February 8, 2017

The Worst Automated Emails We Received This Year

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As writers on a blog read by hundreds of people every day, we here at TechnologyAdvice get cold emailed a LOT. As self-proclaimed thought leaders in the lead generation space, we decided to address some of these horrible cold emailing habits.

Below, you’ll find actual emails that sales teams have sent our department. We’ve added snarky notes because 1) snark is fun and 2) we’re hoping you’ll learn something.

The Spray-and-Pray

construction database email

Why it’s awful:

Opening with “Hi” is a dead giveaway that this is a bulk email.

This email promised to give us tons of construction leads, which would be great if we worked for a construction firm (writing one blog about construction software doesn’t count). Do your research, and make sure the account you’re targeting will actually find value in your product. Instead of asking what industry, geography, and job title they’re targeting (ugh, how lazy), maybe do a little research, look at the website, and suggest these things yourself?

The Eager-Beaver Follow-up

construction followup email

Why it’s awful:

We received the above construction database email and then this follow-up less than 24 hours later. I left the timestamps in so you can see: the first was sent Feb 6 at 2:41 PM, and the second at 9:52 on Feb 7.

Give your prospects a bit of breathing room. They have jobs to do, after all. Follow up in a timely manner, but don’t make people feel like you’re watching their house.


Why it’s awful:

Nicole did a great job of personalizing (points for spelling Aleks’s name right!), but then forgot to replace her placeholder text.

Hint: re-read your email before you send, and make sure your dynamic text function works.

And YOU Get a Graphic, And YOU Get a Graphic . . .

infographic email

Why it’s awful:

This was also sent to Aleks, but the sender decided to call him Adam.

Aside from getting the name wrong, the product just isn’t that exciting. An all-encompassing SMB (not SME, dear email author) infographic on staffing and light bulbs? Narrow your focus, and you might get a few more bites.

“Hope You’re Doing Door”

bad english email

Why it’s awful:

This is either an auto-correct problem or a translation issue, but either way, if you’re writing a mass email in a language that is not your first, check with a native speaker before sending. And have a door day!

“Incrise Your Knowladger”

increase my knowledge comment

Why it’s awful:

Ok, so this was a website comment and not an automated email, but the principles are the same. See above about checking your language before posting. Also, try to actually incrise other people’s knowladger by adding a valuable statement before linking to your website, rather than just saying “great post!” Spam comments like this will be deleted (after screenshots are shared around the office and everyone laughs).

The Buy-Our-Product-Please

buy our product please

Why it’s awful:

The “Dear Sir” is a pretty good way to keep anyone from reading your email. While the rest of it is great, it’s not tailored to any specific audience (in this case, writers at a B2B technology blog). Just because you found an email address doesn’t mean you have to use it. Focus on those accounts that may bite, and don’t waste your time on leads that aren’t a good fit.  

Translation Fail

translation fail email

Why it’s awful:

Ok, it’s pretty obvious this email is coming from a German company, so they’re translating, but if you’re sending to US-based email addresses, maybe change the “Sir oder Madam” to something a little more English-sounding. Even in German, “Dear Sir or Madam” will get your email deleted quickly.  

Sidenote: this is a mass email for a portable bicycle Kickstarter? Why do you have my email address?

Look, a Squirrel!

To Did email

Why it’s awful:

Joey gets points for a good start, especially letting us know he’s real and not a bot, even though we know that isn’t true. But by the next line, he lost us.

“For your audience to did, improve engagement, and and ultimately improve conversions to increase pipeline.”

It’s an incomplete sentence, and WTH is “to did”? The email sounds like Joey is really interested in sales, “and and” also easily distracted.


When you run your email campaign, keep in mind that there are real people — not just leads — behind those email addresses. These people have actual names that you can look up on the Internet. They also have varying standards of acceptable grammar, punctuation, and style that will lead them to either read and enjoy your email, or laugh at it and mark as spam. Finding that balance can be difficult, and even then, we all make mistakes sometimes.

If your team does make a mistake, take a lesson from this email marketer, who sent a personalized note and a picture of a cute dog to apologize. We appreciate you and your dog, fellow marketer.