And clean your list weekly if you don't want to be black listed as a spammer.
  • Provide me clear contact info. What if I like what I see in a newsletter and want to submit a product or news item for an upcoming issue? Sure, I could click on a link within the newsletter, go to the company's site, and find the contact info there, but why not just make it easier for the user? You don't need to use premium real estate (i.e., the preview pane) to include contact info — even a line at the end of the email will suffice.
  • Give me news I want to read. Not just news you want me to read. If you don't know me well enough to select the news I need, you don't know me well enough to get me as a customer.
  • Keep it fun, light, but informative. Knowledge is power, but too much knowledge without a little zing puts your customers to sleep. Trust comes from liking someone; make me like you.
  • Work at it. I can tell if you slapped a bunch of web stories together and called it a customer newsletter. The more you put into your newsletter, the more I'll appreciate your work and concern for my time.
  • Variety. Not just columns, or specials, or news stories. Relevant apps, jokes, good stories, and weird stories. As long as they're relevant to the common thread you share with the reader, then it all "blends."