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Does Your Email Marketing Suck? Here Are 10 Reasons Why

Reasons Why Email Marketing Sucks

The average email open rate hovers around 30%
The average click through rate is between 3% and 5%?
I’ve obtained these stats from a recent benchmark data report from HubSpot.

Such statistics are tough to handle because as a digital marketer attempting to convert a lead into a paying customer, you’ve got to be working a really huge mailing list to get any significant returns.
If your email marketing sucks? You could be engaging with less than 3% of the recipients trying to get them to click your email links. Unfortunately, if you are engaging <3% of your mailing list this will just deliver zero returns month on month.

Some email strategies seem engage with only 1% of their mailing list.  This has a huge negative impact on Internet driven income for brands that are being badly bruised using such techniques.

Does this sound familiar?

For whatever reason, when you are completely off the mark in your email strategy it can have devastating consequences. Your bank account taking the biggest hit. Bad email marketing campaigns not only shrink potential income, they have an outward ripple effect that can be brutal because they also damage brand perception.

Sometimes its breath taking to discover just how many digital marketers are leaving a ton of money on the table because their email marketing strategies are terrible.

Thankfully there are ways to fix this. You do not have to be one of the legions of digital marketers who suck at email marketing.

If you’ve been seeing dismal numbers in your email marketing metrics, there are reasons behind them. In this Blog post I’m going to show you 10 reasons why your email marketing could suck, and how you can fix this.

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You Don’t Know Your Potential Customer Demographics

When your site visitor choose to give you their Email Id they are giving you something precious. You need to understand your site visitor persona’s deeply and intimately before you start emailing them, otherwise you are sunk.

If your list is full of 26 year old MBAs looking to build their careers in marketing and they are suddenly offered a product connected with dandruff shampoo you’ve set yourself up for disaster.

This tells your mailing list that you don’t know anything about them, hence don’t be surprised by their loss of trust in you, and also expect a deluge of unsubscribes.

The only way to avoid this is by paying close attention to what your target market likes and responds to.  Since YOU are trying to sell them on your product or service, it’s imperative you’ve done your due diligence, and are crystal clear who you are targeting with your product or service.

You’re Only About Selling Your Product(s) Or Service(s)

While unquestionably the end goal of any email marketing campaign is to get subscribers to buy a product or service, (all marketers know this) BUT if you are selling them round the clock you are really blowing it, big time.

The email campaigns that deliver great results consistently work out a delicate balance between adding measurable value to their readers and leading their readers on a journey that ends in a sale.

Such email campaigns:

  • Warm up potential customers by offering them measurable value for free, first
  • Triggering their interest using stories of how your customers benefitted
  • Building a strong connection with the reader who sees themselves reflected in the customer
  • Then, when it comes time to actually buy, the decision for your reader is (hopefully) a no-brainer

Your Newsletter Subject Line Stinks

One of the biggest culprits that lead to a failed email campaign is poorly written subject lines.

You’re never actually going to sell anything via your email campaign if no one opens and reads the content of the emails you are constantly sending them.

Craft your email subject line:

  • Creatively enough to arrest attention
  • Engage your reader’s curiosity
  • Structure the subject line as an interesting (provocative) question

You know exactly what would make you click on an Email to open and read it, use the same triggers when you are creating email subject lines for your email campaign.

Getting the single issue of your Email Subject Line fixed can send your email click through rates through the roof. You’ll have a ton more recipients opening your emails.

In Your Newsletter You Come Across As A Brand, Not A Person

Part of connecting with your subscribers is being approachable (and hopefully, even likable).

Your newsletter recipients, (who are people) like to know there is a person behind the brand not just an automated robot. Ensure that is clearly visible in your email content.

Do not use a brand name in the from field of your emails, however tempting that may be, it sends out the wrong impression. This does turn readers off. It almost always gets your emails flagged as SPAM.  What happens then, is really email meets, SPAM bin meets, trash bin.

Use your name front and center. Use your personality to build a relationship with your readers that in turn enhances the brand.

Your Newsletter Copy Is Terrible

Your newsletter content is a heck of a lot more than dropping a few words on a page, slapping in a couple of images from where ever and clicking, Send. Your newsletter can either engage (or enrage) your readers, do try for engage, trust me the other does not work.  Entire email campaigns are won or lost on newsletter copy and most people are losing badly.

Start off by studying what is and isn’t great copy. There are a number of great websites that explain and teach the art of great copy writing (do have a quick look at Copy Blogger copy writing 101). Sites like this can help improve your content dramatically, making it fun and easy to read.

