Why Your Email Newsletters Aren't Being Read

According to August Birch, email newsletters are all about getting the readers to want our content. The common complaint about email lists is that readers are unresponsive. But it’s not about the size of the list — it’s how you use it! Readers aren’t disinterested; they’re just overwhelmed with other content in their inboxes. We’ve all become masters at filtering out marketing pitches, and some of our inboxes even give us the tools to help that process.

To get your readers to open your newsletters, you have to speak directly to them. The key to unlocking email engagement is writing a killer subject line. Here are five common mistakes that Birch thinks you can fix immediately when writing subject lines. 

  1. Talking about yourself — Readers care about themselves first. We’re busy people with so many emails and so little time.

  2. Being boring — This is self-explanatory. If your subject line makes someone reach for their coffee to stay awake, ya done messed up.

  3. Giving it away — If you explain exactly what the email is about in the subject line, there’s no reason for me to read it. Readers hit “Delete” because they already know what you’re about to say.

  4. Asking yes-or-no questions — “Want to take your writing to the next level?” If their internal answer is “nope,” then there’s no reason to open your email. Questions can be great, but you’ve got to be really careful with the yes-or-no kind. 

  5. No mystery — Leave a little something to the imagination. Readers want to be led gently towards a sale, not mugged with your blatant subject line.

Subject lines are part art, part magic, part mysticism, and part “let’s try something fun.” The idea behind your email list is to get your newsletter in front of your reader, and to do that, we need to get them to open the dang message.

Here are Birch’s five tips to get your emails opened:

  1. Close the loops — The human brain hates open loops, and we’re hardwired to want to close them. Use unanswered, non-yes-or-no questions to entice a reader to click on that email. Cliffhangers work very well in writing because we want to know what happens next. 

  2. Feed the greed — We care about ourselves above all. If someone sends you an email and it looks like you’ll gain something by opening it, there’s a much higher chance you’re going to open it. Try using subject lines with the word “you” instead of group-speak. Make the reader feel as if you sent this only to them.

  3. Format for mobile — This really should be a no-brainer, but test for mobile by looking at emails on your phone. You want the entire subject line to fit and not be cut off. The reader is not going to spend time trying to figure out what you meant. 

  4. Send emails like you’re a friend — Think about how you email coworkers, family, or friends and employ those tactics. Your readers will stay readers if they feel like your family and friends too. 

  5. Have fun — infuse your own version of fun into your emails. We all have different personalities and levels of fun we generally exude, but if your emails sound fun to open, there’s a better chance readers will click. Nobody wants another newsletter, so don’t make your newsletter seem like a newsletter. Make it feel like a community.

Let’s face it: We all need to send better email. Both you and your readers benefit if they open your content. You put so much effort into the subject matter of your email — now try to spend as much time creating your subject lines. They’re just as important as your email itself, if not more so. Test, send, and retest subject lines until you start getting the results you want. If readers don’t see your email, they’ll never buy your work. Email is the only free piece of marketing you can send where your message isn’t distracted by Snapchat videos and newsfeeds. When your reader opens your email, you’ve got their attention. You can send better email, and we can help!

T. Nugent and Associates can help you produce newsletters that get your writing seen by your readers. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call or text us at 708.334.8414 or email

Cold Emailing

Cold emailing — it seems intimidating, right? Cold emailing has a bad reputation with some due to the generic and poorly worded emails some marketers send, but this marketing tool is actually great when used correctly. The worst thing that can happen is that someone doesn’t respond, right? In that respect, cold emailing is low risk, but it can yield a high reward. Using Larry Kim’s article on the art of cold emailing as a guide, here are some tips to make sure your cold emails get the results you desire. 

The Art of the Cold Email

Cold emails should always focus on what you can offer a potential client. You want to create a connection, and starting your email guns blazing with a hard sell is never the way to go. People are bombarded by sales emails all the time, so you want to stand out from the crowd. Show them how they might personally profit from establishing a connection with you. You also want to emphasize your company’s reputation and your personal background and previous successes. Establish yourself as a confident marketing master!

And be sure to personalize your email to the sender. People are used to being marketed to and can spot a canned email a mile away. You want your pitch to feel personalized to their company’s wants and needs. If you don’t have a potential connection’s email address, a great way to get it is to go to their company website and look at the format of other employees’ email addresses. If you have an employee’s first and last name, it’s pretty easy to figure out the formula for their work email from there. 

Here are some circumstances where cold emailing can be a great approach:

Developing Your Business

Whether you’re seeking a partner or an investor, your contacts are everything. Even if you receive a rejection, these connections can help you later on down the line. Rejection helps you figure out what is working and what isn’t, and you end up fine-tuning your pitch. Investors are rooting for you, and even if they don’t back you at the start, showing that you can grow, take criticism, and change will make a major impact in the long run.


I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes the best person for a job at your company already has a job at a different company. The best way to let that person know you have an opening is by cold emailing. The worst thing the employee can do is say “no thanks,” and if that happens, you can move on to other qualified candidates. Reaching out directly to candidates you’re interested in has proven to have a higher success rate than finding candidates through other methods.


Working the digital room, wheeling and dealing, those of us in marketing know just how important connections can be. If you see someone being a valuable contact at some point, go ahead and make the first move with a personalized cold email. A simple invitation to have lunch, give a talk, or write a guest post on your blog can go a long way toward creating a lasting connection with someone who might help you out further on in your career.

Is Cold Emailing Forever Cool?

That’s tough to say, but the data shows it certainly doesn’t hurt. It isn’t everything, but it’s certainly not something you should ignore. 

If your company would like to explore some options that go beyond cold emailing, contact TN&A for a free, no-obligation consultation at 708.334.8414 or email