Email marketing is an effective way for publishers to engage with their audience, but it certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. Many publishers struggle with various email marketing pain points, from high unsubscribe rates and low open rates to poor email design.

In this guide, we explore some of the most common email marketing pain points and provide practical tips and solutions for overcoming them. We’ve compiled a list of seven common email marketing pain points, together with their fixes. Let’s jump in.

Publishers’ top email marketing pain points – with fixes

1. Acquiring new subscribers and keeping them engaged 

First up is getting new subscribers and keeping hold of them. The most effective way to obtain new subscribers is to build your list organically. 

This means taking the time to add the most relevant people to your email list. The best subscribers are the ones that are interested in your business or industry (preferably both).

To build your email list, remember these three factors:

  • Relevance – Your email subscribers should want to know more about or learn from your business.
  • Quality – Seek real people that actively check their emails.
  • Volume – Once you’ve nailed the first two, begin increasing your email list based on the first two principles. 

So, where can you acquire engaged subscribers that care about your business?

Dedicated newsletter sign-up page

A newsletter landing page is a crucial element of your email marketing strategy. 

Intended as a prompt for your website visitors to sign up to receive your newsletter, it’s designed to optimise conversions and increase your email subscribers. Include a clear and compelling headline with action-oriented language. This will help to clearly communicate the value of subscribing to your newsletter.

Side note: It’s important that you send newsletters at the right time. Doing so will attract more engagement, open rates, and click-through rates. Discover the best time to send newsletters here. 

Social media posts 

Including a sign-up link on your social posts is great for tracking down brand advocates. It can also help to increase your email subscriber count. Social media platforms are ideal for connecting with users who are already following your brand and engaging with your content.

By leveraging the existing engagement of your social media followers, direct them to your email sign-up page with a simple link.

Exit-intent pop-ups

These types of pop-ups act as incentives for users to stay on your site. Triggered by users’ mouse movements toward the top of the page, pop-ups can distract them from leaving your site.

You could even further encourage them with an enticing offer (like a discount code) as a thank you for signing up to your email list. 

Website CTAs

Add a sign-up form to each of your landing pages and to the bottom of every blog post. 

You might need a hook to get them over the line. Consider phrases like, “Sign up for our mailing list to receive early access to our event”. 

According to HubSpot, the most prominent places for sign-up forms are:

  • At the top of the page
  • Within the text of the page
  • In the sidebar
  • At the bottom of the page
  • As a pop-up

Gated content

Email sign up call to action featured in a blog post

If you’ve got premium content on your website, this is an ideal time to gather valuable email addresses. 

Capture leads’ email addresses and build relationships using resources like:

  • Guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Online courses
  • Exclusive access to valuable content

Be sure to let users know what to expect in return for their contact information, and highlight the benefits of accessing the gated content. This can include information on how the content will solve their problem, provide insights, or improve their knowledge.

Lead magnets

A lead magnet is a valuable and relevant piece of content or resource that you offer to your audience, often in exchange for their email address.

Understanding your target audience is crucial to creating an effective lead magnet. To create a lead magnet that provides a solution, you’ll need to consider their pain points and interests.

2. High unsubscribe rates 

High unsubscribe rates are another common email marketing pain point. If you’ve got a high unsubscribe rate, you might assume your subscribers aren’t interested – but that’s not necessarily the case.

To identify the reasons behind a high unsubscribe rate, review your email content to ensure it’s valuable, engaging, and relevant to your subscribers. Then, analyse your email metrics to look for patterns that could be contributing to high unsubscribe rates. 

For example, a decrease in open or click-through rates could indicate that your emails are not resonating with your subscribers. Or you might find you’re simply sending too many emails and might want to reduce your quantity.

How to fix it: Here are a few simple ways to fix this pain point.

Segmenting your email list

This is a powerful strategy that allows you to send targeted and relevant emails to specific audience segments. 

Here are a few segmentation ideas to get you started:

  • Demographic
  • Interests
  • Engagement levels
  • Age

Sending more targeted and personalised emails reduces the likelihood of users unsubscribing.

Reviewing your opt-in process 

Ensure you’re setting clear expectations from the very start. 

Your sign-up forms must clearly state what you’re offering, the type of content to expect, roughly how often you’ll send it, and above all – the value they’ll get by signing up. 

Testing and optimising 

A/B test different elements of your email campaigns. 

