5 Reasons Why Your Email Marketing Campaign is Failing


Did you know the average person receives an email 100 times per day? That’s a lot of content to digest, which is why most emails will never be opened.


Don’t let this newfound knowledge deter you from crafting an email marketing campaign. When you meet a wall, you don’t stand there and stew. You break that thing down! But you have to find a way to stand out since you’re in competition with millions of other emails.


I like to use this one analogy when talking about this sort of crowded competition. Imagine there are millions of people dressed alike and they’re all yelling, including yourself. There’s a wild cacophony of noise that’s impossible to decipher and only serves to annoy potential customers more than anything.


Now imagine you put on a funny hat. Now give yourself a megaphone. Now you’re getting some attention. But you have to take it one step further now. So you do research and discover the words and phrases people want to hear. You hop back on the megaphone, yell those words and phrases, and the customer singles you out to hear more.


Discovering methods to make yourself unique is what marketing is all about. The Nike’s and Apple’s of the world didn’t become massive on a global scale because they followed a pattern. Daring to be different is what separates success and failure in advertising.


And since you’ve found yourself here, you’re off to a great start.


1. Uninspired Headlines


As is the case with any subject reliant on copy to hook its audience, the first words people read will likely determine whether they’re going to move on to something else or be enticed into reading more.


The success of email campaigns are contingent on just how gripping the headline is, because it is always the first thing people see when scrolling through their messages. It’s importance is heightened once you consider just how many emails the average person receives, with the average office worker receiving 121 emails per day, as of February 2015.


An average consumer that shops online is constantly being bombarded with emails. Every time they’ve given their email to a retail company for discounts, or forgot to click off of that pesky “Click Here If You Want Updates on Discounts!” box at the end of orders, that’s just another email or two or three in their inbox every day. In all likelihood, they’re ignoring them and/or sending them right to the trash.


Finding a way to stand out is an absolute necessity to achieve any semblance of success through email marketing. “33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone” and another “69% of email recipients report email as based solely on the subject line,” according to a recent study by Convince&Convert.


Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to standout. This copywriter’s method is to employ emojis, brackets and caps. In my personal experience of scrolling through my email clutter, I’ve always found myself stopping when coming across those three subject line traits, simply because they caught my eye. I may not click on them, but noticing the email is the first step towards clicking.


But there are certainly other ways. Here’s a few suggestions with the stats to back them up:


  • 61.8% increase in opens when using the word “alert” in subject lines
  • Using the words “Sale”, “New,” or “Video” in subject lines boost open rates
  • The top five subject lines in a recent study all included “Re:”
  • Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened
  • Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate
  • Emails with “Free” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without


If there are ways to succeed, there are ways to fail:


  • Emails with “Quick” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without
  • Emails with “fw:” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without
  • Subject lines with 3 or more words are opened 15% less than those without 1-2
  • 18.7% decrease on open rates when the word “newsletter” is used in subject lines


But opening up the email is only a portion of the battle. There’s still much to be done in the way of content, including this one key that’s guaranteed to deter conversions…


2. Too Long; Didn’t Read


I don’t have to tell you about the shortened attention span caused by social media and journalism’s easy bake oven of content that relies far more on quantity than quality. You already know this, and you’ve most likely applied it to your strategy. In order to succeed online, you need to be concise, succinct, and to the point.


Go any longer and you’re losing your audience. People don’t want to read. They want their information given to them immediately, oftentimes regardless of facts, so they can move onto the next source of sweet, sweet content. Take a look at a vintage advertisement the next time you wonder if everything used to be so short and directly to the point. You’ll find those ads often include a few paragraphs of info detailing the product.


Your emails don’t have to be descriptive novels. If a reader sees a huge block of text, they’re not going to spend the time reading it. Eliminate all of the fluff and include only the key components that will drive the user to convert. Let the reader know what you’re talking about and trying to get them to do, but keep it specific and don’t beat around the bush.


Always use shorter sentences and simpler words. It’s not a Creative Writing class, it’s just an email headline. Just because you’ve been reading Tortilla Flats and want to invoke your inner John Steinbeck doesn’t mean you should.


