Most of the small businesses know that they need to build their email list in order to get better results. But for a lot of them (and probably you’re in this group) it’s just not working. Over the years we’ve identified the 3 main reasons why email is not working for you at the moment. And your email marketing strategy is only one of them!

The good news is that you can fix each one of them. The bad – I can’t promise you a fast and easy solution to all of them.

Let’s go through each one and discuss the suggested actions you should take to optimize it:

1. You don’t get enough traffic

The most common issue for new businesses is getting traffic to their website. It can be hard if you don’t have a good network or if you don’t have the money to invest in paid traffic. 

Does your website feel like this?

Traffic is a big issue because your content doesn’t get in front of people. If only a limited number of potential customers see it, you won’t get enough conversions. Even if your website is fully optimized and has great Calls to Action – it’s still a numbers game. It’s like opening a new coffee shop – if no one knows you’re there, they won’t enter and purchase. You need to get yourself out there.

When you’re testing a strategy, or a landing page, you need to get a good amount of people to see it before making the decision if it’s working or not. Unfortunately, you would need more than a 100 or 500 people per month seeing your content. The first thing you need to do in this case is work on getting in front of a bigger audience and sending more visitors to your website. 

Strategies to get more traffic for free:

  • Guest posting – Writing value-based articles for bigger and more popular websites could help tremendously. Make sure you select websites that are already attracting your perfect audience. To put things in perspective – don’t pitch an article to a Health focused website if your business is selling Online Marketing Tools. It might take a while to get some responses and have an article published, but keep trying. 
  • Interviews/Podcasts – Another great way to get in front of your audience and get links back to your website is to be a guest on a podcast or be interviewed on a topic that’s relevant to your business. Make a list of 10 podcasts that your customers are listening to – and pitch them. It might be easier to start on smaller podcasts and make your way up. That way you’ll have a portfolio of great features to show the host.
  • Help a Reporter Out – I love the concept and it has been proven as a valuable way to get links and exposure. You sign up as a Source and each day you receive 3 emails with the relevant requests from journalists. If you know you can contribute on a topic, contact the journalist with your answer, a short bio and a link to your headshot. Repeat daily but make sure you’re following the instructions. Don’t just spam journalists with your own ideas – help them write their article by providing insights and they’ll remember.
  • Get valuable links back to your site – The backlink strategy is one that takes time and effort but it’s great for SEO and traffic. There is a very detailed post from Neil Patel I recommend. Also check this article by Brian Dean on 17 backlink sources that are underused and can provide a lot of valuable traffic.

2. You’re attracting the wrong audience

You have enough traffic but you’re not able to convert those visitors to leads or your leads to customers? That means you’re not attracting the right audience.

Are you?

  • Your content strategy is not aligned with your marketing strategy – Do you have a content strategy in place? How did you create it – with the end goal in mind (selling your products and services) or just by having random ideas that you write about? I guess you are creating random content that doesn’t match your product offerings. You need to have a clear content strategy that is seamlessly converting readers to customers. Focus on what issues your product is solving for your customers and start with that in mind.
  • You have no idea what your Ideal Customer wants to read – Do you know who your ideal customer is and what they’re struggling with? If the answer is YES – then make sure you’re posting content that helps them. If NO – make sure you build a complete marketing persona and you know what they’re trying to optimize or fix in their daily lives and WHY.
  • You don’t have a good freebie offer – Maybe you are attracting the right people but you don’t have the right incentive in place for them to sign up. Look deeper into the issues your current customers were having that led them to the purchase. Use that data to create a short and sweet freebie – something that they can read in under 5 minutes and that will change at least 1 thing in their life for the better. It has to be fast to consume and to deliver the feeling of accomplishment. Don’t overwhelm them with a 7-week email course.
  • You don’t have good CTAs or forms inline with the articles – One final thing you need to check on your website is your Calls To Action and sign up forms. Do they speak to your customer? Do you just ask them to sign up for your newsletter to get more of the same content? Review the design – does it stand out visually or is it only in the sidebar? How about the copy – is it compelling or bland? You know there is always something to optimize – choose one per week and work on it.

3. You don’t have an email marketing strategy in place or your current strategy is not working

You get great traffic and your content strategy is attracting the right audience. But you’re still not seeing results from your email marketing campaigns? I bet you it’s your email strategy that needs a review and update. Here are 3 issues that I often see and work with my clients to fix: 

    • You don’t have a nurture plan in place – What happens when I sign up for your freebie? Do I just get the download email and then the newsletters? You need to take the most of that initial contact and build trust and friendship with your leads. First, welcome them and introduce yourself. We already talked about the perfect welcome email. I suggest adding another 3 emails over the first 7 days. Make sure each of these emails provides a lot of value and free resources. 
    • You don’t know how to turn subscribers into customers – This is another common mistake I see. People don’t have a strategy that connects their emails to seamlessly lead people to a sale. If you just bombard them with your sales offer without any preparation, you won’t see results.

Neither do you

  • You communicate to your list rarely and out of the blue – When was the last time you sent an email to your list? Most businesses that use email marketing successfully have a schedule and they stick to it. When your subscriber knows you send them an email on Tuesday, they will start to expect it every week. Some people think it’s fine to email their list once in 2-3 months. And they get a lot of unsubscribes or email complaints. No one likes unsubscribes – understand the reasons behind your contacts leaving you and you’ll be able to fix it.

Make sure you have the right strategy so people don’t skip your emails


These are the 3 most common reasons why email marketing is not working for you. Have you identified the main issue for you business yet? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to jump in with some extra tips.