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3 email marketing fails that can be turned into wins

Email marketing was one of the hottest buzzwords of the past decade, and it’s likely to remain popular in the coming years.

And for good reason – despite being flooded with dozens, if not hundreds of emails per day, people continue to open emails at an impressive rate. Email is a great way for companies to remain in contact with a target userbase of people who have expressed interest in their offerings.

Nobody likes junk mail; not in their mailbox, and not in their inbox. But a really great email can bring a slew of highly targeted leads or sales to a business and can prove to be a pivotal part of any company’s digital marketing strategy.

There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of tools available to help you make better, more actionable emails and is a great place to start reading about all the leading email marketing tools, with over 140 updated reviews and comparisons.  This article isn’t going to focus on those. Instead, it’s going to focus on three lessons we can learn from email marketing failures and frustrations.

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1 – Unsubscribes Are a Good Thing

Getting an unsubscribe is similar to getting unfriended on Facebook, but you actually know about it (as opposed to on Facebook, where unfriending is much more discreet). It feels pretty bad when someone unsubscribes to your newsletter, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, you probably don’t want those people on your list anyway. Why not, you might ask?

When people unsubscribe from your email list, it’s a sign that they just aren’t that into you. If that’s the case, they probably aren’t going to buy your product, sign up for your promotion, or open further emails.

In other words, these people will just be a drag on your email stats – they’ll lower your open rates, reduce your click rate, and serve no real purpose at all.

Another reason that unsubscribes can be a good thing is because it gives you the chance to see what isn’t working, and to adjust your email strategy accordingly. Likewise, if you look at what mails do not get unsubscribes, you can learn more about what your audience does like to receive.

In cases where you receive an unusually high number of unsubscribes, pay attention not only to the subject line, but to the design of the mail, the content inside the mailer, and any other things that may have triggered a strong reaction from your readers. What you learn may surprise you – and it will certainly help you craft your messages moving forward.

2 – Learn from Low Open Rates

When people don’t open your emails, stop and consider why.

Is it the subject that’s unattractive?

Is the mail going into the spam folder?

Is the mail going out at the wrong time of day or week?

There are many aspects of a low open rate that you can test. Many people are surprised to learn that sending emails on the weekends can increase conversion rates because readers have more time to browse through their email during their down time. Some companies find that the time of day makes a difference.

In the financial world, for example, sending out content at the opening of the markets tends to be more relevant than sending content during the trading day, when people don’t have as much time to check their mail.

Online retailers may find it better to send mails during the evening so that people can browse through the online catalog without being rushed or afraid that a supervisor will wander by.

If you’re sending mails at a time that is especially saturated, such as the holiday season, consider whether your mail is just getting lost in the abyss. Maybe you want to send your mailer a bit earlier or choose a very explosive subject that is sure to stand out from the crowd.

The advantage of a low open rate is that hopefully whoever does open the email really wants to take action on your offering. Keep that in mind as well – if it’s not the case, take a hard look at what you’re doing, and try to rebuild and revamp your strategy from the ground up.

3 – To Segment or Not Segment?

If you have a large email list, it’s highly likely that your message isn’t relevant to all of your readers at once. Think about it – if you’re advertising sweaters or snow boots, do you want to be sending that mailer to people in Florida or Cancun?

If you’re selling consulting services, do you want to advertise to medium and large size businesses (who likely have talented team members already), or focus your energy on small companies that will really value your expertise? Maybe you offer different services that you can offer bigger companies? If you offer accounting software, maybe you want to send a different email to those you can pinpoint as providing in-house accounting services and those who provide freelance services.

If you can segment your email list to offer more targeted promotions to each relevant audience, you have a higher likelihood of having a successful email blast, both in terms of open rate and in terms of click through rate. It’s also a good idea to break down your email list and test different offerings to each list, so that you’ll know what works for each group and what doesn’t.

There is no golden bullet when it comes to sending emails – some will work, others won’t.

But taking a thoughtful approach to your mailers and making an effort to learn from each send will help you fine-tune the process and improve a bit with each new send. At the end of the day, your readers will be more satisfied with your offerings, and you will be more satisfied by the results.

Sari Holtz is the Partner Manager at, a financial portal that offers market updates, trading signals, and Forex broker reviews to traders around the globe.