In fact, sometimes it’s smarter to go no copy in the body at all, especially for sales. You would need a graphic designer to accomplish this, however.


There’s one thing that’s worse than too many words, though, and that is….


3. Too Many Emails!


As I mentioned before, people are already under the constant shelling of email artillery. They wake up, go through and delete their emails. They get to work, go through and delete their emails. It’s lunch, they go through and delete their emails. So on and so on.


With the right subject line, there’s no need to push three or more emails per day. Research the two best times to send emails and push there. The only thing worse than having people ignore your emails is having them notice your emails too much, clicking, and unsubscribing so they can never see your emails again.


Their mouth will be left with a sour taste because of how much you were trying to sell to them. There’s nothing wrong with pushing discounts, but when you’re repeating the same discount multiple times daily it can get tiresome.


Be substantive in your copy, unique in your subject headlines, and send out your emails at the right time. Of course, you always have to make sure that the right people are getting your emails…..


4. Targeting the Wrong People or Too Many people


What’s the point of strategizing and intricately crafting copy when you don’t have a clear focus on who you’re targeting?


Sure you went after the biggest audience that may appeal to some, but your engagement rate is going to suffer, and, most importantly, so is your budget, since it takes more money to appeal to more people. The amount of people unsubscribing from your emails will also grow since they never wanted to see your emails in the first place.


Rather than appealing to the broad masses, narrow your search and target the people who are most likely to buy. If you’re selling wedding flower arrangements, don’t appeal to everyone who likes flowers. Go after the smaller group that’s far more likely to buy; recently engaged couples and families planning a wedding in the near future.


But you should have known all of this before you crafted your emails and pinpointed your targets. If you didn’t, your campaign is probably going to fail because you…..


5. Didn’t Plan a Nurture Flow


Let’s begrudgingly go back to school for a moment and think back to a time you really studied for a test. You did everything possible to get ready. You read the material, made flashcards to remember definitions, key people and dates. You even spent an extra few minutes each night stuffing your mind with juicy morsels of knowledge.


And when you were finally ready to take the test, what happened?


You aced it.


Why? Because you remembered everything. The extra hours you spent studying and the efforts to remember key details paid off because the knowledge ingrained in your mind was easier to recall and regurgitate. The same goes if you’re preparing for a speech. If you spend the time getting to know the subject, you won’t be nervous when the time comes because you’re confident in knowing what you are saying.


Now how are you supposed to feel confident about your email marketing campaign when you don’t plan for it? While it’s not a matter of studying material, preparation is a heavy component of the campaign’s success. This isn’t the time to wing it. You’re investing a lot of time and money, so there should be an incentive for you to prepare.


When you’re creating the nurture flow, consider your whole audience and what your objectives are going to be. What steps do you want them to take? What type of product are you selling? Should you introduce relatable reading material beforehand? Should you tell people more about your company?


Are you trying to convince people to stick around? Send them an initial email, then wait a week and send them another with an added incentive. Still no response? Send them one last email that offers the incentive, but also include an ultimatum that tells the user it will be the last time they’ll receive an email.




This should go without being said. Time and time again, though, someone makes an egregious mistake, sometimes with hilarious results:


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This should be the easiest part of the process since all you have to do is read. It takes no longer than a few minutes, since the email is concise, and it’ll help you immensely in the long run.


Email marketing campaigns aren’t like social media campaigns, where you can sometimes go back and make an edit or at least delete the ads. Once the email goes out, that’s it. It’s hitting inboxes across the globe and whatever glaring mistake you made is what your audience will receive.


Remember to always take time after finishing to proofread the copy. Even if you find nothing wrong grammatically, you may stumble across some wording that doesn’t sit well with you. So this isn’t only the time for a grammar check, it also presents another opportunity to make edits and craft your structure better.


Plus, you took all of this time to craft and strategize. Why not devote ten more minutes to perfecting it?

Like what you just read?
There’s more where that came from.