Bad Sales Email Components (And How To Fix Them)

Emails are a crucial component of digital marketing. Learn how to avoid and overcome common email marketing mistakes here.
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Bad Email Examples

Emails are a crucial component of digital marketing. According to Campaign Monitor, sales emails can yield up to 4,200% ROI, or $42 from every $1 spent. However, salespeople have to do it right. A McKinsey & Company study confirms that emails are 40 times more effective at closing deals than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Another study showed that salespeople spend 21% of their day writing sales emails. This is equivalent to 13 working hours per week spent on emails. Despite the effort, not all salespeople experience astounding results. This is especially true for those without adequate email copywriting knowledge.

Throughout this piece, we’ll highlight the most common sales email mistakes you should avoid, and how to fix them. Let’s get into it.

Sales Email Mistakes To Avoid

For this scenario, we’ll analyze a bad email example from a HubSpot case study. The attention will be on the email subject line, opening line, body, and call to action (CTA). Hopefully, you don’t make the same mistakes in this email.

1. Using a clickbait subject line but failing to deliver in the email body.

Clickbait-type subject lines are “salesy” and could lead the reader to not trust your business. Here’s an example of a bad email subject line:

Bad Sales Email - Clickbait Subject Line Example

Pete Caputa, a former member of the HubSpot team, says this is a poorly written subject line because it can come across as clickbait and overall harm your sales email efforts. 

While using curiosity to capture attention in the subject lines is a remarkable strategy, there are right and wrong ways to do it. According to Gartner, the average email open rate is only 9%. However, subject lines that spark curiosity see a higher open rate. A powerful subject line is impactful for open-rates and it can also boost conversions. However, it’s important that the subject line sparks curiosity while getting across the point of the email. If the subject line doesn’t align with the intent of the email, this could negatively impact your sales.

As a prospect reads further into the email above, they can see that the subject line doesn’t match the intent of the email. While a high open-rate is crucial, it means little to nothing if it doesn’t lead to conversions or opening the door to a greater conversation. Although the sender did personalize the message for the reader, it’s vital to ensure that it broadly explains why the reader should open your email

2. Using a non-personalized introduction line.

Sales emails with high click-through rates are more often than not hyper-personalized and relatable to the target audience. Most salespeople understand the need to use ice breakers, especially when interacting with potential buyers. 

By introducing the reader directly, you increase the opportunity to grab their attention. Additionally, you should ease them into the conversation with information that’s relevant to them and their needs.

Here’s an example of a bad introduction: 

Poor Introduction Sales Email Example

In the bad email example above, the sender failed to mention the reader by name which is the first red flag. Secondly, the sender jumped right into the body of the email without adding any value to the reader.

When writing a sales email, it’s essential to mention the reader by name rather than a blanket greeting or a “to whom it may concern.” This enables the reader to feel more connected to your company and that the email is crafted specifically for them.

Additionally, rather than jumping into the body of the email, it’s essential to open up the conversation with value to the reader. This could include opening with an alarming statistic, addressing a common pain point, or highlighting something specific about the company or industry receiving the email. One of the best ways to create an engaging opening line is to scout through the prospect’s social media profiles and website to learn unique details about their business. This allows you to craft a more personalized message for the reader.

Here’s how the bad example above can be transitioned into a conversion-focused sales email:

Good Introduction Sales Email Example

This introduction is great because it’s targeted toward the reader, it’s specific to their business, and shows that you’ve actively been engaging with their content on social media. While it may seem like a small tweak, it provides value to the email and shows the reader you genuinely care about their business successes.

3. Placing your call to action in the wrong spot.

While a call to action (CTA) is essential for every piece of content you distribute, it’s also crucial that you place it where it’s relevant and makes sense. A CTA is vital for guiding email recipients to the next step of the sales funnel. Here’s an example of bad CTA placement:

Bad Sales email example - Bad CTA Placement

In this example, the CTA is “schedule a 15-minute call.” Although it’s great this email has a CTA, the sender is coming in hot without telling the reader what the phone call is about. Before you input a CTA, it’s crucial that you introduce yourself to the reader, why you’re emailing them, and what you want to talk about during this 15-minute phone call.

Here’s an example of a better placed CTA:

This CTA is better than the original example because it introduces who you are, who the company is, and what they have to provide for your business.

4. Leading with too many benefits in the first email.

The first email in the cold email series should be about the prospect. You want to acknowledge what they do, their successes, and everything in between. If you have to mention yourself, it would be best to keep it short and sweet.

The last thing you want to do is throw everything at them all at once. That’s a mistake because it will quickly confuse your leads. Instead, you want to know the problem to solve, then lead with one big idea or benefit. You can introduce more offers later as upsells once you establish trust.

This bad email example is confusing and will make the prospect run in the opposite direction:

Bad Sales Email Examples - too many benefits too early

Like the wrongly placed CTA, immediately introducing product and service offerings can turn off a potential buyer because you’re coming off too strong with your sales efforts. Before listing your product and service offerings, introduce yourself, your business, and how you’ve been able to help businesses like theirs.

By jumping into product and service offerings too quickly, you can turn off potential buyers because they become overwhelmed with all the information that’s thrown at them. Rather than listing a wide range of product and service offerings, it’s most beneficial to list products and services that align with their needs. This gives you the opportunity to personalize messaging and increase the chances of converting them into customers.

Are You Struggling To Write Sales Emails That Convert?

Writing sales emails that convert can be challenging if you don’t understand the wants and needs of leads in the sales pipeline. While you may want a high open rate, these open rates mean little to nothing if they don’t provide value for the reader.

When writing sales emails, make sure that senders:

  • Avoid using a clickbait subject line
  • Write hyper-personalized email openers to create rapport
  • Precede CTAs with value statements built around a central idea
  • Have a clear CTA at the end of the email


If you’re not writing sales emails that convert leads into customers, contact the email marketing experts at Sapper Consulting to lend a helping hand!

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