Email Writing Tips from Spammers

email spam

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

We all hate spam.  It fills up our inboxes, it takes time to delete, and it’s irritating to plow through it all to get rid of it.

Surprisingly, you can learn quite a few email writing tips from a spammer.

They may be slimy, but they are good at marketing.  And you can adapt their strategies for much less nefarious purposes.

What are spammers good at?

Heart-pounding subject lines

They write subject lines that immediately grab your attention and elevate your pulse rate.   I recently got one purportedly from Paypal.  It said, “Receipt for your payment to Avira.”  I’d made no such payment.

It was a trick to get me to open the email.  They wanted me to login to Paypal, through their fake link. This would give the spammer my password information and likely enable them to clean out my account.

I didn’t do it, but it certainly got my attention! And getting attention is the first rule of marketing.

Relevant and immediate messages

The message was relevant and important, since I do have a Paypal account and certainly want to keep track of any payments.

It had a cleverly disguised call for action. The idea was to look at it, think payment?! What payment?! And then click the link in a panic to run and check. Because who wants unauthorized payments? Nobody.


The email looked trustworthy at first glance.  The “from” field said “Paypal.” The subject line was in the same format as legitimate emails from Paypal.  People know and trust Paypal. The spammers were borrowing Paypal’s familiarity and trustworthiness in order to steal.

I certainly don’t recommend that you steal or lie, but you can adapt these tactics for more respectable uses.

  • Use your subject line to get attention.
  • Send relevant messages.
  • Build up your authority
  • Develop your readers’ trust
  • Create a recognizable brand so readers will recognize your name and open your messages