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[Prefer to listen to the audio blogcast? Listen on Apple, Spotify, Google or Anchor or say "Alexa play the Everything Email Marketing podcast"]

You know, sometimes it’s the silliest, most boneheaded things which trip us up.

This is true for your email too.

Recently I found this email in my spam folder. Now, because of what I do, I sometimes like to perform a post-mortem on spam-folder email. Think of me as the email coroner. I want to know what caused an email to die that slow death, suffocating in my spam quarantine area.

See if you can spot the mistakes in this email (this is a genuine, unretouched email, other than our changing the name of the service to “Geegaw” in order to protect the hapless):

Hello @[email protected],

We hope you’re enjoying your complimentary Premium Membership. It expires on July 23, 2008, but you can still be awarded another one. Here are some ways you can get another Premium Membership:

– Invite your friends to join you on Geegaw

– Use Geegaw to call your friends and family worldwide

– Update your personalized contact page and join the conversations in cafe Geegaw

We hope you join us as a Premium Member again soon.

Thanks for using Geegaw!

– The Geegaw team


So, what’s wrong with this email?

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5 Responses

  1. Hi, Anne,
    I’ve received a couple of these, too. (Actually, I’ve received this EXACT message! :-))

    I see two things wrong:
    1. @[email protected] and
    2. complimentary (rather than complementary)
    3. according to Will Strunk (The Elements of Style), there’s a slight error in punctuation but, in my opinion, that one’s forgivable…

    Keep STRONG!!

  2. Offers to get the recipient ‘another’ free trial membership instead of asking for them to sign on and pay for their service…they fail to ask for the sale.

  3. It seems that the @[email protected] issue would be most likely to get this sent to spam, though the lack of a link and possibly having it come from a generic “team” name rather than a real person’s name would negatively impact the number of replies.

    Note: they are actually using the correct version of complimentary (meaning “free”) here. Here’s a link to a definition on Merriam-Webster (

  4. Lisa,
    Thanks for helping to clarify the difference between complimentary and complementary! Good thing *I* wasn’t editing the original message! :-)

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