There’s plenty to test – subject lines, CTAs, sending times, and content are all effective. Testing helps you identify what relates best with your subscribers. 

3. Low open rates and click-through rates 

Low open rates and click-through rates can be significant pain points for newsletter publishers, often indicating that subscribers aren’t engaging with your content.

This could be due to irrelevant content, poor timing, or simply an overcrowded inbox.

How to fix it: The first thing to focus on is optimising your email subject lines. This is your chance to make a great first impression, so make it compelling.

Subject line optimisation 

According to MailerLite, the average email open rate across all industries is 37.5%. This obviously can vary depending on your industry, but it can act as a great benchmark. 

Play around with elements like emojis to inject some personality into your email marketing. For instance, email subject line emojis can get your message across in a more eye-catching way than just text. Just be careful not to overdo them and be mindful of your audience!

Image Source: MailerLite

We also recommend:

  • Keeping the subject line short. Could your subject lines be cutting off in their inbox? Keep your subject lines at 5-6 words maximum.
  • Adding custom preheaders. Preheaders offer a chance to expand on your subject line and provide a teaser of what’s inside your newsletter. Aim to pique their curiosity and encourage them to open the email to learn more.
  • Using numbered email subject lines. MailerLite suggests that subject lines containing numbers often generate the highest open rates.
  • Experimenting with personalisation. Addressing recipients by their name in the email subject line offers a sense of familiarity and connection. This increases the likelihood of the email being opened and read.

Clear CTAs 

It’s important to have a clear and prominent CTA that stands out in your emails, helping you direct your subscribers towards an action –  whether it’s making a purchase, signing up or downloading content.

Experimenting with “From” names

Instead of using a generic name, consider using a personal name in the “From” field – such as Your First Name @ Publishing Company. This adds a human touch and helps create a sense of familiarity and trust with your recipients.

Optimising for mobile

With at least 50% of subscribers opening emails on a mobile device, it’s clear that using a mobile-responsive design for your emails is vital. If your emails aren’t properly optimised for these devices, they may take too long to load or be unreadable.

4. Spam complaints

Spam complaints have long been a pain point for email marketers. Going straight to spam can be disheartening considering the time and effort you’ve put into your email campaigns.

Being marked as spam in email marketing can also impact your email deliverability, sender reputation, and overall email marketing performance. 

How to fix it: To mitigate the impact of your emails being marked as spam, follow these best practices:

Obtaining proper consent

Using robust opt-in methods, such as double opt-in, ensures recipients explicitly confirm their consent to receive emails from you. Sending emails to recipients who have not explicitly opted-in can increase the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.

Adding a clear unsubscribe footer link

This makes it easy for recipients to unsubscribe if they no longer wish to receive emails from you – and helps prevent recipients from marking your emails as spam – as they have a clear option to opt-out.

Managing your email list 

Regularly cleaning and managing your email list ensures you’re only sending emails to active and engaged recipients. Take care to remove invalid or inactive email addresses, and promptly action unsubscribe requests if done manually.

5. Poor email design 

Unattractive layouts, images, and colours can fail to catch your recipients’ attention – leading to emails being ignored. Branding inconsistencies can create confusion, so be mindful of this, too. 

How to fix it: When you’re creating your email designs, it’s important to ensure they’re both accessible and mobile responsive. Mobile responsive emails adapt to the screen size and orientation of the device. They also provide an optimal viewing experience regardless of the device.

Other fixes for poor email design include:


Accessibility refers to designing emails in a way that makes them inclusive and usable for individuals with disabilities. This includes visual, mobility, hearing impairments, and cognitive disabilities.

Accessible email design ensures that all recipients, regardless of their abilities, can access and understand the content of the email. You can achieve this through various techniques including:-

  • Providing alternative text for images
  • Using readable fonts and colours
  • Providing clear and descriptive links
  • Structuring the email content with proper heading tags. 

Find an easy fix by building your templates with Newsletter Glue.

Creating clear content

Emails that are cluttered with excessive content, lack a clear hierarchy or have complex navigation can overwhelm your recipients. This makes it difficult for them to understand the intended message. 

Always aim to create clear and concise content with obvious value for your subscribers. 

6. Technical issues 

Technical issues such as email clipping and poor HTML code can significantly impact the effectiveness of your email newsletter in several ways. 

