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6 Email Marketing Challenges And How To Overcome Them

Shane Barker
Shane Barker

Email continues to be considered the most effective marketing tactic. It's also one of the least difficult to execute according to research conducted by Marketing Charts.

However, like all other marketing channels, email marketing has its fair share of obstacles to overcome.

The good news is that there’s always a solution to these email marketing challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest issues plaguing marketers and the solutions for each.most effective and difficult digital marketing tactics chart

1. Earning New Subscribers

A recent report from Campaigner on the biggest email marketing challenges for 2016 revealed that earning new subscribers is #1. The report was based on a survey of 506 email marketers who claimed that increasing open rates was the biggest problem for them the previous year.

biggest email marketing challenge chart

Related Article: You've Got Mail: The Comprehensive Email Marketing Guide


The best way to overcome the issue of earning new subscribers is to clearly state the benefits to your customers. Having a clear value proposition will help in answering the key concerns people have before hitting that opt-in button. Maybe you’re providing meaningful product updates or giving special offers that aren’t available anywhere else online.

Let people explicitly know why they should subscribe to your emails and how they will benefit from doing so.

Remember to always grow your email list organically instead of buying subscribers. You could promote the email subscription on your website by launching a sidebar opt-in box. You could also add a signup button at the end of your posts. Offering an incentive like a free trial or sample in exchange for subscriptions is another solution.

2. Increasing Open Rates

The Campaigner report shows that increasing open rates continues to be one of the biggest email marketing challenges marketers will face in 2016. While 26.3 percent of respondents felt that it will still be the top issue, 20.2 percent believed it will be the second biggest challenge in email marketing.


There are a number of ways you can increase the open rate for your marketing emails. Your focus should be writing eye-catching email subject lines because it’s the first thing recipients will notice about your message. You'll need to craft a subject line that's short and concise to immediately grab the attention of the recipient.

Great subject lines make subscribers want to read the rest of the email.

Sidekick research found that personalized subject lines were 20 percent more likely to be opened than non-personalized ones. The study also revealed that subject lines that had 30 or fewer characters performed the best in terms of open rate. So the key is to write short and personalized subject lines directly addressing the recipient.

3. Improving Deliverability

It won’t matter if you craft a compelling email with an interesting subject line if all your emails get sent straight to the spam box. Passing the spam filter has always been one of the huge email marketing challenges for marketers. There are also deliverability issues arising out of a full inbox or non-existent email address.

When your deliverability rate is exceptionally low, you may get blocked by Internet service providers. Low deliverability is also a sign of wasted time, money and effort.


You can avoid getting filtered into the spam box by avoiding spam words in your subject lines. The variety of words that can set of spam filters varies by industry. However, some common examples include: buy, cash, earn $, save $, sale, subscribe, make $, click, free, trial, cost, cheap, prize, and unlimited. Avoid these as much as possible to thwart email marketing challenges.

Related Article: Simple Steps to Optimizing Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing challenges includes common spam words that ends up in spam box

While there’s not much you can do about full inboxes, you can still significantly improve your deliverability rates. For instance, you might want to remove contacts that have been inactive for a long time. Determine whether you have contacts in your email list that never open your emails or engage with your website, and delete them.

You can also avoid the non-existent email address issue by adding an extra step in the opt-in process. Perhaps you could ask people to enter their email information twice or confirm their email address through a confirmation email. In case subscribers change their email address or lose access to their existing one, give them the option to easily update their contact information.

4. Retaining Subscribers

What’s the point of growing your email list if you’re also losing subscribers every minute? According to the Campaigner report, retaining current subscribers makes it to the top five biggest email marketing challenges for marketers. If you have a bunch of active subscribers, make every effort to keep them.


The best way to ensure that your current subscribers continue to subscribe is by sending out relevant emails to the right audience. This means that you'll have to correctly segment your email subscription list. Using segmentation, you can address the different pain points of various buyer personas. According to Lyris, email list segmentation results in a lower unsubscribe rate for 28 percent and greater customer retention for 21 percent of marketers.

email list segmentation results chart

5. Low Click-Through Rates

Another of the top email marketing challenges for marketers is improving email click-through rates and maintaining a constant number. Even if recipients open your emails, it doesn’t mean they’ll read through the entire thing and click on the links inside. If they're not clicking, you don’t have a good chance of converting them into paying customers.


Email list segmentation not only helps with subscriber retention but also with click-through rates. Yet your low click-through rates may be simply a result of disinterested subscribers. What you can do to fix this issue is run a re-engagement campaign every year. Send out emails asking subscribers if they want to keep receiving your emails and offer an opt-out option.

Low click-through rates can also be email marketing challenges because you’re sending emails too frequently. In fact, The Relevancy Group and LiveClicker conducted a research study which found that high frequency of emails was the biggest reason why consumers disliked getting marketing emails on their phone. Give subscribers the chance to customize the frequency based on their preferences.

email marketing challenge is ignorance of email chart

Another solution is to use a responsive design for your emails. This is key because 65 percent of emails are being accessed using a mobile device today. If your emails aren't properly optimized for mobile, they may take too long to load or become unreadable with small font sizes. This can result in disinterested recipients and lower click-through rates.

6. Achieving Measurable ROI

Last but not least, measuring the performance of campaigns is another of the significant email marketing challenges. As a result, marketers often have difficulty in achieving measurable ROI. Maybe you saw a four percent increase in CTR for your latest email blast, but did you experience any increase in conversions or leads?


Closed-loop marketing can help you in achieving measurable ROI for resolving your email marketing challenges. Close-loop marketing would require you to follow a subscriber from the first point of contact (visiting your website) to their final conversion into a paying customer.


It’s likely that there will always be new email marketing challenges just like any other marketing channel. But don't give up because you can always overcome such problems by making the right moves and observing your performance. Use the tips mentioned above to handle the current biggest email marketing challenges and watch your efforts start paying off in conversions.

Image Credit: dima_sidelnikov / Getty Images
Shane Barker
Shane Barker Member
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.