Ditch Email Cliches: Craft Clearer, More Effective Emails

email cliches cover image with a group of pawns and a single black pawn at the side

Email cliches are unoriginal phrases disliked due to their overuse in email communication.

As language evolves, new words and phrases appear to describe emerging concepts and cultural practices. Email is not immune to this; after all, there are almost 4.4 billion email users in the world today. There are bound to be bad writing habits that evolve from that many users.

If you think you might be guilty of occasionally repeating certain phrases, then this guide is for you.

Bookmark this page so you can check back when you’re writing your next email!

What are Email Cliches?

Think of email cliches as old furniture; they were stylish once, but now they’re just worn out and dull. And just like old furniture, once-popular words and phrases also go out of style. The indiscriminate use of such expressions has made reading emails a challenge both in email marketing and workplace emails.

Using repetitious words or phrases frequently makes your writing read as boring, impersonal, and annoying. 

You might insist some email cliches, such as signing off on an email with a “Cheers,” get the job done. But there’s more to it.

Why should you let go of the tried and tested phrases that do the work?

We can think of two main reasons to abandon email cliches: 

  1. They make you look like a poor communicator, 
  2. They could turn your recipients from responsive to uncooperative on a bad day!

By avoiding cliches, you make email reading less of a burden for your subscribers (or work colleagues). Repetitively using such phrases can make readers lose interest after a few emails. More importantly, writing a marketing email using clever copywriting can keep readers engaged and achieve better conversion rates.

Remember, people get hundreds of emails every day; the language you choose makes all the difference!

Email Cliches in Marketing

Email cliches are less common in email marketing because most emails are written by professional copywriters. Another reason is the tone and lingo of marketing emails change according to the industry.

That said, we can still think of a few worn-out phrases email marketers should avoid. Some of these expressions mirror bad habits pouring over from work and personal emails. Others are the result of poor creativity and resistance to new content ideas.

A common trend we observed is the repetitive use of particular wording in subject lines and greetings (we cover both of these shortly.) 

Other email cliches marketers are guilty of:

Abandoning these habits can revolutionize how your subscribers view your content. 

It’s best to first drop the bad habits before you build good ones. Let’s review what the most offensive email cliches are first.

The Worst Email Cliches: The People Have Spoken!

For 73% of people, email is the most common method of communication, according to this Perkbox survey. 20% of surveyed users said they spent 1-2 hours of their day in their inbox. 16% spent 2-3 hours, while 15% spent over 5 hours checking and sending emails. In addition to this, 31% of users also said they check their emails outside of work every few hours.

That’s a lot of email usage.

Considering the number of hours people spend using their email apps, it’s understandable that they get irritated by email cliches!

The Perkbox survey also asked people for their opinions on the most rampant email cliches, and the results were interesting.

You may see words or phrases you use yourself, so go through the list below and change your writing habits today.

  1. Emails starting with “Hi” and ending with “Kind Regards”: People voted for this as the most ideal format, even though it’s beyond worn-out. 
  2. Just looping you in: 37% of people voted for this as the worst email cliche.
  3. As per my last email: Second most disliked email cliche with 33% of votes.
  4. Using all caps: 67% said they dislike such emails.
  5. Any updates on this?: 1 in 4 users said they hated this email cliche.
  6. Signing off with “kisses” or “x/o”: A whopping 65% of users said it was in poor taste.
  7. CC’ing people unnecessarily: 63% of survey participants considered it poor email practice.
  8. Just checking in: 1/5th of all voters (20%) felt this was a bad email cliche.

As you can see, the views on universally common emailing practices are mixed. Although it’s sometimes unavoidable to ask for an update, senders should be aware of the need for a more personalized or creative manner of communication.

Returning to the survey, people also shared their views on greetings and email sign-offs — let’s go through those next.

The Best and Worst Email Greetings

It’s not just the subject line — the way you greet your reader and begin your email makes a difference, too.

The votes are in for best and worst email greetings:

Best Email GreetingsWorst Email Greetings
Hi (49%)No greeting (53%)
Good morning/Good afternoon (48%)To whom it may concern (37%)
Hello (21%)Hey – 28%
Dear (20%)Happy __day! For example: Happy Monday! (23%)
Happy __day! For example: Happy Monday! (7%)Greetings! (22%)
The best and worst greetings used in emails

As you can see “Happy __day” is listed in both columns. This indicates different people feel differently about such expressions. It all depends on exposure to that particular phrasing, as certain words may be overused in a specific industry or within a company.