If you can afford it, outsource your newsletter content creation to experts, it really is well worth the additional investment. Improved newsletter and marketing copy pays for itself almost instantly. This saves you the time and headache of getting your campaign copy spot on.

You’re Inconsistent

While one does not really have to dispatch a newsletter every Monday at 11:43am to be successful, you do need to have consistency when running email marketing campaigns to see the best results. If you mail your leads too often they will simply assign your emails to their SPAM folder or worse simply unsubscribe never to be heard of again.

If you mail your leads once in every three months, they will never connect with who you, or remember where they connect with you in the first place. Result no opens, click throughs, no sales.

You’ve just got to let your mailing list know (when and how often) they can expect emails from you, which are either value add newsletters or your marketing campaign emails.

Here’s thought, when your newsletter really adds value to your subscribers, they will actually look forward to receiving them from you. You’ll notice this because of the higher than average, open, click through and engagement rates. This situation is what every digital marketer strives hard to achieve.

You’re To Busy To Test

Okay the excuse that you are terribly busy to test, just does not stand.

Have you sent your newsletter to yourself and viewed it in different Browsers?
– IE 9/10, Opera, Firefox, Safari and Chrome (latest versions)

Does the newsletter look identical in all the Browsers? Does the newsletter break in one or two of them?

Did you get at least one other person to read/edit your newsletter content.  It does take a fresh pair of eyes to catch common spelling and Grammar errors.

Are you checking the number of people that:
Opened your newsletter?
Clicked the link(s)in the newsletter?
Using MailChimp, AWeber or any one of many great mailing software available

Testing (then re-testing) everything you send out is really important so start testing and tracking, your newsletters right now. You may be surprised at what you discover. Based such statistics you can start improving your email marketing campaign to really deliver.

Your Newsletter Content Is Not About Your Potential Customers

Too many digital marketers make their newsletters all about the product/service, NOT about how the product/service can make life so much easier for the customer, in so many different ways.  Make your newsletter all about your customer’s needs and aspirations.

Find out what these are by testing and understanding what drives the passions of your mailing list. When you’ve got that down pat, appeal regularly to your customers passions.

Time has proven that the most successful email marketing campaigns are driven by those digital marketers who have cultivated an amazing relationship between them (i.e. the Brand) and the mailing list. This sort of relationship breeds trust, which in turn helps you to cross sell and/or upsell to your customers via your email marketing campaign.

You’re Not Using A Call To Action (CTA)

Okay, you’ve got the most awesome subject line that attracts attention and drives recipients to open your newsletters. Your copy, is superb in highlighting how perfect your product or service really is in helping relieve the reader’s pain point(s).

What no measurable results?

Guess what, if you do not have a clearly laid out Call To Action in your newsletter, nothing great is going to happen.

The third most vital part (the first two being an arresting subject line and great copy) is your Call To Action.  YOU must tell our readers to do something specifically, like:

  • Sign up for your webinar
  • Download your eBook
  • Purchase your product/service

Whatever it is you specifically want them to do.

If you are not telling your newsletter readers exactly what to do, they will do nothing and you will lose out on engagement and sales.

You Are Not Following Up

Not following up is actually two different and unique actions that you may be missing out on.

  • You initiate your newsletter based campaign and then . . . . . . . do nothing
  • You do not reply to any of the replies that come in from the campaign

Both of these are really serious mistakes. If you are really spending time to build a relationship between the brand and its
registrants, you will blow this out of the water if you completely or sporadically ignore your potential customers, by not
paying attention to them when it counts.

Ensure that you never leave your customers hanging after they have tried to engage with you at some level or the other.

Winding Up

All of this advice is for nothing if you have no way that captures potential customer email Ids via your site. If that’s true, fix this immediately, like right now!

Setup your site so that it has some way that offer something of value to your site visitors and asks for their Email Id in return.  If you do not have a great mailing list running an email marketing campaign is plain worthless.

If you combine the tips delivered in this Blog post, with a decent mailing list (i.e. 100 to 500 interested people) your emails (and your bank account) will start looking dramatically different. So, stop sucking at email marketing today, and instead start winning.

Please Leave Your Comments They Are A Huge Help

Do share what you do in your newsletter driven, marketing campaigns that helps you win, consistently. I’d love to read all about this and hone my own marketing skills.  My Blog post readers will also be eternally grateful to you for your help.

If you liked this Blog post, I’d love to read your comments. If you thought that this Blog post was not up to your expectations, I’d love to read your comments.

It’s your comments that helps me get better each day. Please pass on your bouquets or brickbats in the comments section right below.

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Ivan Bayross
Digital Marketing Evangelist, International Author & Business Mentor
I've been an entrepreneur for more than 33 years.

