5 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren't Getting Read

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, down my infinite list of emails. I’m pretty sure I’ve clicked on what’s important, and have deleted the ones that were probably not.

This common routine of over subscribing and not having enough time to read the emails that land in your mailbox happens everyday. Can you imagine if you’re someone like Neil Patel who gets 207 emails a day, 1450 per week!


Email blog post - neil neilpatel.com


What many are struggling with in the world of personalized AND automated emailing systems is that it’s hard to get people to click and actually read what’s in their mailbox. Many simply don’t have enough time, don’t care about what’s being sent to them, think it’s spam, or can miss it completely because it’s being pushed down the list as more emails throughout the day.

Deciding which email to read is highly reliant on who it’s coming from, whether you’re receiving mail from your boss, a friend, another marketer, or a professional contact.

The main struggle then lies in the following 5 reasons as to why people aren’t reading your emails, including how to fix them!

1. Your Subject Lines Are Missing The Mark

A great exercise to figure out the formula for a great subject line is to look at your own inbox. Which emails do you often find yourself clicking on?

  • I’ve been prone to clicking emails that:
  • Update me on the latest industry news and trends
  • Show me upcoming local events that I’m interested in
  • Summarizes the conversations that have been happening on Twitter
    Let’s me know about discounts and deals

The most important aspect to a successful subject line would be seeing that there is some sort of “human touch and a bit of verbal flare”. I want to be talked to, not sold to.

If an email was about places I should be eating at, which of the following options do you think is a more effective subject line?

  • Here’s What People Are Eating in Your Neighbourhood
  • The Top 10 NYC Restaurants You Need to Eat At Before You Die

If you chose B so did I. There is a sense of urgency and personalization. The urgency is in the line “Before You Die” and “Need”. There is a sense of personalization using “You” twice.
Option A made me feel like they’re grouping me in with everyone else instead of saying, “Hey we noticed you looking at these restaurants, may we give you more recommendations?”

Whether you’re sending out personal emails or using emailing software, always think about the recipient. Ensure that your subject lines hit these 3 marks:

  1. The tone of the subject line reflects who you’re talking to as well as your brand.
  2. The subject of the email is relevant to the recipient.
  3. It gets to the point. Their time is precious so don’t waste it.

2. Your Headers Are Hiding

Congratulations! Your email was clicked on and now the recipient is scanning it to see if the information is worth the read.

For the majority of us who are skimmers, headers are the deciding factor for when we choose to stay, delete, or leave an email. With tools like the Atomic Reach Writer, Portent, CoSchedule, and Hubspot you are able to craft headlines that should capture a skimmers attention.

Having different H tags within your email visually breaks up the content and gives priority to what you want your reader to pay attention to.

Here’s an example of an email we recently sent out:

email Hubspot
As you can see we have one main header, and because our feature images already have a title, the need to include subheaders are no longer necessary. It would be too busy.

Having headers makes your content scannable, and encourages the reader to pause to find out more.

What do you notice about this example?

post planner report

Although there were icons on the side of this report, this wasn’t enough information upon first impression. The green text is nice, but what metrics was this data for? When you don’t immediately identify the key topics within your email, people lose interest fast.

3. Your Lack of Different Media Types

Your task is to get people reading your email and for many this means incorporating more than just blocks of text within your emails.

In our own trial drip campaign emails, I’ve placed at least 1 gif or image to boost engagement. I end most emails with a call-to-action, either a button or open up lines of communication if they need help with anything.

You can enrich your emails for more engagement.

If you’ve already tried the gif and have added similar call-to-actions within your email, why not give them a freebie? You can link to bonus content within the body of your email or even in your signature. Some examples of great freebies include linking to…

  • A blog post
  • Industry Reports
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Slideshare documents
  • Videos

Whether you’re sharing a fun photo of the team, or embedding a video in your email, your readers will enjoy seeing more than just bodies of text. Make every email an experience that you and your readers will care about.

4. Your Emails Are Not Mobile-Friendly

One of my biggest pet peeves is trying to read an email that is not optimized for mobile. Text and photos are tiny and multimedia sometimes doesn’t work.

Not mobile-friendly Email on Chrome Browser


It’s imperative that your emails are mobile ready. Currently 15% - 70% of emails are being opened on people’s phones, varying from target audience, product, and email type.

More people are reading their emails on their phones because it’s more convenient than opening a laptop. The need to be an open channel to constant information has become necessary to stay at the top of your career, your industry, and current events. People like to stay in the loop at all times.

We’re reading our emails on the train, at the gym, while waiting for a friend to show up for a dinner date, during our lunch break while waiting in line, and the list goes on.

To ensure that your email is mobile-friendly here’s the skinny:

  • Include big images, buttons, and text. This makes it easy to read and interact with your content.
  • Make it a single columned and skinny email.
  • Use a template that has a responsive design - this means that it can detect your screen’s size; remove text that is too small, and will only show you media that is supported.

If you need help with picking the right email marketing software, the folks at Software Advice (past guest on our Twitter Chat #AtomicChat) can help. Here’s a recap with all of their tips and the conversations from the chat!

5. Your Emailing Reputation Isn’t the Greatest

What does it mean to have a reputation? It means that you are distinctly remembered for something that you did or do.

When people read your emails, that means that they trust you and are looking forward to your emails. Sending your emails at random times and days of the week, breaks that chain of brand consistency.


In an episode of The Startup Chat Podcast with Steli Efti of close.io and Hiten Shah of Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics, Steli shares his reasoning for why responding to emails asap is important.

It shows respect to the sender and helps give them confidence. Time’s a ticking, the longer you wait to answer an email the more insecure they become, and their trust in you dwindles.

By sending your emails at the same date and time consistency, you are fulfilling an expectation of your customer. If you send out a weekly newsletter, people are expecting for their mailboxes to ping at that time. Don’t let them down.

Track the times and days you send your emails and see which time gets the most open rates and click-throughs.

Be clear in your messaging and don’t waste people's time. It is really easy to flag a brand’s emails as junk and even easier for Google since they have social and promotional filters. If you don’t make the move to encourage people to add you to their email list, your emails might be getting lost in their junk folder. This is why you see emails that ask you to confirm your email address AND to add that contact to your personal list.

Emailing With Renewed Purpose

Finding out why people don’t read your emails will take some trial and error to understand what it’s going to take for people to latch on. Remember these key tips when you send out your next email:

  1. Craft subject lines with your recipients in mind, speak their language
  2. Include headers throughout your content to highlight topics
  3. Add media like gifs, photos, and video to enrich the email experience
  4. Make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly
  5. Send and respond to emails consistently

Great content primarily relies on the person that is writing it, but to get an even deeper understanding of how to craft your emails for engagement, an Atomic Audit analyzes all forms of digital text-based content. This helps you to understand the impact of the language you choose in your emails so that you can deliver consistent messaging for higher response rates and click-throughs. Find out more here.

Have you found other ways that have boosted your email response rate, let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this article with someone looking for email advice!

AR Blog CTAv3

Feature Image icons made by Dave Gandy and madebyoliver, from www.flaticon.com 

Tags: Sales & Marketing, digital marketing, email, email campaign, email marketing, email software, mobile marketing, newsletter, online marketing, podcast, podcaster, podcasting