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Updated by Genoo / WPMktgEngine on Jan 31, 2017
Headline for How You Know a Robot Sent You an Email
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How You Know a Robot Sent You an Email

So many emails landing in inboxes all over the world, every day - it is important to stand out. This list points out some of the most common ways in which an email will stand out for all the wrong reasons - or, worse, just get regarded as junk mail. Think of this as a checklist of things NOT to do when setting up your own email marketing plan - and criteria for evaluating the email marketing systems and platforms that you could choose to perform this all-important marketing task for you and your organization.

Go ahead - vote for your personal pet email peeves!
Did we miss one? Email it to us - We'll add it to the list!

The email starts with "Dear Bob" and your name is Joe

Don't laugh - we've seen it, way too many times. There are a couple of things that cause that to happen:-

- Someone edited the CSV file before uploading it, and accidentally deleted a single cell instead of an entire row
- The emails are being sent through regular email using a merge process (bad idea anyway), and the merge fields are off - usually caused by an extra delimiter in the merge file

Email senders need to form a habit of spot-checking a list before uploading it, and do not ever do merge processes into standard emails (because that's likely going to send emails that are not CAN-SPAM compliant).

The email is addressed to Dear Firstname - and it really says the word "Firstname"

Someone didn't test-send their email, now, did they? When the name of the replacement field shows up, and not the actual replacement text (your actual name), you know the email was sent by a robot. What's worse, you know the email was sent by someone who didn't properly test before sending.

As an email sender, there's really nothing more embarrassing. Yes, I did it - once. That's when I learned to not only test-send to myself, but to one or two other people as well. Better to test-times-three than to send once and make that kind of boo-boo. It's like that old "measure twice, cut once" saying (and trust me, I do that, too).

The email is from "DoNotReply @"

Nothing says "you're important to our organization" like an email which plainly says "I will talk to you, but I don't want you to talk to me." If your email provider sends emails from "DoNotReply" at, get a new email provider! Spam filters are increasingly going to drop emails like this directly into the junk folder.

The email is from " on behalf of"

At least one premium (and I do mean "premium") email marketing automation provider attaches all of that "from" text to every email they send, and really, not much looks more unprofessional or less personal. Test-send the email to yourself to be sure you can see what the "from" address looks like - and take steps to make sure it looks better than " on behalf of" - because that looks terrible!

There's a logo or a tagline in the email from the email service provider (usually at the bottom)

"I love to see the advertising of the sender's email service provider in that oh-so-personal email I just received," said no one, ever.

The email greeting is "Dear YOU" or "Dear you" instead of "Dear You"

If the email greeting has your name in all CAPS, I'd bet the sender got your name from a purchased list. It's old-school, but some list sellers still do all of their data entry in caps. The company which sent you the email bought the list and just uploaded it to their email service provider. Here's the most helpful hint EVER to those email senders - you got a CSV file, right? Make it an Excel file and do a simple formula to change the case of each cell to upper/lower, then re-save it as a CSV file and upload THAT. Simple.

If your name is all lower case, I'd bet that it came in from a form-fill, and you filled out the form while channeling your inner e.e. Cummings (who famously wrote all in lower case). Okay, you did that. Email senders take note: every once in a while, dump your list into a CSV file, do the same formula thing I mentioned above, and re-upload it to your email system. (If you can't do that without creating duplicate leads, get a new email platform, seriously.) At the very least, spot-check the incoming form-fills and edit the leads one-by-one to make the names proper Upper/lower case.

The email is from a non-person

Don't you love getting emails from "" No? How about "" Not that either? That's right - you are clearly being told by the email that you are being "marketed" - and who doesn't love that? Raise your hand along with us!

First of all, I guess you can't reply to that email. Why would you? You have no idea where it will go. If you aren't able to make a connection with a real person, how likely is it that you'll actually reply. Yep, not likely at all.

Senders, note well: your marketing emails need to come from a real person - and an actual monitored in-box - or we won't open them, we won't click through, and we'll eventually stop getting your emails at all, because we won't have interacted with any of them, and the ISPs will stop delivering them.

The email is addressed to "Dear Subscriber" or "Dear Valued Customer" or some other generic garbage

Yes, you are such a valued customer that the sender could not even bother to use your name. Ick. Not only was this email sent by a robot, it was sent to such an awful list that the sender did not feel comfortable using the name field in the greeting line. Ick again.

Email senders, if you have such an awful list, don't put some generic greeting garbage in there. Start your email with "Hi there" or "Hello again" or even "Greetings from the X Team!" It's better to not use a name at all than to come up with a generic "Dear Subscriber."
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