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Why aren’t customers reading your marketing emails and what to do about it

By 9th November 2020January 24th, 2023No Comments

Everyone’s inbox is full of emails they haven’t opened. There are far too many emails for you to pay attention to all of them, and most of them make you wonder why you’re still subscribed. Your own business’ emails might be getting the same lukewarm reception but you can do something about it.

HubSpot suggest that small businesses use promotional emails for five specific purposes:

  • Engage with customers
  • Make people more aware of your brand
  • Promote your content so it doesn’t sit on your website feeling unloved
  • Get more sales or leads
  • Pay attention to people who haven’t bought or committed yet

Every email should have a purpose and commit to that purpose throughout, whether it’s an offer code designed to encourage a rush of sales or something more educational. Get it right and you could turn your email list into a genuinely consistent business booster.

This is what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.

The subject line isn’t relevant to them

As our email platforms and apps have changed subject lines have stayed relevant. They’re the first thing people see and they’re a big part of why someone clicks.

Global emailing platform MailChimp suggests businesses personalise, keep it brief, and are specific. If there’s a sale, a specific instruction, or something you really want the reader to pay attention to, it needs to be in the subject line.

If you’re not sure what’s working try A/B testing your subject lines. You can try out two alternatives and then stick with whatever gets the most opens.


It looks all wrong on mobile

We’re all checking the majority of emails on our phones so the text, imagery and call to actions need to convert to a small screen size. If it’s too small or the functionality doesn’t adapt, the opener is unlikely to persist with it. You don’t want them to have to go to desktop to find out what you want. It would take a very patient customer to do that…

Most email marketing tools will automatically adjust your email content to mobile and you can check it before it sends. That saves a lot of design time and ensures the email isn’t going to be wasted if it’s opened on an iPhone.

The main offer or benefit is hidden at the bottom

The subject heading is clear and compelling so the rest of the email should be too. Try to stick to just one of your email purposes instead of trying to fit too much in. The reader shouldn’t have to scroll too much to find what they need or what they’ve been promised.

Again, your email design tool will be able to help you with this. There are ‘readymade’ templates there for you to choose from and they’re all designed to put the essentials front and centre.

There’s just too much going on

Marketing emails are not the time for lots and lots of text unless you have an established understanding or format with your mailing list and they’re expecting a short read. Most of the time though, brief is best.

If it’s an instructional ‘Your order is on its way’, you can keep it that simple. If you want them to watch a video, that’s pretty much all you need to include. Don’t worry about white space or think it looks too brief and needs padding – people love short emails.

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