I've taught marketing and finance at a few MBA schools in Mumbai, India. These subjects are like a horse and carriage. You can't have one without the other.

I am technology savvy too as I am armed with an M.Tech from Manchester University, UK. In that sense, you could call me a geek-marketer, as I’m comfortable with both technology and marketing.

I have written and published 83+ books in tech and digital marketing. Many of these are available on Amazon.

I've been working in digital marketing for around 24+ years. I love to teach the subject, plus define, execute, and tweak digital marketing strategies for my own websites and my clients.

I'm moving my love for teaching to the web.
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14 responses on "Does Your Email Marketing Suck? Here Are 10 Reasons Why"

  1. Great post! I love the point about your newsletter not being about getting more customers in a disruptive way. As people are easily getting more annoyed at aggressive content and newsletters promoting a business’ products and services, there’s a great chance that they’ll unsubscribe from your list and forget your site altogether. As you’ve mentioned, it’s all about providing value to your list, in particular providing them with a solution for the newsletters you’re sending them. I have placed the same comment on

    • Hi Christopher,

      Oh Yes! Magic happens when you add real value to a recipient of your email newsletter. Trust builds, over time business happens. More often than not, the recipient of a really helpful newsletter becomes your advocate. There is no marketing strategy better than your customers recommending you / products / services. This is the very best social proof that you can ever get for your business.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Christopher, really appreciate it.

  2. Honestly, it’s hard to get me to open an email, because I am just so busy. The only way to reach me is to consistently have just such awesome stuff that I can’t resist opening the email every time. Maybe some people are less demanding than me.

    • Hi David,

      Well I know your secret now.

      If I want to catch David’s attention my content must be superbly crafted and add value to you.

      Nothing special, easy peasy. No stress. Where are those darn Campose tablets when I need them.

      Honestly, its doing my best to capture and hold the attention of those who are really picky that make me a better Blogger each day in every way.

      Thanks David, nice of you to have dropped by. Appreciate it.

  3. Hello Ivan,
    Like David has stated above I too rarely open any of my emails, I actually have unsubscribed to almost all lists I was on!

    Now as for my list Yikes I did suck and all your tips are right on I was not doing any of them.

    Great share
    Chery :))

    • Thanks Chery,

      I’ve also unsubscribed from a ton of newsletters. My inbox is so much cleaner now. I’m a lot more strict on myself about which newsletters I subscribe to.

      Sometimes when I download an eBook I want I get automatically subscribed to their newsletter. I wait for the first one to arrive and unsubscribe immediately.

      I’m happy you’ve figured out that you can (and must) make a change when emailing anyone on your mailing list. You will see a whole lot of improvement in visitor engagement when you do. Converting some of them into paying customers is going to be relatively simple after they’ve grown to trust you and look out for your newsletters

  4. Hey Ivan!

    Email marketing is a very important part of a successful business online, and even offline now!

    We must take the time to learn the right ways to benefit from it.

    One thing that I have learned over the years, with email marketing, is that there is no very specific advice you can follow. There are the principles to how an effective email marketing campaign should work – but never exactly what you need to be doing.

    One example would be the frequency of your emails.

    I have met many 6 – 7 figure earners online, and they all have different advice for “how often you should email your list”.

    Now, you do need to send email often – that would be the principle. But, there is no very specific answer to how often and how many email per day, per week?

    This is where your own split testing comes into play. And the type of audience and the niche you are working with.

    One good advice I learned from a top earner online, is that you should look to email your list at least 3 and more times per day.

    Others would tell you 3 or more emails per day is too much. But that is because they have different audiences and they are capturing their leads in a different way. So, of course what works for others might not work for them, and not realizing this, they will assume the advice of emailing your list 3+ times a day is not good advice.

    I think that is what happens with email marketing advice. People do not realize that answers vary, a lot.

    The reason why this top earner was telling me to email my list 3+ times per day, is because, chances are the lead has opted in to other similar marketer’s list. So, they get emails from many people – and if you only send out one email, by the time the open their inbox, it might be all the way at the bottom. And they might not pay good attention to it.

    If you sent more than 3 emails in a day … you have a good chance for one of your emails to be at the top of their inbox.

    Now, of course, this advice might not work well with everyone. And, again, that is because we all get leads in a different way, we are in different niches, and we take the lead through different processes.

    This would be my piece of advice on email marketing! 🙂

    You have shared some great tips as well, Ivan!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Keep up the great work!

    I like your blog here too! … very neat and clean!

