Project Description

Email marketing

August 2022


Al Puddick
Al PuddickSenior Copywriter

5 things scammers can teach you about email marketing 

I received an email the other day. Nothing odd about that, you might think. But straight away, I could tell something was up. The company logo was a little off. The font seemed odd. And the way it was written didn’t seem right – tonally, it was very abrupt and demanding. Stranger still, it was littered with typos. Not so many that it was illegible, but enough for an eagle-eyed copywriter like me to laugh at how they’d failed to properly proofread their communications. 

I scrolled down to the link the email wanted me to click, to confirm my purchase of a product I’d never even heard of. Then alarm bells started ringing. A scam email for sure. 

So, I had another little laugh. How do these scammers expect to fool an intelligent person like myself if they can’t even get the basics right? Well, that, it seems, is entirely the point. 

Weeding out timewasters 

It’s common for cybercriminals to purposefully insert typos, mistakes and grammatical inaccuracies into their emails. It helps to weed out people like me, who’ll over-analyse the wording and pick up on mistakes. Because if you spot an error early on, chances are you’ll also be wary about any next stages. And you definitely won’t want to share your bank details, sign up to a dodgy scheme or help a crooked ‘African prince’ sneakily transfer millions of pounds out of the country for a generous commission. 

That’s a waste of the scammers’ time. They only want to receive replies from people who will fall for their scams. So, they’re adept at targeting the right people, then using clever techniques to manipulate them. 

Sophisticated campaigns 

It’s easy to write scammers off as stupid, lazy crooks. But the scams they use are often very clever, utilising sophisticated behavioural science to trick people and businesses out of their money. Apparently 97% of people can’t always identify phishing scams. And the scam industry is worth big money. Criminals successfully stole £1.2 billion in the UK through fraud and scams in 2019, and they’re only getting smarter and harder to spot. The impact on businesses can be devastating as well – IBM calculates the average cost of a data breach at $4.24 million. 

So, while we might not condone it, it seems to me we could learn a few things about email marketing from scammers. 

  1. Pick your targets

Scammers don’t waste their time on leads that won’t pan out. Neither should you. So, carefully select audiences who are most likely to respond positively to your emails. You only really want to hear from people who want what you’re selling.  

  1. Write for your audience

From appealing to people’s greedy nature, to making them worry they’ve already been conned, these tricksters know how to elicit responses quickly. So should you. Write in a friendly, appealing tone that’s appropriate to your audience and you’re more likely to engage them enough to click through. 

  1. Make things easy 

Cybercriminals succeed when they get people to click through without thinking, so they create very simple user journeys. You can too. Don’t make readers overthink things or have to interpret what you want them to do. Get to the point quickly and give them one simple button or link to click. 

  1. Don’t waste your words

Like the conmen, don’t over-engineer your emails. Make them short and sweet. Dilute things down to a single thought and then edit, edit and edit to cut out any flab. You don’t want people reading chapter and verse when they should be clicking your link. 

  1. Check for typos

Here’s where you need to differ from the criminals. Make sure you give everything a second (and third) look before sending it out. You don’t want people thinking you’re a dodgy email scammer because you’ve accidentally let a mistake slip through. More importantly, you don’t want to damage your brand’s reputation by missing avoidable errors like getting dates wrong, misspelling words, or including broken links. 

So, when you’re creating your next email campaign, why not think about how the scammers might approach it? And next time you get an email that doesn’t look quite right, double-check for typos but definitely don’t click the link. 

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