Overcoming Common Email Marketing Obstacles

If you’re having more trouble with email marketing than you anticipated, that’s okay. You’re not the only one. From difficulty growing your email subscriber list to not having enough time to create an engaging follow up series, the challenges are abundant.

To help you get over some of the most common email marketing obstacles, here are some tips to keep in mind:

When you have no time:

If you’re a one-person show or the ringleader of a small troupe, prioritizing your responsibilities and managing your time is essential to success. But make sure email marketing is at the top of your (or an employee’s) agenda.

However you plan your email campaign, just make sure you include it as part of the day’s tasks — even if you aren’t planning to send an email every day. Use this time to create new content for your emails or brainstorm fun ways to engage subscribers.

Content ideas that are perfect for the busy small business owner include curating relevant content, repurposing content, and creating a quick checklist or group of tips for your readers.

If you’re spread too thin, consider bringing on a new team member or virtual assistant who can dedicate this important time to your email marketing.

When you don’t know what to write about:

Think about what you want to achieve through email. Do you want to inform subscribers about company updates and featured products? Or are you hoping to give them advice they can use in their daily lives?

Consider the value you hope to bring to your subscribers and be sure to communicate that with them. When a person signs up to receive your emails, the confirmation email should tell them what kind of content they should expect to receive from you.

Other content ideas include news related to your industry, helpful tips, discount codes, and suggested products based on past purchases. Whatever you choose to focus on, strive to remain consistent.

When you’re unorganized:

The more opportunities and campaigns you create to collect new email subscribers, the more difficult it can become to keep your list under control. Stay organized with segmented lists and targeted emails that deliver the type of content people expect from you when signing up.

For example, a trendy clothing boutique might have two email lists: one for those who’d like to receive blog updates and another for those who want an emailed version of their weekly ad. They might also choose to create additional segmented lists based on how they obtain email addresses — if sign ups were collected at a local event, they might create a specific segment and send targeted emails based on their known interests.

By maintaining these lists in your account instead of a pen and paper or grouping them altogether, you’ll be able to send the right emails to the right recipients.

When your deliverability stinks:

If your emails aren’t making it into your subscribers’ inboxes (perhaps bounce rates are high), there are a few ways to improve your deliverability.

Make sure you’re asking subscribers to confirm that they’d like to receive your emails (those who confirm emails are more likely to open them). Additionally, clearly communicate to subscribers what they’ll receive in your emails (e.g. coupons, new product information, customer stories). If they know what to expect in your emails, they’ll be more encouraged to open them and not flag them as spam.

Next, stop using a free email address in the “From” section of your emails. Email services such as Gmail and Yahoo perceive email addresses as spammy if they aren’t tied to a business account. While there is a cost associated with getting a domain-based email account, it’s worth it if it means getting your emails delivered to more inboxes.

Finally, make it easier for people to unsubscribe. Say what?! Although this seems counterintuitive, it can actually help improve your deliverability. Why? Because without it, those who don’t want to receive your emails are more likely to mark you as spam if they can’t unsubscribe. And the more spam complaints you have, the worse your deliverability will get.

When you have inactive subscribers:

Have a growing list of inactive subscribers (i.e. people who haven’t opened up your emails in months)? It’s time to do something about it.

A reactivation campaign is a great way to determine if they want to continue receiving emails from you and who is worth scrubbing off your list.

To do so, send a targeted email to this segment of subscribers and ask if they’re still interested in getting your emails. Let them know that they should contact you within a certain period of time if they want to remain on your email list. Be sure to also remind them of the value of your emails to sway those who may be on the fence.

If people respond positively, that’s great. Keep ’em and hopefully you’ll see an uptick in open rates.

If they decide they’d rather say goodbye, let them unsubscribe or scrub them off your list. While you may see a drop in your total subscribers, it’s for the best. You’ll have more quality subscribers and better open rates in the long run.

When you’re not sure how to grow your email list:

As with any relationship, maintaining the passion can grow weary over time. Things become routine. You lose a little enthusiasm. It happens.

But don’t let your subscriber list go stagnant. Make signing up easy with appealing web sign up forms and take advantage of various opportunities to collect new emails.

This includes leveraging social media to convert followers into email subscribers, as well as asking for email sign ups at local events or in your store after customers make a purchase.

When you aren’t sure what you’re doing:

Confused by the whole email marketing thing? That’s okay too. There are plenty of resources available for beginners:

Take the time now to discover what the experts have to say and implement it.

Are you facing any challenges with your email marketing? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!



  1. CG

    12/16/2014 9:18 am

    Hi Monica, thanks for the great info. I’m in the video and photography productions buisness specializing in food and products work. But I want to approach new potential clients in resort and hotel industry. I have contacted hotel business in my area by phone and asking for the names and emails address of their marketing directors.
    My question is, is it ok to send emails to this potential clients even though they didn’t subscribed? The email I prepared has good info on new trends in their industry that includes the video productions services that I provide. Thank You CGProductionsinc.com

  2. Monica Montesa

    12/16/2014 10:11 am

    Great question!

    In this case, I’d recommend sending direct emails to the marketing directors to introduce yourself and your business. Within the email, you can also ask them to sign up to receive emails from you (the ones with helpful news) and include a link to a sign up form or landing page.

    This will ensure your prospects get a personalized welcome email, as well as the opportunity to formally opt into your list.

    Hope this helps!