This is Why Your Subscribers Aren’t Reading Your Emails

This is why your subscribers aren't reading your emails

“Why are my subscribers not reading my emails!?”

That’s a cry of frustration, right? There are few things in this field as frustrating as building an email list only to have your emails ignored by your subscribers. You’re sending what you think is great content, but your open rates stink, and your clickthrough rates are even lower.

What gives!?

If your emails aren’t read, what’s the point in sending them? You might as well be talking to a brick wall.

How effective is talking to a brick wall? Not very.

It’s maddening to spend time writing emails only to find no one seems to care. Let’s explore a few reasons why you might find yourself in this situation – and what to do about it.

You’re emailing too often

It’s important to keep up with your subscribers. Yes, you should be emailing frequently. How frequently depends on your niche and specific list – among other factors. But there is a point at which it becomes ridiculous.

I’ve seen list owners take this to an extreme. They think it’s perfectly acceptable to email every day – or even more frequently. And indeed it can be in very limited circumstances.

For example, a couple of my free bootcamps are email courses that consist of one email per day for a set number of days. But after that time period, the frequency tapers off sharply. It would be rather annoying if I kept knocking on your door day after day after day ad infinitum wouldn’t it? Sooner or later you’d get tired of me. And rightly so.

At this point, one of two things is going to happen. You will either unsubscribe or you’ll simply stop bothering to read what I have to say. You’ll throw my emails into a folder, never to open them.

You aren’t providing value

If you’re not providing valuable information to your subscribers, why should they read anything you have to say?

Your goal as an email marketer – and really as any kind of business person – ought to be to provide real value. Value is the fuel that runs the engine of business.

As I’ve said over and over, ask yourself what question you can answer or what problem you can solve. Help people by providing content that speaks to their needs.

That’s valuable content.

Your subscribers are bored

I don’t care what your niche is. If your content is boring, your subscribers will get bored.

Remember, your subscribers owe you nothing. If they don’t find your emails interesting, entertaining, helpful or useful, you can forget about them reading what you have to say.

Some subjects are dry. There’s no denying that. But you shouldn’t be. Be yourself and work to convey your message in a way that’s engaging. Personally, I like injecting little nuggets of humor into my emails. No, I’m no stand up comic, but if I can make my reader chuckle or at least smile, I’ve done my job. There’s no reason all this dry marketing talk has to be boring.

Your messages are getting caught by junk filters

Junk filters are great – usually. They help rid our inboxes of senseless ads. That’s good – until they think you’re the sender of one such senseless ad.


If your emails are caught by filters, your subscribers may not see them for days, weeks, or even months. That’s if they see them at all.

Not a solid plan.

To avoid getting caught in junk filters, choose your words wisely. Check for known spam words, and replace them with better options. Don’t be overly promotional. As always, make sure you’re providing high quality info.

Many email providers will automatically whitelist a sender if a reader replies. Asking your subscribers to reply with questions or comments is one very simple and very easy way to help ensure your emails hit their targets.

Your subject lines are lame

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – or so the saying goes. But your subscribers? They judge an email by its subject line.

Think about it. You sit staring at a long list of emails. You know some are worth your time, and some aren’t. How do you decide which to open and which to toss?

The subject.

If your subject lines are lame and not eye-catching, your emails are easy to miss. If they’re easy to miss, they won’t be read. If they won’t be read, what’s the point in sending them?

Take time to write subject lines that are accurate but catchy.

Seriously, put some effort into this. I’ve seen marketers send emails with boring subjects, expecting results. Be funny. Be witty. But be descriptive.

Think of your subject line like a news article headline of sorts. You want to be descriptive. Don’t pull a bait-and-switch, describing one thing when your email is about something else entirely. But don’t give it all away in the subject line.

This will take practice and trial and error. Find your voice, and don’t be afraid to be funny, snarky and witty. People appreciate it.

People get busy

Your subscribers have lives. I know. I know. That may be a shock to some. They have other obligations and limited time. Understand that they may not get to your emails every day. That’s normal.

Personally, I get more emails in a day than I can read. Some days I get more. Some days fewer. But, unless I dedicate some time to reading email, I rarely get through it all.

Understand that your subscribers are likely the same. They have things to do and places to be. Unless by some fluke your subscribers are addicted to your content, you’ll be toward the bottom of their to-read list.

Clearly, we can’t make people less busy. You and I don’t have the power to make people take time for our content. Nor should we. We need to respect that our subscribers are real people with real lives.

What we can do, however, is ensure that our emails are interesting and valuable enough to be worthy of time and attention.

What kind of content is worth your time? What would get you to stop, take a moment, and read?

Is that the kind of content you’re writing? If not, why not?

You don’t have a relationship

Business isn’t about what you know. I don’t care how intelligent you are or how much you’ve learned. That’s worthless on its own.

Does that surprise you?

Business is more about who you know than what you know. More precisely, it’s about who knows you.

Think about this for a minute. Are you more likely to buy from someone you know or someone you don’t know? Generally speaking, of course.

Obviously, you would buy from the known quantity first.

Two people are selling houses – both houses being identical as far as you know. One of the two is your loving brother who you trust. The other is a total stranger.

Who is more likely to get your business? Clearly, your brother. Why? Because you know him. You know the kind of person he is, and you trust that he has taken good care of the house. The stranger? You know nothing about him. Is he a slob? Would he try to sell you a house that has problems? You don’t know.

Your subscribers are bombarded with emails every day. What sets you apart from any other marketer? Why should someone care what you have to say?

Hopefully, because you have a real relationship. You’ve demonstrated that you are committed to helping your subscribers succeed. You’ve shown that you will only promote products or recommend resources that are truly helpful. Your subscribers know that they can come to you if they need help. That’s exactly what we want.

But understand this: If you’re not connecting with them, your subscribers won’t care about anything you have to say. You can forget about your emails being read.

One of your most important tasks as an email marketer is to establish real relationships with those on your list. Establish yourself as a known, trustworthy source of information, tools and resources. If you can do that, you will find making sales and building an engaged subscriber base much easier.

Learn what your subscribers want

Here’s the thing. Nothing you or I do will force our subscribers to open and read our emails. We can only do so much. But if we can understand what our readers what, we will stand a better chance.

No one wants to be overloaded with email. Keep your email frequency sane.

No one wants to read email that’s a waste of time. Provide valuable content that actually helps someone.

No one wants to read messages from people they don’t like. Build a relationship.

But finally, understand that much of this is an art and not a science. I can give you tips and tricks, but you know your subscribers better than any other marketer. You know why they subscribed and what they want. It’s up to you to give them the kind of quality content they crave. That’s going to take trial and error on your part. You will have to learn an adapt, tweaking your campaigns and adjusting your strategies. But if you can keep up, you’ll find the ride was worth it.