The Best and Worst Cliches in Email Sign-Offs

People voted for the best and worst ways to sign off on emails:

Best Way to Sign Off Worst Way to Sign Off
Kind regards (69%)Love (57%)
Thanks/Thanks again (46%)No sign-off (44%)
Regards (31%)Warmly (31%)
Thanks in advance (21%)Cheers (26%)
Best wishes (20%)Yours truly (24%)
Best Sign-offs vs Worst Sign-offs in Email

The people have voted — do not sign off an email with kisses or hugs, that’s inappropriate. Interestingly, the traditional “Kind regards” is still considered an okay way to end an email, even though we have to agree it is a cliche (albeit an invisible one). 

We still feel you should spend a few moments thinking of better ways to wrap up your email, it can make a world of difference. 

Email Cliches in Subject Lines

Using a cliche in your subject line can set a bad precedent. If someone sees a subject line full of poor wording, they might question your professionalism or the legitimacy of your email.

In email marketing, the subject line is your chance to make a good first impression and give the recipient a reason to open your email. Note that a bad or generic subject line could even make the recipient think you’re a spam email sender.

Cliches waste valuable space that could be used to send clear, concise, and intriguing messages. Phrases like “You Won’t Believe This!” or “Urgent!” don’t tell the recipients anything specific about your email. This means your email will blend into the background noise of their inboxes. Using such subject lines while sending marketing emails would land them in the spam folder.

To elevate your practice, keep these 7 subject line cliches to avoid in mind:

  1. No subject line: No matter how pressed for time you are, add a subject. It shows respect for the recipient, especially when personalized.
  2. You Won’t Believe This: This line just insults the intelligence of your readers. Abandon at once!
  3. Hey: It’s a bad practice to send vague messages from the get-go. Just an empty greeting has no substance.
  4. Happy __day: Using phrases like “Happy Monday!” or “Happy Hump Day!” in the subject line is generic, especially when addressing a group of people you don’t know personally. 
  5. Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Important: This just looks messy and negligent to a recipient. Clean up your subject lines, both in marketing and otherwise, even in an email thread.
  6. Any thoughts?: This subject line is unclear as it doesn’t specify the matter. If you expand it with a specific product — or subject — it could work. 
  7. Urgent!: Adding urgency is necessary, but you can’t do it by writing “Urgent!” It’s lazy and cheap, and you should work around the message you want to send to create the immediate response you need. 

Awareness is the first step to bettering your writing habits. Now that you know what the biggest subject line cliches are, look toward good examples to inspire you. 

Good Subject Lines to Use in Email Communication

If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve put together a good list of phrases you can use as subject lines while emailing your collaborators and subscribers. 

Examples of good subject lines:

  1. Nike Halloween Sale: Now Live at an Outlet Near You!: This is the kind of clear language a brand should use in marketing emails. You can further use email personalization to add the name or geolocation.
  2. A 50% Coupon for Being Such a Loyal Customer. Thank you.: This is a great way to entice subscribers to open the email and be direct at the same time.
  3. Project Update for ABC123: You don’t have to use the word “project” but the example gets right to the point by stating you are getting a project update on a hypothetical project called ABC123.
  4. Need Next Steps for Project ABC123: This is another specific subject line, requesting directions for the hypothetical project named ABC123.
  5. RedWings Monthly Digest – September 2023: This is an example of a subject line for an email newsletter from a hypothetical airline news magazine; it clearly states what readers can expect.

Crafting your emails, you could also use humor in your email subject lines. And don’t forget to ensure your preheader text adds context to your subject line.

Opening Lines in Emails that are Cliches

The opening of the email is where most offenses occur in terms of email cliches. We’ve already covered the worst greetings above, but here are additional phrases you should quit using.

Example #1: “I’m John and I work for Microsoft.”

Why it’s bad: This example of an opening line is overused and dull. While you can’t avoid introductions, there are better ways to introduce yourself. 

Do this instead: Either state where you got their contact details from or immediately state the reason for which you’re emailing them. Adding your name at the bottom of your email, alongside your branding, should suffice.

Example #2: “Hope this email finds you well.”

Why it’s bad: The issue with this is that it’s been done to death. These days, it feels like a filler phrase that no one really responds to. Let’s respect the reader’s time and skip these ancient greetings!

