Top 7 Reasons Email Marketing Fails

Tami Wessley
Posted by Tami Wessley on June 26, 2013

looking_out_at_sea“To email market or not to email market, that is the question.” OK, I took some liberties with Hamlet’s quote but it’s still a good question. It seems like every day new data is shared about email marketing; sometimes that data creates more confusion than it resolves.

We see proof every day that email marketing, when done right, is very effective. However, doing it right is the key. We present you with: 7 causes of email marketing failure and easy steps to fix them.  



Subject line is a turn-off: 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line and 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.

Talk specifically to your audience: Make sure your subject line is relevant and personal. Click-through rates increase significantly when the recipient’s first name and/or company name are included in the subject line. Also make sure to use language that encourages them to read more. “Posts,” “Jobs” and “Secrets” are the most clicked-through words in subject lines.

Unknown or unwanted sender: 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address.

Be real:,, etc. are sure-fire ways to get marked as spam. Always use a real person’s name and email address as the sender. This lets recipients feel that someone is behind the solicitation.  

Undelivered email or blacklisting: IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists.

Follow the rules: Adhere to CAN-SPAM rules, use clean email lists and don’t be “spammy.” Find an overview of CAN-SPAM guidelines at


Bad timing: Just like any other message, your best prospects need to hear your offer at the right time. Unfortunately, many email campaigns are planned for delivery at exactly the wrong time.

Follow your prospects’ behaviors: Find the time when your message will be best received. Saturday and Sunday tend to have the best click-through rate at right around 9%. 6:00 AM also has the highest rate of any hour of the day.  

Wrong format: Do you know how your prospects’ prefer to see your messages? How are they viewing their emails?

Make it easy: Technology is rapidly changing the way we absorb messages. We no longer rely on long, detailed messages in a newspaper, magazine or even on our desktop computers. Keep email messages simple and “at a glance.” Recent findings show that over 80% of users read email on mobile devices, prefer images to text and HTML instead of any other format. 

Undelivered emails: Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs.

Use trusted, validated lists: The best email prospects are those that freely give you their contact information. Make sure you have several opportunities on your website for them to give you that information in exchange for valuable content. Well-maintained, authentic lists result in the best possible delivery and click-through rates.  

Unsubscribers and declining interest: If your unsubscribe rates are increasing and your conversions are decreasing, your message may be off.

Be relevant: Sending a blast to your entire list is the best way to lose your audience. Segment your lists by your target personas’ behaviors and interests. Remember, each target type is different and needs to hear something specific from you. Beyond message, don’t over or under send. HubSpot’s most recent email study showed click-through rates in ongoing nurturing campaigns significantly decline after three emails or after 10 days.   

Learn from these common email marketing mishaps and how to address them and you'll be on your way to creating more successful campaigns the drive results. Want to learn more? Download our 10 Ways to Make Your Email Marketing More Effective Tip Sheet

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Topics: Marketing Automation, Email marketing

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