Denny’s Daily Zinger: The Worst Email Ever!

Read the uncorrected email.

Corrected email message.

Check out the media player at right.
Illustration No. 1 is the worst email I ever received.

The reason I opened it was the subject line:

Real Marketing Secrete

Two Questions:
1. Was this a typo? (“Secrete” is a verb.)

2. Or was the sender a total illiterate?

The answer to both questions is “yes.”

Illustration No. 2 points out exactly why it’s so bad—14 grammatical errors in just 138 words of headline and text.

Okay, I’ve probably seen worse emails over the years.

But the sender’s email handle is businesscoach.joseph@.

Business Coach Joseph???

This kind of mediocrity could be expected from a porn site operator or a texting high school student, but emphatically NOT a business coach!

Takeaways From My New Book, Write Everything Right! to Consider:

  • You have two shots at getting your email opened:

—From line

—Subject line

  • Do not use words in the subject line that could trigger spam filters.
  • Business Coach Joseph’s use of “secrete” as a noun landed his effort in my spam file. (Good for Yahoo’s spam filter program!)
  • Always run everything you write through a spelling and grammar program before you send it anywhere.
  • I passed Business Coach Joseph’s message through the Word spell-check system and it did not pick up much.
  • The Apple Pages program picked up nothing.
  • Always send an important email to yourself first, so you can be sure it arrives in the recipient’s box looking exactly as you want it to.
  • Unschooled communicators should not be afraid of hiring a professional copy editor for guidance.

Denny Hatch is a copywriter, designer and direct marketing consultant. Read the first three chapters of “Write Everything Right!” for free (PDF). Contact Denny at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • John Manus

    I am not qualified to pass as a grammar coach or English teacher, however, this email would be considered funny if it weren’t so sad.
    Unfortunately, there is a fairly significant part of our nation that wouldn’t think that there is anything wrong with this email. ( Brothers from the same lodge, so to speak)
    They will spend money with this idiot, never understanding why his "teachings" didn’t produce any positive results…. So sad…

  • Jeff

    The email is not surprising. What’s surprising is that YOU are on his email list, unless he sent it to you knowing you would trash it and post it on your blog. In that case, the guy is a genius.

    Coach Joseph is not a business coach, he is an affiliate marketer.
    The site promoting the "meeting" is topsecretmeeting(dot)com. It is probably promoting some $47 product that will make you a million dollars without doing any work.

    Thisshouldbeasecrete(dot)com is a redirect domain containing Joseph Elliott’s affiliate link. All things considered, I’m not surprised at the quality of the email’s content, and most of his recipients probably didn’t notice anything wrong with it. :)

  • bionix

    Denny, I’m more surprised that you even looked at this email. I get many of these every day. It is either one of those Nigerian scammers or some non-English speaking pseudo-marketer trying to make a buck. I delete them within 1 second.

  • greg

    I just received an email advertising Oakley sunglasses in which the sender, obviously an inexperienced, spell check abusive, untrained employee, spelled Oakley wrong 4 times?

  • Rebecca Cashman

    This email totally made me laugh!! I don’t visit porn sites but something tells me that they write better than this, even. (I mean, after all, don’t people read Playboy for the articles? HAHA).

  • Michael Capuzzi

    Denny – I agree with you 100% These types of emails are way to common these days and it’s hard to believe anybody reads this stuff. Thanks. Just bought your new book and can’t wait to read it!

  • Jeff Laurie

    You probably remember what I’m about to describe, Denny. Sometime in the ’80s, when I was reading every direct response magazine and publication available (and there were a lot more then), a columnist — I think for Direct Marketing magazine — maybe even Milt Pierce but I’m not sure — wrote about INTENTIONAL misspellings or flaws.

    In those days we all used typewriters. One intentional flaw was in a cornercut, where one of the letters struck slightly above the others (like a superscript). And it increased response by a measurable amount. I suppose the reason was that it got attention.

    But, clearly in the case of the worst direct mail ever, there were no conscious, tactical choices involved.

    Jeff Laurie

  • Jim Gilbert

    Denny, great article. This guy needs to be trained by those Nigerian scam copy folks for better results 😉

    Jim Gilbert

  • Angela Slupe

    Denny – thanks for sharing. When I first started reading your article I thought it was going to be about how some marketers intentionally miss-spell words in their subject line in order to get attention and then they send the "oops" email as a follow-up. What are your thoughts on that? I personally think it is an annoying marketing tactic that makes marketers look bad.

  • Carter S.

    The REALLY amazing thing is that even his DOMAIN uses ‘secrete’. So, this clown paid money for a domain with a typo in it. Look at the very last line.


  • Larry Chandler

    There are more than 14 errors. There are errors in usage as well as grammar. The person who wrote this is clearly illiterate.

  • Sue

    Maybe the Nigerian scammers are trying something new?

  • CJL

    This guy is a marketing GENIUS. How many people have now read his email and visited because of journalist critiquing it?

    Pure Genius!

  • Peter Rosenwald


    What surprises you?

    Most of the folks out there are illiterate. They are schooled in babble, use OMG abbreviations and think just because they can get ‘published’ ("warts and all" as the Brits say), going into cyber print doesn’t demand any discipline.

    We know better. Perhaps the slap on ‘Secrete’s’ wrists will have some positive effect. But don’t bet Target Marketing on it.

  • Christopher Trum


    After reading the e-mail, all I could think was, "Oh My God….where do I start?" From reading the e-mail, I can’t tell if this is a scam or a legit business.

  • BillBrown

    Must’ve hired a penny-a-word writer from

  • Nyx

    Not to nit-pick, but you have a typo. You used } instead of ).

    ("Secrete" is a verb.}

  • Jerry


    Let’s see… the domain has a private registration. There is no "about us" information on the (one page) website. It announces a "mystery woman" interviewing "Mr. X". To sign up all you need to do is give them your email.

    I highly suspect the email came from non-native English speakers. But to me, the whole thing smells like a cod that’s been left in the sun for a week or so.

  • Paul Zink

    In addition to the “From” and “Address” lines, I’d submit that another important factor is the list. I just got an email addressed to me at my “Paul Zink” email address with the subject line (paraphrasing) “Six Signposts You’re Likely to Get Breast Cancer”.

    I assume that Signpost #1 is having breasts to start with.