Do this instead: Skip it. Just skip it!

Example #3: “Per the previous email.”

Why it’s bad: No one uses such language nowadays, unless they mean to come across as confrontational. By using this as an opener for your email, you’re insinuating the recipient has somehow not followed through on a previous commitment. Hard pass.

Do this instead: It’s much better to use polite language and bring up the issue mentioned in the previous email instead of asking them to refer to previous emails. Tact will ensure your work gets done.

Example #4: “I’d like to pick your brain about ___.”

Why it’s bad: It sounds like you want to use the other person’s time and effort for your own needs and it comes across as entitled.

Do this instead: You could state that you were hoping for their help with an issue you are facing currently. Asking for help has a much higher chance of a positive response than telling someone you’re going to “pick their brain.”

Now you know how to avoid repetitive phrases when introducing yourself — here’s how to maintain your streak of creative writing through the message body.

Email Cliches in the Message Body

Trite cliches aren’t restricted just to email openers — people are tired of universally exhausted common phrases in the email body, too.

Let’s review the top offenders:

  1. Let’s circle back: This phrase is notorious in email circles for being overused. A survey at The Ladders even found it to be the most hated phrase at the workplace. Use phrases like “Let’s review this” or “We can check on this after a month” instead.
  2. You’re going to love this: How about we skip telling the recipient how to feel? It comes across as disingenuous and a lot like sales talk, which is a turn-off. 
  3. I know you’re busy so I’ll keep this short: Keep it shorter — skip this line altogether. No one likes it.
  4. As I previously mentioned: If it’s a long email chain, don’t make your reader go through previous emails. Just mention the point once more.
  5. Please find attached: This line was really popular when email was new, about 30 years ago. Attach the files, state what you’ve attached, but skip this phrase — it’s a relic.

If you read through your own sent emails, you will catch words or phrases you tend to overuse. This is the best way to detect email cliches and get rid of them.

Signing Off With Style: Avoid These Overused Email Cliches

The worst sign-offs table above showed us a few banal expressions all email senders should avoid, like “Love,” “Warmly,” and “Cheers.”

Let’s go through additional examples of sign-offs you should skip when wrapping up your email.

  1. Sincerely: Oh, this is a bad one. It comes across as too formal and pretentious. It’s also uncommon to see these days, so it’s best you stick to something like “Best,” “All the best,” or “Warm regards.”
  2. Kisses/xx/xo: Grandmas love adding these to their emails — that should be reason enough to avoid signing off your email with kisses and hugs. It’s inappropriate for the workplace or in marketing.
  3. Ciao: Once more, we have a sign-off that is well past its prime. It’s not clever or smooth to say ciao unless you’re actually Italian.
  4. Yours faithfully: If you were a squire for a famous knight around 800 AD, this would have made an excellent sign-off. Not very popular these days, though, especially at work.
  5. No sign-off: This isn’t a great idea either, because it makes your email appear impersonal. At the least, include a “Thanks” or “Best” at the end of your message.
  6. Sent from my iPhone: Hopefully, we won’t have to explain this one.

Curious about what sign-offs are appropriate?

Best Email Sign-Offs

Try these instead of the ones stored in your muscle memory: 

  • “Excited to work on this project with you,”
  • “May the odds be ever in your favor,”
  • “Catch up soon,”
  • “Have an awesome weekend!”
  • “Sending positive vibes your way!”

With these tiny tweaks, your recipients will look forward to hearing from you.

Campaign Refinery: Think Out of the Box

At Campaign Refinery, we’re all about best practices — this is why we encourage good email etiquette, correct formatting, and solid copywriting. We believe you should write emails that people want to read.

And here are all the reasons our customers love working with us:

  • Our deliverability rates are the best in the industry. Right from our tech stack to our sending mechanisms to our in-platform tools, everything revolves around getting your messages to your email subscribers
  • Our email editor is so simple that you can focus 100% on writing the best emails and not get distracted by pointless features.
  • Campaign Refinery University can teach you to send emails that convert. Besides this, we also have features like Gamification, which entices your readers to engage with your emails.
  • Powerful segmentation and tagging features ensure you send the most relevant content with precision.
  • Build powerful automation flows with conditional logic to lead your customers down specific journeys

If you’re looking for elite email performance, Campaign Refinery is the place to be. Apply to become a customer today!

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