Why People Aren’t Opening your Emails

When you’re sending marketing emails, the main function is that they get read, right? From there you can encourage them to take action, but the first big step that needs to be taken is to click on that bold banner in their inbox and open the email.

However, tens, if not hundreds, of emails drop into every user’s inbox every day of the year, so what makes some of these so much more interesting and engaging (and profitable) to users?

To be perfectly honest, there are millions of different factors that can affect the open rate of your marketing emails, but they can generally be grouped into just a few key categories:

  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of value
  • Lack of understanding

Not to worry though! Right now we’re off to take a look at each of these key categories and a few common, easily overlooked (and easily fixed) ways to build up your email marketing strategy where it’s lacking.

Email marketing is just one part of successful marketing campaigns. To really leverage the power of email, other channels – both organic and paid – need to be incorporated. At Embryo, we can assist with all of these channels thanks to our full-service capabilities. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with our team by phone at 0161 327 2635, email at [email protected], or alternatively, hit the contact button below.

Contact Us

Lack of Trust = Users Don’t Trust or Recognise Your Emails Enough to Open Them

With that many emails dropping into their inboxes every day, users need to do a massive amount of rapid-fire mental filtering to get the content they want, and to bin the rest mentally!

There’s a lot of talk about engaging subject lines (which are very very very very important), but in order to get through that brain filter, your emails have to be SUPER easily recognisable to your users, otherwise, all your lovely subject line work is in vain!!

Choose a familiar “from” name

If your users know you by a certain name, always use that one. For B2C brands, it’ll probably just be your company name, but “X person from X company” can also work, as long as it’s not too long and won’t get lost! If you’re a B2B company or use a model where your users have one key contact at your business, you can get away with using just that contact’s name.

At the end of the day, like all things emails, it’s all about tailoring to your audience (more on that later). The best “from” name is the one that is most familiar to them, whatever that looks like!

Use personalisation in your “to” field and subject lines

When you personalise the “to” field and subject lines with information your users have given to you, you’re immediately more trustworthy. If somewhere has their details, most people assume they have given them over willingly to a reputable company, meaning they must be safe to open.

Direct address is also more engaging – people see their own name and immediately feel like a message is meant personally for them.

Subject line, subject line, subject line

While a subject line can’t save you from all email blunders, it’s still your most valuable tool when it comes to increasing your open rate. There is far too much that goes into a subject line to talk about right now, but there are loads and loads of guides and tools out there that can help you strike that perfect balance between enticing without being spammy. A few of my favourites are MailNinja’s Subject Line Checker, MailChimp’s Best Practices, and OptInMonster’s list of 164(!!!!!) great subject lines.

Lack of Value = Users Learn There Is No Value for Them in Your Emails

It’s easy to use your emails as a newsletter platform and as a way to promote your business directly. Email marketing is great at that! 

BUT (and it’s a very big but)…

Only if there is value for the user as well.

Users don’t really care about the ins and outs of your business unless it impacts them. So hold off on the stuff that only matters to you, and ask with every send “Where is the value for the user? What benefit does opening this email have for them?

Your emails are all about you

As a branding exercise, it’s important to talk about yourself and your business in promotional emails. I’m not saying you should cancel your newsletter and never update your users again unless its a BIG SUMMER SALE !!!!!!!!

Often, newsletters do have value – they make customers feel included and engaged with your business, build loyalty and increase transparency and trust.

 Your emails don’t add value to your customers’ lives

However, make sure a newsletter isn’t all about you. Offering advice, downloads, resources and other pieces of value will ensure you can talk about yourself, without it being all about you.

You’ve got bad design 

Badly designed emails might be full of valuable information, but can anyone find it? When it comes to email ensign, there are lots of different design considerations to be taken into account alongside your regular beautiful design principles!

An email that isn’t designed for different email clients, screen sizes or dark mode will tank your readability and conversions, even if you’re not struggling for lack of value!

Lack of Understanding = You’ve Not Understood (Or Misunderstood) Your Customer’s Wants and Needs

As we mentioned before, success in email marketing is almost entirely based on tailoring activity to your list. Best practice can only get you so far – you need to know who they are, why they are there and what it is they’re looking for.

You also need to understand their usage patterns and the ways they live their lives. This often (particularly for new lists and smaller lists) comes down to a fair bit of trial and error to begin with – that’s okay! The most important thing is building that understanding of your list so you can better serve them in the future.

You haven’t segmented your email lists

The more information, the better, and segmentation is a massive part of this. When you have lots of user information (this can be given by the user or done internally), you’re able to better tailor your offering to them. 

You can segment by almost any category – age, gender, whether they’re in a relationship, whether they have children, if they’re a student or not, the sector they work in, the job title they have, if they’ve purchased from you before if they regularly open your emails, where they signed up, the products or services they’ve bought from you in the past, the list truly is almost endless!

You’re sending too many emails

Your list is fatigued – essentially the email marketing version of the boy who cried wolf. Send too many emails that users aren’t interested in and you risk them dropping off completely, which is really the worst-case scenario, as once they’re gone, you can very rarely get them back.

This is also where segmentation comes into play – if you have a subset of users that opens every single message you send and regularly interacts or converts from your emails, then feel free to send them content more regularly! If they care about it they’ll continue to open it. However, there will be other users who just don’t care that much. They want to know about new drops and sales for example, but they don’t need much beyond that and will become fatigued if you send them content too often.

You’re not tailoring your send times

It seems like common sense, but send emails when people have time to read them 🤷 

The times that will be best for your list are (surprise surprise) unique to your list. If your target demographics are professionals, early to mid-morning tends to be best, while afternoons drop with the traditional 3 pm productivity slump. Think about your target audience and what might work for them and their lifestyles, and then test, test, and test again.

It’s Vital You Get Your Email Marketing Done Properly. So, Why Not Speak to Our Experts Today?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons people aren’t opening your marketing emails. However, they’re pretty common, and even if you’re not having trouble with these specific issues, thinking about your problems in terms of trust, value and understanding can be a pretty good place to start.

Of course, the team at Embryo are always here to help you with your digital marketing, be it email marketing, SEO, social media, PPC, PR or website design & development. Get in touch and have a chat with us to see how we can help!

Contact Us


Latest News & Blogs