Challenges with Email Lists and Email Marketing

Let's cover 10 specific issues you might be having with your email list that are related to human behavior and copywriting

Waking up to a huge email list with active customers and loyal fans of your work is amazing. No doubt. But getting to that point where your email marketing is sailing right along and storm-free requires effort, time, skill, and careful study.

There are no shortcuts to an intensely successful email list.

But I’m here to help you through some of the muddy waters that can frustrate even the most savvy email marketer, because we’ve been through them all. I picked out the top 10 issues I myself have experienced through the years, and have written some material and resources (okay fine, a plethora) that’ll help you quickly conquer these challenges.

Suppose you have a myriad of issues with your email list and email marketing platform, and don’t know where to start with fixing. You not only have one issue [list mentioned below]; you have several. And when you have several challenges with your email list happening all at once, you’re dealing with a multitude of variables on what could be the problem and what you might need to do differently.

Let’s talk about some of these specific challenges related to your email list and email marketing endeavors.

52 Email List Growth Ideas
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Not enough subscribers

Your email list isn’t big enough (at least, that’s your opinion)!

Small email lists suck. I view small email lists as a limitation to bigger things you could be doing with all that creativity. It’s like getting constantly thrown in the brig despite being the best deck hand, and only being allowed scraps for dinner.

If your email list is less than 5000 in quantity, or you’re not pulling in over 500+ new email list subscribers each month, then you most likely have an issue with email list growth. So this post below is for you, and specifically talks about a few things you can do to improve your growth, as well as provides you with a resource you can check out that dives into this topic even further. Check it out here:

List never grows and shrinks with every email

Your email list growth doesn’t outweigh unsubscribe rate

Generally with this type of issue, there are two main things happening at the same time. One, you most likely have an email list growth problem (from above), as well as a significant attrition rate that’s impacting your email list somewhere in your email sequences, funnels, or emailing behavior.

Bottom line, something is messing with your ability to grow, and instead, you just keep shrinking like a violet. Ack.

The good news is, it’s entirely fixable. And usually this issue revolves around your copywriting, timing, content, and your overall focus. Plus, obviously, all the issues I talk about in the segment about not having enough email subscribers, aka email list growth.

But this issue is a double-whammy, because you’re going to have to focus on two issues happening at the same time. If you find yourself muttering, “Kerrie, I have ALL the issues, this isn’t just the only one”, then luckily for you, you’re in the right place, because I can speak to 10 different email issues with confidence. And I know that if I (being the busy mom of six boys) can fix it and find the time to diagnose / resolve the issues, then I know you can, as well.

Hard work? Absolutely. And you’re going to have to swallow your pride like eating a ship’s parrot. It’s going to taste nasty and hard to gulp down, but it’s a lot better than living your life on scraps. Because when your email list is constantly declining, that means less and less sales emerging from all your hard work on your email list.

So if you’re facing issues related to attrition, or email shrink as I like to call it, this post below is for you. Check it out here:

52 Email List Growth Ideas
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Unsubscribe right after freebie

Are your new subscribers downloading and dashing?

Download and dashing is one of the most annoying, frustrating behaviors that an email list and email marketer will encounter. These are people who want what you have, but don’t want to listen to anything else you might have to say or offer. For example, here are two kinds of download dashers… full disclosure, I reveal more kinds of behavior to watch out for in The Story Your Email List Tells.

  1. The kind who download a freebie once after subscribing, and then immediately unsubscribe. This could mean one of two things: a) they weren’t impressed with your freebie, or decide that you’re not their kind of tea or b) they’re just not interested in investing any of their funds into a paid solution.
  2. The kind who lurks on your social media or Pinterest/YouTube feeds for freebies, downloads several, and will unsubscribe after each and every single download. For whatever reason, which can vary from copycat artists who are there to simply copy your work and words, to people who loathe emails, these download and dashers love to take everything from you with no intent of actually investing in your work.

I’ve dealt with download dashers in a few different ways, and each method I applied worked wonders. Some methods I recommend actually lead to additional sales, and other methods put your copycats and thieves on notice, and the behavior stops (which is what you want!). Plus, you’ll have a better retention rate on your email list, and won’t have so much attrition happening.

So if you’re noticing a lot of unsubscribes after a delivery or within your welcoming sequence, you have a problem! Let’s get started with fixing it, and start you on this blog post:

Downloads all freebies and resources but never buys

Some of your email list has been lurking but never investing, and have been following you for a while.

So you’ve got a lurker problem on your hands, right? Stowaways! They’re there on your email list for the ride, but don’t want to invest in the fare. I get it. I’ve seen it before, and successfully curbed that behavior. But initially, it took some creative thinking, a lot of understanding of consumer behavior, condition-filtering on my workflows on Flodesk, and some writing.

Why do people not invest with people they regularly open emails from? Could be a lot of reasons, right? Consider your own reasons on why you may not have purchased something from MY shop recently. And then start a list of why you didn’t invest in everything I ever created and marketed to you. The list starts to add up, right?

So the point is, there’s a myriad of reasons why lurkers may not be making a move. But in this post here: I work you through some questions to ask and things to consider as you contemplate your investment in The Story Your Email List Tells. Get started with that article post, and then when you finally get the courage to download my resource, you’ll have all the details in full along with what I did myself to curb lurkers and get them to buy.

No sales from emails

None of your email subscribers are buying what you’re selling!

You’ve put in a ton of work into your products and services, but you’re not getting bites on your lures. Why? What on earth could possibly be happening with your sales pitches in your emails where you’re getting lackluster results or sometimes… even crickets?

This one rates right up there with having a list full of people that are happy to engage with your free stuff but never buy from you, but surely your entire email list wouldn’t be doing that, right? So it has to be something you’re doing wrong. Unfortunately. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, you can fix it. Email’s beautiful in that sense. It’s not a permanent issue that can’t be undone. You can always make edits to your email marketing funnels and fix the messaging, images, beef things up, provide clarity, or even make things less confusing for your reader.

This issue comes laden with a zillion questions. You have a problem with this issue specifically, I’m going to have a zillion questions to ask you about! That’s just the nature of this issue. Launching products and services or even nurturing your audience about them has a lot of variables involved, and some of them are the product / service itself, and don’t even relate to the emailing about them. At all.

But more than likely, you have an issue with messaging. Establishing value, overcoming customer apathy, communicating the answer to two essential questions your email needs to answer (discussed in The Story Your Email List Tells).

If you’re NOT getting sales from your emails like you’d want, and you DESIRE to have more sales from your emails, then by all means, read this post to get started on your journey towards making this situation better for you:

Low open rate for email marketing

Are your emails boring or lack value?

Low open rates are fairly common in email marketing. Listen, you’re a creator of some sort; an entrepreneur who is trying to wear all the hats at the same time. [Sounds ridiculous, right?] You probably don’t have a degree in marketing, and you’re trying to save money by doing everything in your business yourself. Hey, no judgment here; I’m the same way.

The number one reason why people struggle with getting people to open up their emails is solely based on one thing: copywriting. You have a copywriting problem. It’s not a domain reputation thing, an email service thing, your brand name [there’s a company called Big Ass Fans and their emails are hilarious], or the age of your list.

You have a basic, bottom-line-it-for-you copywriting problem. You probably didn’t graduate with a degree in business communications. And even if you did, email marketing is a whole other animal than writing business letters or effectively communicating bad news to customers / colleagues.

Copywriting is a creative means for messaging. What’s the message? What’s the call out, who is the email specifically for, and will your reader feel seen or connected to that email subject line? These are the questions I help you start out with before you invest in The Story Your Email List Tells. You can read up on your low open rate problem here: Then afterwards, you’re going to want to download the eBook to start working through the tactical tasks and carve out your strategy!

Low email to blog rate in nurturing sequence

No one reads all your helpful tips and added value content!

Let’s say you’ve put together a lot of content on your website, and you’re super proud of it. But you start linking to these posts or informative content pieces on your website, and you’re not getting click-throughs from your emails. What is happening?

After all, the people who are on your list specifically signed up for this kind of content, so why don’t they want to read more?

This is a copywriting problem. Your content isn’t inspiring action, there’s not enough desire or necessity to click through, no reward, no incentive, and no interest. Which is why this is such a unique problem because you have to be able to fix all of these minor little things with a flurry of wordsmithing.

You could have the best intentions on providing quality information, but getting your reader from Point A (your email) to Point B (your website) is the trick to this. And the shocker here is that you may have conditioned your reader NOT to click through, based on their past experiences.

Want to know specifically what you’re looking for in diagnosing the specific issue you’re having? Start with reading Low Email to Website Conversion Rate from Email Marketing to learn more about this specific challenge with your email list. If you want the shortcut solution to get ALL your email list issues addressed, then consider downloading The Story Your Email List Tells, and get to work. You’ll start to see the success you wish you had, and you’ll be able to fix ALL the problems every email marketer tends to experience from time to time.

52 Email List Growth Ideas
Download this FREE guidebook and start building an email list fast!
Thank you for subscribing!

Your email sequences are all out of whack and unorganized

Moving your audience from one funnel to the next seems chunky and lacks transition

Today’s subscriber is pretty savvy. Smart. Intelligent. They know they’re in these things called email funnels, a series of automated emails designed to capture their hearts, minds, and wallets. Right?

And this is why moving your reader from one email to the next in an organized, thoughtful manner is critical. Because you don’t want to go from telling a story about what you did six years ago with a business friend at a luncheon to an email about the color of nail polish you’re choosing to wear to represent your brand persona without being able to tie those two subjects together. Have you ever been on an email list where each email is literally a surprise and nothing seems to flow together? Just bouncing from one thing to the next?