Firstly, if your email exceeds the maximum size limit, viewers are not able to view the entire email content – so might not bother to read the whole thing. 

Secondly, coding issues in an email can result in rendering problems – where the email may not display correctly or consistently across different email clients or devices. The result of this can be distorted layouts, broken images, or other visual inconsistencies – making the email difficult to read, understand, or interact with.

How to fix it:

Optimising HTML code

Ensure that the HTML code of your email newsletters is clean, optimised, and follows best coding practices. 

Using inline CSS, proper image optimisation techniques and responsive design ensures that your emails render correctly. Test emails in various email clients and devices to identify and fix any rendering issues.

Monitoring deliverability

Keep track of your email deliverability rates and monitor for any issues related to spam filters or email flagging. 

Follow best practices for email deliverability – such as using authenticated domains, avoiding potential spam content, and maintaining a clean and engaged email list. 

Address any deliverability issues promptly to ensure that your emails reach the recipients’ inboxes.

Utilising resources

Check out the following resources to check for technical problems within your emails:

  • Newsletter Glue email clipping checkerAn email size checker in the email preview warns you if your email might get clipped.
  • SendForensicsIdentify and fix spam filter issues, authentication, and domain reputation.
  • Email HippoUse to validate email addresses, check for delivery, and test your email campaigns for technical issues. 
  • Accessibility Checker Free online tool that checks for improper use of heading tags and other accessibility violations.
  • HTML Email CheckFree online tool that analyses your email newsletter’s HTML code for broken links, missing alt text, invalid CSS, and other coding errors.

7. Complicated platform interface 

Not all email marketing platforms are user-friendly – and some come with a very steep learning curve. It’s important to find a platform that you can use effectively to create email campaigns easily. 

Some common issues you may have encountered with these platforms include:

  • Overwhelming and complex features and settings
  • Limited customisation options – such as rigid templates
  • Complicated and technical aspects – like automation, list management, and segmentation
  • Pricing complexities such as different tiers and add-ons, which can make it difficult to ascertain which features you actually need 

How to fix it: Choose an email marketing platform that works for you and your business. Ideally, it must be responsive with intuitive workflows and include clear documentation and support. Take a look at our ESP guide for publishers to learn more.

User-friendly interface

Utilise a plugin such as Newsletter Glue – offering you a clean and intuitive interface with easy-to-navigate menus, a simple WordPress block editor, and clear icons or buttons for common tasks – such as creating campaigns, managing contacts, and setting up automation. 

Allowing anyone to create newsletters, Newsletter Glue provides clear pricing and the ultimate user-friendly experience. 

Testing and preview features

Testing is key when it comes to email design. A platform that offers built-in testing and preview features allows you to see how your emails will render across different email clients, devices, and web browsers. This can help you identify and fix any rendering or formatting issues before sending out your email campaigns.

Wrapping up: 7 email marketing pain points – fixed 

With the right strategies and tools, publishers can overcome these challenges and build strong relationships with their subscribers.

Are you ready to tackle your email marketing pain points? With the right strategies and tools, publishers can overcome their email challenges and build strong, long-term relationships with their subscribers.

Your key takeaways:

  • Qualifying your leads before adding them to your email list.
  • Creating engaging, relevant, and valuable content for your newsletters and emails.
  • Segmenting your list to tailor email content to specific audiences.
  • Optimising your email list by adding prominent CTAs across your website and social media.
  • A/B testing subject lines to create the most appealing and clickable options.
  • Taking care of technical issues to avoid unopened emails and spam problems.
  • Choose a platform that offers you a simple way to create optimised email campaigns and newsletters.

Next steps

How can Newsletter Glue help?

If you’re a publisher on WordPress looking to upgrade your newsletter operations, you might also consider using us to save publishing time and grow revenue.

Newsletter Glue integrates your newsletter operations more closely into your existing publishing platform. 

With us, you can build and publish your newsletters without leaving WordPress. This eliminates tedious copy-pasting between your site and your ESP. Our customers report saving at least an hour per newsletter on average.

In addition, with all your newsletter issues inside WordPress, you can now seamlessly apply subscription, advertising and growth strategies to your newsletters. In contrast, this isn’t something you can easily do when all your newsletters were hosted on your ESP.

  • Request a demo – Get to know Newsletter Glue with a helping hand from our team.
  • Visit our blog – Our team has created some great resources to help you get the most out of your email marketing.

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