5 Frightening Ways to Scare Your Email Subscribers

Ah, Halloween! The time of the year when someone can say, “You look scary!” and it’s a compliment, not a sign you should’ve gone with that second cup of coffee.

It’s easy to frighten co-workers and children, but what if you wanted to scare, say, your email audience? Odds are, your ESP doesn’t support making blood ooze from your recipient’s screen (apologies, we’re working on it). So how do you scare your email subscribers away without telling them something like “your student loans are past due?”

Rest assured, there’s nothing creepier than poor email marketing habits. Here are 5 email habits guaranteed to send your subscribers screaming away in terror.

1. A cryptic email signup process.

Email list growth is at the core of every healthy email marketing program, so cutting potential subscribers off before they even join your list is the fastest way to zombify your email program.

What mistakes can hurt your email capture strategy? Hauntingly long email capture forms cause audiences to give up before they can convert. Hidden capture forms ensure they never find your form in the first place. And intrusive lightboxes jump-scare potential subscribers away from your site, never to be seen again.

A scary process that doesn’t follow email capture best practices should be enough to deter new signups, but what about those who dare to enter your list anyway? The next four scare strategies will make audiences rue the day they signed up for your list.

2. Too much selling, not enough value.

You’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule: 80 percent of your content should provide valuable information to your audience, while only 20 percent should focus on your sales pitch. Throw that rule out the window, turn up the bloodsucking hard sell, and you’ll have subscribers running faster than you can say “Count Chocula.”

The email address is your personal connection to the audience, which means an endless assault of sales emails is a vampyric abuse of the email relationship. If your emails can’t see their own reflection, it’s likely they won’t be seeing their way to many loyal subscribers either.

3. Not treating your email subscribers like humans.

The most successful email programs send millions of emails a day. With that many emails going out, it can be easy to forget there are real-life, actual human people on the other side of each email. Want to whittle that email list down? Keep forgetting that.

Cold, impersonal email can signal to subscribers that they’re not valued. Or, you can go the other way and crank up the creepy with emails that are too personal. Personalization is a hot topic for email marketers, but personalization without purpose will only creep subscribers out.

4. Sending stale email.

Even the greatest email program will eventually run out of steam if not routinely updated. Refreshing your email template or testing new content is a great way to keep your email list engaged. But if you’re ready to send your email list to an early grave, keep sending your subscribers mummified content.

When readers receive more email than ever, it’s important for your emails to stand out. If readers know to expect the same old stuff from your emails, your emails might fall by the wayside when readers are deciding which emails to open. Keep sending more of the same, and your email subscribers will feel like they’re in the Twilight Zone.

5. Meeting your audience with irrelevant messaging.

Okay, so you’ve spruced up your email templates and shined up the content, but not all people have the same tastes. What some people find scary, other people might find delightful.

Like clowns. Or candy corn.

For an email program to thrive, you have to meet the right parts of your audience with the right kinds of content. You can do that with list segmentation, email automation, or even by implementing an email preference center and letting your audience tell you want they want. Want to scare your audience away? Don’t do any of that.

There are plenty of monstrous marketing emails lurking out in the inbox, so there’s no reason for you to add to the murky mix. But if you have your heart set on terrifying your readers this Halloween season, you can’t go wrong with any of these 5 horrifying ideas.

Or all of them at one time.

In fact, combine all 5 terrifying tips in your email program, and you’ll summon the scariest specter of all: a very angry boss.

If scaring away subscribers isn’t your thing, maybe scaring up more members of your email list is. Learn how PostUp helps brands like Apartment Therapy grow their lists by downloading our latest Audience Development Lookbook.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook