Common Struggles with Email Marketing

Getting a successful email marketing program off the ground isn’t easy. There are a lot of moving parts. Email service providers may make it sound simple but it takes time, strategy and resources to succeed.

Here are some of the biggest struggles I hear from business owners who don’t have an email program or are struggling to gain traction.

Time and Resources

Excuse #1: “I don’t have the time to do email marketing on top of everything else I’m already doing.”

Email is among the top methods (if not the #1 way) to market a product or service. When compared to other forms of advertising it has the potential for the highest return on investment.

Think about this…

Let’s say you sent out one email campaign per month. Between the time to plan, design, write, test and develop the campaign you might be looking at $500 or more (depending on your list size and brand requirements) to pull it off.

If you were selling shirts at $30/each with a 50% markup you’d need to sell 34 shirts to break even. With a very small list of 1,000 people you’d only need 3% of them to make a purchase.

Email marketing isn’t only about direct sales. It’s about making a connection with your audience, building a long-term relationship, giving them a reason to tell their friends about you.

Think about what one subscriber could be worth to your company. Each person has the ability to talk about you, to encourage their friends to shop with you.

Every email you spend time sending out has a greater potential than just pleasing your bottom-line.

It only takes one subscriber to grow your business.

Email Software

Excuse #2: “I don’t understand how to use the email software.”

Not every email service provider is created equal. But email marketing isn’t necessarily simple either. It can get complicated in a quick hurry when you start setting up automated emails, multiple segments and groups as well as understanding how to play by the rules.

Like everything in business, it takes times to learn new software. Hire someone to help you learn how to use the software. Or better yet, have them do it for you so you can spend time running your business.

Don’t make a learning curve your excuse to push email marketing aside.

Capturing Emails

Excuse #3: “My list isn’t big enough yet.”

I hear this one a lot. “I don’t have enough subscribers to make it worth while to spend money on an email campaign.”

This is a misconception.

As I mentioned earlier, all it takes is one brilliant subscriber to make a purchase and tell all of their friends about you. Just one.

Email marketing isn’t about who has the biggest list. Remember, the more subscribers you have the more expensive each campaign becomes to send. Most email providers charge based on the size of your list.

It’s about quality, not quantity.

If you wait too long to start sending emails, your subscribers are going to forget they signed up for your list. The chances of them marking your campaign as spam goes up the longer you wait.

It’s all about consistency…


Excuse #4: “I can’t seem to stick to a schedule”.

This is the biggest challenge we face in life.

Have you ever learned to play a musical instrument? How about a sport?

The more you practice the better you become. The tough part is keeping up with it.

That is what separates the great players from the average joes. It’s also the basis for a growing a successful business.

Your subscribers expect to hear from you when they sign up for your list. Planning ahead and well, having a plan at all is a good way to start achieving consistency.

Start planning by creating an email calendar.

Create a spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Send Date
  • Email Completion Date
  • Subject Line
  • Primary Goal
  • Secondary Goal
  • Theme
  • Content Ideas/Notes
  • Product List (and inventory check)
  • Graphic Ideas

Complete your calendar with at least 10 ideas. Make an effort to look at your email calendar every week or as new ideas come to mind. Having a place to capture your ideas (and your team’s ideas) will get you started down the right path.

Content Ideas

Excuse #5: “I don’t know what to put in my newsletter.”

Even if your selling a single product or service there are so many things you can be communicating to your subscribers. But how do you come up with new ideas for each campaign?

If you haven’t already, make sure to grab our free guide with 101 content ideas when you sign-up for our email newsletter (below).

There are a number of different ways to come up with ideas. Here’s a list of 101 Ways to Source Content Ideas to get you started.

Some of my favorite ways to develop new content include:

  • Q&A: Answering common customer questions
  • Process: How you make your products or what it’s like behind the scenes at your company
  • Current Events/News/Movies: Relate them to your products and entertain your subscribers
  • Customer Reviews or Interviews
  • Unusual Holidays
  • Re-use Blog Content
  • Preview New Features or Upcoming Products (Sneak peeks)
  • Ask Your Subscribers
  • Look to Social Media for Hot Topics

Email marketing can do wonders for your business if you can overcome some of these challenges.

What other struggles do you face when it comes to email marketing?

I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts on Twitter @OpenMeritEmail

Sarah Shuda
Sarah Shuda
Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living, and long walks in the country.