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13 Reasons Why Your Emails Might Suck

By Jessica Brown

Avatar for Jessica Brown

Imagine you walk into a huge room filled with people and that your goal is to sell your product or services to all of them. What would your approach be?

Email marketing isn’t just typing some words and clicking a button. It’s a conversation with your customers that will help build your relationship, sell your product or service, and make you money. 

So, why is your open rate such a downer? Let’s explore some possibilities.

1. You’re making a bad first impression.

First impressions mean a lot. When introducing yourself to someone, you want to come off as friendly, intelligent, etc. It’s no secret that a great subject line makes for the perfect (digital) first impression. But once you have them hooked, don’t stop trying to impress. Depending on the email service provider, a reader may also see the pre-header or first paragraph of your email as they scan their inbox. All of these pieces should be engaging enough to make a recipient want to read on.

2. You aren’t speaking to the right audience.

If you are sending emails to 20-somethings, you will use different language than you would with senior citizens. Take note of your audience and the kind of messaging they respond to. If you have several audiences that you need to communicate with, consider segmenting your email list and customizing your message according to those segments.

3. You’re not using numbers.

It’s been shown that representing numbers with numerals is more beneficial when writing online. Recipients are scanning for important information, such as statistics, in your emails. Make it easy for them to find.

4. You’re talking too much.

Think about how many emails you get in one day. You don’t get a lot of time to read each one – even the good ones. So you should keep it short and simple. Opening an email that is long and complicated is intimidating and often leads to recipients giving up on reading it completely.

5. You’re not telling readers what to do next.

A call-to-action can be your best friend when you really want your customers to act. Think about the goal you want to meet with your email. Do you want them to sign up for a free demo? Should they call you to learn more? Be sure to tell them what their next step should be!

6. You aren’t making readers feel unique.

I got an email the other day addressed to “[First Name].” This was obviously a case of automation gone wrong, but it led to me immediately deleting the email. Don’t make your customers feel like just another number. Speak to their problems and needs, and take every precaution to avoid any automation snafus.

7. You’re not sending the email from “you.”

You wouldn’t introduce yourself as “An Employee of _______________.” Use your real name in the “From” section of your email so that recipients know that they are speaking to a real person.

8. You don’t reward readers for opening.

If someone takes the time to open your email, there better be something in it for them. Whether it is a great tip that they can use right away or an invitation to download a white paper, rewarding your recipients will end up being a reward to you in the end.

9. You’re cheesy.

Catchy is a good way to get attention, but cheesy is a good way to lose it. There is a very fine line between the two. The key here is to know your audience. If you are reaching out to moms who are looking for a safe toy for their children, you can get a little bit more playful than if you are reaching out to victims of medical malpractice.

10. You only sell, sell, sell.

If you approached every person in that full room and said, “Hello, my name is John Doe. Please buy my product for $100,” you probably wouldn’t get a lot of sales. You need to gain your customer or clients’ trust before you go into the sell. While you can include sales copy in your email, make sure there is more to the email than that. Explain to recipients how your product or service can help them, and give them the option to learn more before they hand over their credit card.

11. You’re saying the wrong thing.

Not all words are created equal when it comes to email. Certain ones can get you stuck in recipient spam folders. provided a full list here, and according to MailChimp, reported that while these words don’t cause emails to get stuck in spam folders, recipients simply don’t like seeing “Help,” “Percent off (% off)”, and “Reminder.”

12. You don’t A/B test.

Something isn’t working with your email marketing. You’re getting a low click or open rate. But what is the problem? Testing out different send times, subject lines, and content, can help you find the weak links in your email marketing. A/B testing means that you send your email to two different lists using two different variables, whether that means subject line or day of the week sent. You then look at your analytics from both email sends to see which performed better so that you can change your plan for next time.

13. You don’t respond back.

You spent time and energy creating your email, sent it out, and got a reply! But if you don’t keep the conversation going, all of that effort is wasted. Never let an email from a customer or client go unanswered. In our busy room scenario, that is the equivalent of someone greeting you and you walking away!

Email is as strong a marketing tactic as ever, and getting strategic with your emails can make you the center of attention in that room full of potential customers. Leave a comment about your own experience with email marketing!