This post was contributed by Ross Jenkins of DigitalME.

There are a lot of people who are frustrated with their email campaigns because they seem to be ineffective.

After writing a well-formatted email and pressing Send, a sinking feeling hits – and they’re wondering why their emails get low open rates and non-existing clicks.

And even worse, they’re not seeing an ROI.

Everyone has been there.

If 81% of businesses say that email drives customer acquisition, then why do many businesses feel their email campaigns are a total failure?

You might have also read about how spending $1 for email marketing gives $42 ROI. But why aren’t you making that same success?

The truth is, many email campaigns fail because they are not clear enough to drive the business to its goal. If your emails are failing, you need to do a hard reset. And hard reset doesn’t necessarily mean making huge changes.

If there’s anything I’ve learned after being in the email marketing business for over 10 years, it’s that even the smallest changes can make big differences with clicks and sales.

The 5 reasons your email campaigns are ineffective

Your email campaigns are failing because you’re making these mistakes:

  1. You use boring and spammy subject lines.
  2. You lack call-to-action buttons that hook.
  3. You don’t segment your email.
  4. You send your emails to bad email addresses.
  5. You don’t communicate well with your customers

1. You use boring, spammy subject lines

According to Content Marketing Institute, marketers rely heavily on email for securing and nurturing leads.

But not every business is good at it.

Everyone sends emails to friends, families, and colleagues – shouldn’t sending emails to leads be just as easy?

Sending friendly emails is easy, but sending emails aimed to grow your business is a different story.

When you don’t have a clear strategy, it’s easy to use plain vanilla subject lines that don’t generate curiosity. And when you’re not careful, you might use spammy, trigger lines that will just throw your email to the junk folder.

We all know what that means: emails that go straight to the trash bin cause your business damage even before your leads have had the chance to open them.

2. You lack call-to-actions that hook

Scenario: Three days after sending that *perfect* email, you check your data and see that 80% of your leads opened the email.

Yet, the click-through rate (CTR) is upsetting… in fact, it’s depressing.

If you’re new to email marketing, the click-through rate is the number of recipients who clicked on something in your email..

A low CTR only means one thing: there isn’t anything in your email that tells your leads what they must do.

You have to remember that in marketing, you can’t just assume that people know what they should do. When your email lacks a clear call-to-action, you hurt your own business.

Remember: each email you send is a golden ticket. Your emails should always drive the recipient to take your desired actionーto join your webinar, purchase from your shop, enter your podcast, whatever may that be.

3. You don’t segment your email

Segmenting your email is the first step to deliver personalized messages that target your leads’ specific needs and interests.
Email segmentation not only nurture and keep leads, but it also improves open rates and CTR.
A 2017 report by Axle Data (formerly Yes Lifecycle Marketing) found that emails with personalized subject lines generate 50% higher open rates.
Clearly, if you’re not segmenting your email, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities.

4. You send your emails to bad email addresses.

Your email list impacts your deliverability. If you’re sending emails to people who are unengaged to your email, you’re likely to expect low open rates.

Low open rates are a clear signal to your ISPs that your email recipients are not engaged with your email. And if this continues for a long time, it can damage your email campaigns.

And worst case scenario: your ISP might block your future emails, causing further lack of email engagement.

5. You don’t communicate well with your customers

Being able to send emails to your subscribers is a privilegeーlike a driver’s license, but different. You get the idea.

It’s something they’ve given you permission to.

And if you think about it, email is actually the most personal way of advertising.

Email marketing gives you the chance to build a relationship with new and existing customers. It lets you nurture that relationship and keep the people you have.

But much like a driver’s license, your privilege to email your subscribers can be taken away from you when you don’t communicate well with them.

Thatーand offensive content, the lack of welcome emails, grammar errors, misspellings, and messing someone’s nameーcan make you and your business go downhill.

How to fix these 5 email mistakes

1. Use killer subject lines.

Writing emails can be hard: you’ve got to make it just right… not too long, not too short, not too salesy, and not too boring.

Most importantly, that one line that your subscribers see when they receive your email is what makes or breaks your campaign.

Your subject line should tease your subscribers to open your email.

Be careful with your word choice, though. Trigger words can get your email to the SPAM trap.

Here are some spam words to avoid in your subject lines:

  • Promises: 100% more, 100% free, free access, expect to earn
  • Spammy behavior: dear friend, not junk, not spam
  • Unnecessary urgency: call now, get it now, what are you waiting for?

Check out this subject line from Deposit Photos:


A prudent email marketer uses the element of urgency to create the fear of missing out. What we like about this subject line is that it was sent at the right time without sounding too pushy and salesy. The use of emoji also supported the message. 👏🏼

Here’s another one from Canva:


It’s interesting, curiosity-inducing, and intriguingーI know because I did click the email. When you use a subject line like this, make sure the content has something to do with the subject line.

Need help coming up with an eye-catching subject line? Try the ActiveCampaign Email Subject Line Generator – it’s free!

2. Use a sparkling call-to-action

Your call-to-action, along with your content, is what will drive your customers to take your desired action, thus increasing conversion.

It’s important that you not only tell them what they must do but also show them how to do it.

Make your call-to-action compelling, contextually relevant, and bright, making sure it stands out from the rest of the text.

Oh, and make them easy to find.

Take a look at this promotional email from Drop:


The “Get Yours” button works because it’s personal and relatable. It’s a subtle way to express urgencyーlike telling your customers to get the product before someone beats them to the punch.

Learn more about call-to-action in this ActiveCampaign blog.

3. Use email segmentation that works.

Have you ever received an email that’s totally meant for you? Remember how that felt? Good, right?

Email segmentation is key to sending personalized emails.

Instead of creating one email and sending it to all your contacts, divide your list and send a personalized email to each group.

You can segment your emails by things like:

  • Demographics
  • Survey results
  • Geographic area
  • Email engagement
  • Past purchases

When you segment your email, you build a relationship with them. And a good customer relationship means a lot of good things, including retention and sales.

4. Validate your email list.

Validating your email list is key to making sure that you’re sending your email to the right addresses.

And it saves your sender reputation, too.

A third-party email validation tool (like Blaze Verify) can make sure that you’ve got the correct addresses. They can also remove known abusive email addresses that often mark emails as spam.

5. Communicate with your customers well

Before hitting that Send button, do a thorough check.

  • Did you get the name right?
  • Have you fixed typos and misspellings?
  • Is there anything in your email that can potentially offend your recipients?

You’ve just got yourself new leads on top of your existing ones. There’s nothing else to do than nurture them – but you have to do it right.

Communicate well with your customers. Remember, good communication lets you better connect with people. Plus, it’s what will win your clients for life.

Conclusion: Your email campaigns are not failures

When you use the right strategies, your email campaigns are highly likely to succeed.

Your email campaign will fail if you don’t avoid these mistakes:

  • Using boring and spammy lines.
  • Having no clear and strong call-to-action.
  • Lack of email segmentation.
  • You send your emails to bad email addresses.
  • Poor customer communication.

To get high open rates, soaring CTR, and see a good ROI, follow these fixes:

  • Use killer subject lines that tease your recipients.
  • Use compelling call-to-action.
  • Use email segmentation to target your audience.
  • Validate your email list.
  • Communicate well with your customers.

If you’re still stuck with poor open rates, low CTRs, and sleazy sales, head over to DigitalME, an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant, and learn more about how we can help.

Ross Jenkins is the founder of DigitalME and is an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant. He is ranked #1 on UpWork for his proficiency in digital marketing. DigitalME offers targeted digital solutions and is perfect for anyone who wants to increase leads, sales, and productivity through automation.