Frustrating, right? These are hard-to-follow creators, unfortunately. While the content in the email itself is good, nurturing email sequences are supposed to flow to continue an ongoing conversation.

What about organizing nurturing emails? Should you use a level system or should you flow your subscribers neatly from one subject to the next? For example, is it ideal to start with generic, basic information, and then work your way into more technical or difficult topics? Or is it better to do a rewards-based tier system and reward your reader with additional content downloads based on where they’re at in their subscription longevity? Or, is it best to offer a sort of table of contents so that your reader can pick and choose what they want to learn or focus on next?

Lots of choices, right? In The Story Your Email List Tells, I describe some of the ways you might want to consider organizing both your emails and funnels. But start with this article here: This will help you work through some of the challenges with organizing your emails and funnels so that you can have a better flow. Because email marketing is all about your message; who wants to have an ongoing conversation with someone who jumps topics mid-conversation?! If you want to skip the article and go straight for the full solution on this topic, and get ALL my ideas, you can check out The Story Your Email List Tells.

You’re not telling any stories in your emails

You’re having trouble relating to your audience

Having issues with relating to your audience? Feeling like they’re not getting to know, like, or trust you? Your sales would certainly be better if they understood your perspective, right? You betcha.

You’re probably not telling any stories that help create that coveted emotional connection you wish you had with your audience. Hint – the magic in this is it’s all in the story. Want to change or persuade hearts, minds, and wallets to open up to you? You need a good story. And not just one, I suppose. Several.

Because you’re going to need one big large story, several medium-sized ones for your email marketing funnels, and hundreds of small stories for your blog posts, social media posts, and ongoing content.

Stories are what is going to help you be relatable, inspiring, and worth listening to. We learn from stories. They’re as ancient as our culture of communication. So why not use them more to share your thoughts?

Get started with fixing that issue with this article: Full disclosure, I teach Storytelling for Creatives and in that course, you’ll learn this must-have skill as a marketer. But I do focus on how to use storytelling specifically within your emails to convey your thoughts and encourage sales in The Story Your Email List Tells, if you want a quick shortcut to all the answers to make this fix in your emails.

You’re not selling unless you’re emailing

You may need help with nurturing and nudging.

Are your sales stats spiky? Like you can tell when you sent out a launch email? Truthfully, if you’re handling your nurturing email sequences right and allowing them to do the bulk of the work FOR you, instead of you having to email your list every time you create something new to launch, then you shouldn’t have spikes in your sales.

As nice to see as they are, a steady flow of income is more desirable rather than spike activity in your sales reports. Why? Because a steady flow of income has more value than a hit-or-miss launch can have. That’s the truth!

But what if you’re not selling unless you’re emailing? Here’s the thing – I don’t view nurturing sequences as email blasts. I treat those as conversations and nurturing / educational content with my audience. I view nurturing funnels as a way to enlighten my audience and open up questions for contemplation and thought. And those still make money.

So if you’re having to email your audience every week or month with a new launch just to make income, your nurturing funnels are not nudging your audience in the direction you ideally want them to take. You’re relying too much on email blasts, and at the same time, aren’t getting enough inbound traffic to purchase from your shop.

These are problems worthy of fixing! Start with this article post here: If you want the shortcut and have ALL the solutions, tactical tasks, metrics, goals, and strategies to fix up your email list, check out this resource: The Story Your Email List Tells.

This is a 160+ page interactive guidebook that walks you through specific email list challenges and provides 10 solutions/activities to work on for each situation. Plus, you’ll learn metrics you can work on and what to look for, how to encourage more sales from those lurking & downloading, but never buying, and how to set up workflows that combat inactivity, low open rates, download dashers, and more. And finally, you’ll learn an easy to implement system to get your funnels organized, and create a smooth transition from one to the next.

10 challenges with tactical & strategic solutions for the creative email list marketer. A 100+ page interactive guidebook to help guide you through 10 different email list challenges, including:

Inside you’ll receive activities, tactical solutions, and a larger strategy to make your email list building and management effective and easy.

You’ll learn:

  1. What the problem seems to be (the cliche response) versus what the problem actually is
  2. Tactical steps to improve each scenario
  3. Strategies to implement that will align your brand with a bigger picture result
  4. Metrics to shoot for at various stages (beginner, advanced, intermediate)
  5. Goals (both long- and short-term) to work on each month
  6. My own story with each challenge and what I did to correct them (a behind-the-scenes look at my funnels, stats, and more)
  7. Workflows to set up to conquer download dashers and set up rewards-based system to give favor to your most loyal readers
  8. What to check in diagnosing any of these challenges
  9. How to test and measure results
  10. Quick fixes (for the short-term results) and long-term solutions (for achieving those big dreams of yours)
  11. Other thoughts and suggestions I’ve given clients I’ve worked with and implemented myself that have been helpful.

Ready to finally solve your email list growth challenges once and for all? Download the guidebook today!

pst! – I do not accept money for my editorial content or posts. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by third parties. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. This helps keep the blog running!

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