    Enjoy your week! 😀

    • Hi Freddy,

      Man its good to see you on my new Blog site dedicated to Digital marketing. Oh Yes, I’ve learned what you’ve picked up as well, there are no hard and fast rules to follow when running a successful Email marketing strategy.

      That said, there are simple, commonsensical things that one ought to do when running an Email campaign, especially if its on auto pilot run via MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber. The worst thing one can do is create about 24 to 25 standard, horribly boring emails and ensure that these get dispatched to your subscribers twice a month. Nothing turns a subscriber off than receiving a sort of disinterested Email once in every 15 days.

      On the other hand any Email that delivers content that solves a reader’s problems steadily and in a straightforward way will be anxiously awaited for by your reader.

      Yep, I understand what your are saying about the advice of mailing your list 3 to 3 times a day given by your mentor. What concerns me is the quality of the Email content. Its would take a huge effort to ensure that the emails indeed added value to your reader, 2 to 3 times a day. A couple of crappy emails and either your Emails will remain unopened, get thrashed or worse recipients will simply unsubscribe and you’ve lost a lead and potential business.

      I for one connect with my subscribers / readers twice a week Mondays and Fridays. I really take a keen interest in what I’m saying to my subscribers. Its paying off. I do get an unsubscribe or three a month but on the other hand I’ve got a lot more additional subscribers because someone has forwarded my newsletter to their friends.

      I’m glad you’ve liked the look and feel of my new Blog Freddy coming from you that’s music to my ears. I’ve been building this site myself for about 2 months its still not 100% (I sometimes wonder when it will be) but I’m plodding along happily. My first love has always been coding, my second being writing.

      Thanks for sharing Freddy. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

  5. Hi Ivan,

    Those are good reasons why your email marketing doesn’t work for sure. We can’t sound like a brand or a machine, we definitely have to sound like a real person.

    At times I register to news letter just to see how they do it, and there are things that people do that sound so phony, I can’t believe that they don’t see that.

    In my case, I have to admit that I haven’t fully invested in my list until now, but I’m getting better.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sylviane,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Really appreciate this.

      Far too many people get almost zero response from their email marketing efforts. While this could be due to a ton of reasons, I believe that there is one reason right at the top of the pile. Communicating engagingly with the reader.

      The fist hurdle being an arresting Email subject line so that the reader who sees this in their mail box clicks on the Email to open it. If you Email open rates are really sad then it really is time to step back and check your email subject line content.

      Oh Yes! there are tons and tons of real, phony people sending out real phony marketing emails. I really think they grossly underestimate the intelligence of people.

      Start getting invested in your mailing list Sylviane it does really pay off in the long haul.

      Reach out if you ever want to bounce a few ideas around. I’d be happy to do that anytime.

  6. This kind of marketing is one of the most affordable, effective ways to market your business and get paying customers. However, since it is rampant, some business owners and entrepreneurs are not using it properly, or they aren’t using it at all.

    Many businesses fall flat in this kind of strategy to make a sale. I do agree with your tips shared.

    If your subject line stinks, logically, your emails will NOT get opened and they WILL get deleted. When it comes to consistency, you need to email your list AT LEAST once per month.

    This helps everyone to be more aware of their actions in email marketing. Pretty sure, if they care about their business, they will take action on saving the strategy they opt to convert a sale.

    • Hi Metz,

      Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your comments. Really nice of you.

      Like you, I’ve always found email marketing a really effective way of driving business income for my client’s web based businesses.

      Regretfully, Inbound email marketing is one of the most underutilized (or abused) marketing techniques available to Internet marketers today.

      I think this is simply due to the the enormous amounts of SPAM email that have damaged the reputation of email marketing.

      Additionally, far too many Internet businesses do not have the time or want to take the trouble to apply Inbound marketing principles to their email strategy / content.

      I believe that a well planned and executed Inbound email marketing strategy delivers the cheapest cost of customer acquisition today.

      Thanks for sharing Metz.

  7. If any strategy applicable for online business does not address the real needs of the customer, it is bound to fail. This is applicable to email marketing as well.

    The main reason why email marketing will fail is when the process does not help the reader/subscriber to solve a particular problem.
    I guess the reasons shared in this post can be summarized under this point.

    Email marketing that will succeed often embrace clear contents that readily offer value to subscribers at every point in time!

    I left the above comment in as well.

    • Hi Sunday,

      You said it perfectly Sunday. Any Email marketing strategy will fail when it does nothing / adds no value to the recipient.

      What’s most unfortunate really is how few email marketing strategists understand this simple home truth and ensure that their email content adds value is some way or the other to the recipient.

      Thanks for stopping by Sunday. Really grateful that you did.

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