4 Common Email Marketing Problems (and how to fix them)

How many marketing emails do you get every day? If you’re anything like me, then it is a lot. But it’s hard to put an exact number on it – because the vast majority go unopened, unread, and unclicked. But they don’t all go unopened and unclicked. So, what sets them apart from the unread hordes? Continue reading to find out how to fix these common email marketing problems.

There are four things an email marketer hates to hear: unopened, unclicked, unconverted, and unsubscribed. These four words are a death blow to any email marketing campaign. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you fix all four potential issues. There will still be a need for further optimization and split testing, but by following these tips you can get your next email marketing campaign off to a good start.


email open rate

The first step to email marketing success is to get your emails opened. It sounds easy, but grabbing people’s attention in our saturated marketed takes some serious skill. There’s no magic bullet to fix unopened emails, but there are three ways to help solve the problem:

  1. Your subject lines shouldn’t be an afterthought. If people are not opening your emails, start by evaluating your subject lines. Are you catching their attention? Are they personalized? Do they generate emotion or curiosity? Spend enough time to craft subject lines that jump out at readers without being click-baity.
  2. Who are your emails from? If they show info@boringcompany.com why would anyone open them? Give your emails a personal touch by coming from a real person (or at least a real sounding fake person).
  3. What about your pre-header? Most people don’t give a second thought to the pre-header – or even know what it is. In many email clients, the first line of the email is displayed below the subject line. So, make sure your pre-header provides some insight into the contents of your email. The combination of subject line and pre-header lets you get creative about teasing your content. Play with options to find what works best for your customers.


email click rates

Convincing customers to open your emails is only the beginning. Once you have their attention, the goal is to earn a click. Typically, this will take them back to your site (or a landing page) and encourage a conversion. But often emails suffer from pitiful click-through-rates.

Click-through-rates are hard to predict, but there are a few things to improve if your emails are consistently underperforming. And almost all of them have to do with optimizing your calls-to-action and buttons.

  1. Consider your button placement. Are they in intuitive and clear locations? Are they designed to stand out? Or do you make your readers hunt for them? Most email readers won’t put in the extra effort – so, make earning a click as easy as possible.
  2. Reread your call-to-action copy. Is it compelling? Or does it need some work? Good calls-to-action will entice a click with appeals to emotion and engaging copy. Writing to encourage clicks is a skill that must be mastered over much practice, but there’s no better time to get started.
  3. Look at your overall design. If your emails look ugly, then why would customers want to see more? Designing emails can be long work that involves thousands of little tweaks, but the result is worth it. If you’re not sure what design gets the best results, consider split testing your next campaign to see what works best.


email conversion rates

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about religion here. I know we’ve already covered a lot of ground, but conversions are the ultimate goal of email marketing. Opens are great. Clicks are great. But conversions are what really matters to the bottom line. So, once you have people opening and clicking your emails it is time to focus on increasing your conversion rate.

Increasing conversion rates is the email marketing holy-grail. It is what separates real marketers from all the pretenders. So, there are no ‘three easy steps to optimize your conversion rates’. But here are the places we start when looking to increase conversions:

  • Focus: What are you asking people to do? Is that clear from the very beginning? If people are expecting one thing and get another, then they are unlikely to convert. Make sure everything in your email is focused on achieving a single goal.
  • Landing Page Problems: I know this is a post about email marketing, but your problem might not be your email. A bad landing page can kill conversions just as fast as a bad email.
  • Calls-to-Actions: Just like clicks, conversions need strong calls-to-action. Pump yours up with action words and emotional pull to keep customers moving through your funnel.
  • Messaging: Your email messaging should be targeted directly to each audience segment. Sending the wrong message can hurt your conversion rate – even among your most loyal customers. Fortunately, email automation technology can help to minimize sending the wrong message.


email unsubscribe rates

We all want opens, clicks, and conversions; but there is one thing no one likes to see: unsubscribes. Losing subscribers is embarrassing – it feels like a vote against your content. But it’s something that we all have to learn to accept. In fact, unsubscribes can be better than leaving your emails unopened.

But just because unsubscribes can be good, doesn’t make it any easier. We all want to minimize our loses, so here are our favorite ways to ensure that you’re not losing valuable contacts.

  1. Make sure your content is top-quality. I know that not always easy, but skimping on your content will always hurt you. No matter how good your subject lines, shoddy content will end up costing you. Take the time necessary to ensure that you’re providing valuable insights to your customers.
  2. Check your frequency. And that might not mean emailing less often. Finding the right frequency is a balancing act –  too much and you wear people out; not enough and you forget why they read your emails. Some emails I get every day and I look forward to them. Sometimes I get emails once a week and unsubscribe. It’s all about your content and your customers’ expectations. Find what works for you.
  3. Avoid clickbait. This is just all around good advice – no one likes clickbait. Nothing makes me hit that unsubscribe (and maybe report as spam) faster than a clickbait subject line. Especially when the content doesn’t live up to the promise. Avoid clickbait – unless your only goal is opens (and that would be foolish).

Email Marketing Fixed

Email marketing, like so many marketing channels, is often abandoned before it has a chance to succeed. Jumping ship because the ROI isn’t there after three months of limited effort is a mistake.

Just like any worthwhile endeavor, email marketing takes practice and effort. But when you start seeing the power of emails that are opened, clicked, and converting; then all the effort is worth it.

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