Stay out of the junk folder with these email basics
Trista Perot
April 29, 2024

My daughter plays club soccer and is approaching her junior year, which puts her on the cusp of the eligibility window to speak with D1 and D2 schools. Her team attends showcases, and her personal info gets distributed to the coaches there, many of whom she has never spoken to or had any contact with yet. Some are schools that, as a 16-year-old, she’s never even heard of.

The crazy thing is she (and I’m sure all of her teammates) gets added to the mailing lists from these soccer programs. She’s constantly getting emails about upcoming ID camps (which is all D1/D2 can send to her currently), but they are clearly mailing lists because they haven’t even mail-merged her name into them—and she knows this. And she deletes them because she’s interested in schools that are genuinely interested in her.

As someone in marketing, what I find even more disappointing is that a lot of the messages are from schools that don’t spell out their name (AU doesn’t tell her anything) OR where they are located. She isn’t familiar with all of the mascots either. “Come play with the bears!” is not helpful. And what’s even more puzzling is that they don’t put their address in the footer. Kids who are geographically targeting areas for college now have to either research what the school is and where it is, delete it, or flag the sender as junk. Which do you think happens most?

The error there, of course, is that the schools assume she knows who they are. She doesn’t. Half the time, I don’t either. Sure, it’s a numbers game for them. Maybe the school will get a response from this spray-and-pray approach, but it doesn’t even try to build a relationship with athletes who are searching for their first home away from home.

I wish I could say this was just indicative of soccer programs, but sadly, I get these emails in my work inbox, too. Every few weeks, I’ll go on an unsubscribing spree, and I will find at least one that is familiar – I get it all the time – but for the life of me, I can’t remember who it’s from or why I signed up for it — or did I? There’s no company name, only a person’s name, and no logo. Mystery messaging, it’s a thing.

When you’re reaching out to an audience, it’s important that you remember a few basics. While this communication that you’ve agonized over every word of is such a time-consuming activity on your part, the recipient is flooded with similar emails every day. You are not that significant to them, and they don’t have any investment or commitment to your creation. To earn the privilege to continue to send to your recipient, you need to make your message:

  • Identifiable and branded – include your company, logo, and addresses (both web and physical), and incorporate your company colors and fonts
  • Quickly valuable – the message can’t be too long, and the recipient has to be better for reading it or you’ll end up in the bin
  • Personable – write it like they’re your best friend and address it to them. Mass customization is easily possible, and it goes a long way.

As for my daughter… what email really stands out to her? The ones that are sent personally from a coach, yes of course… but she also got email on her birthday wishing her a happy day. You and I know that it’s just one more field that these schools added to their database, but most don’t take the time to do it. That little distinction keeps them out of the “junk” folder and sets them apart even when their other messages are clearly sent to a list. It’s a small automation with a bigger impact.

I’m curious: what are you doing with your email to evade the dreaded “unsubscribe?”

Trista Perot

Trista Perot

Trista is a marketing expert with over 30 years of experience working with companies to develop and execute innovative marketing strategies to drive business growth. Her unique ability to blend creativity with data-driven insights has helped countless businesses maximize their marketing efforts and stand out in crowded markets.