Email Marketing can be one of the most effective mediums for digital marketers. Despite a relatively low open rate, email marketing is a very attractive way to promote your business or product. A low cost and unlimited reach entices both SME’s and Digital Marketing managers.However, the hacking scandal earlier this year has put this medium in a position of becoming both an annoyance and threat to email receivers.

This strain I believe will manifest in various ways strangling the effectiveness of email marketing as we know it. These issues are:

Lack of Trust

The hacking scandal has left many consumers afraid of opening unsolicited emails. I’ve even been afflicted by this mind state. If I don’t know the person sending the email or the name is foreign then this immediately triggers my caution. In previous times, we might open an email out of curiosity or boredom. But now we fear destroying our computers after we needlessly open an email.

All of this has created an environment of fear centred around email marketing campaigns.

The Fear of the Unknown

It’s the unknown email recipients fears the most after the hacking scandal. Is this a legitimate email or a scam? Is that link really to their website or is it to an alternate hacking portal which could immediately crash the computer network systems. And of course, is the email actually from this person/company or was their email account hacked?

These questions need addressing by email marketers prior to creating email marketing campaigns. Avoiding false or unrealistic promises to customers will also help. As an active scam avoider, I notice most of them seem to immediately promise you riches and to solve all your problems. It goes without saying but most seek your money in some way.

The best solution to this is with transparent communication with customers winning their trust. Providing the possibility of real results from actionable means rather than unrealistic ones will also help.

Need for Greater Personalization

Emails will need to win the recipient’s immediate trust before they open the email. A descriptive and transparent subject line is important. Also including a name in the sender rather than a generic company name helps establish rapport and ease fears.

Visual content eases recipient’s comprehension of the email. Visuals also make the email appear more authoritative and trustworthy. Could an image at the top of your email summarise your whole message accompanied by a short personal note?

Always include people’s first name rather than a generic “hello”. Inside the email, I notice many companies insert an image of the sender at the bottom of the email. This personalises the email. Also, they include a handwritten signature of their name as a png image. These combinations highlight to the sender that the message originates from a real person, not a scam or hacking algorithm.

Demand for more Relevancy

A lot of people open emails. Many describe email as the medium they prefer companies to contact them on. Saying that open rates average at 24% with a click-through rate of 3.4%. As a result of the hacking scandal, I believe these rates will suffer dramatically. Click through rates are especially vulnerable with recipients afraid of clicking on links.

Email marketing campaigns now need to be more relevant to recipients. Better targeting will also boost effectiveness. Extra research will ensure your emails are reaching people interested in your business/product. This helps minimise time and budget waste as well as annoying recipients damaging your brand image.

Overall the pressure on companies will be to attract more subscribers. These individuals trust emails coming from the company and actively seek communication via email. Cold email lists are necessary to build brand awareness and attract new customers. However, segmentation will help recipients understand why the company is contacting them. Emails also need to be optimised for mobile as the majority of people open their email on their phone.

Lack of Authenticity

One of the biggest issues I have with email marketing is the lack of authentic communication. My email account has over 492 unread emails mostly from companies sending material I do not want or suggestions I didn’t request.

One online learning company, in particular, email me one week offering me a free trial for 30 days. The next week they decide to extend the offer by 48hrs due to “overwhelming demand”. Then the following week they offer their whole year subscription for €99. The cycle then continues week after week with them returning the same emails. Needless to say, I lost trust with this company a long time ago as their campaigns are not authentic or transparent. They are merely emailing me every week with the same “great offer”. An offer is meant to be a special price which you don’t “offer” all year round.

Be authentic and gain people’s trust. Nobody likes to feel like they were tricked or “caught” as Irish people like to say.


In the wake of the hacking scandal, the biggest challenge facing email marketers is to convince recipients that this is a real email from a real person with good intentions. Building trust, speaking authentically, segmenting the email list and personalising the email will all help boost open rates.