When something goes wrong with your email marketing efforts, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

Maybe deliverability or engagement plummets, maybe sales stall, or maybe you get a particularly critical piece of feedback from a subscriber. 

Your mind spins. 

We’re marketers. But we’re also human. 

And when the overwhelm sets in, you might also get the irresistible feeling that something needs to be fixed or changed. 

Here’s the problem with that. 

The Problem With Short-Term Thinking

I’ve been in email marketing for 2 decades now. 

Over that time I’ve worked with a lot of different types of clients — SaaS startups, established online stores, Inc. 500 companies, and big corporations. 

And there’s one thing that all of those clients are susceptible to. 

Destroying their email marketing momentum by making changes too quickly and too often, which is usually triggered by some metric going awry. 

Something goes wrong, they make panic-fueled decisions, those poor decisions make the problem worse, and more often than not, they don’t even recognize the sickening cycle they’ve created. 

They’re stuck in a hellish loop of their own making. 

I’ll never forget when, a few years ago, I pitched a large corporation on a methodical and unexciting (but effective) solution to their email deliverability problems. But they decided to go with a “sexier” solution that was confusing and convoluted. 

After a year, they reached back out to me and begged me to help. But the situation had worsened. And that made the recovery take twice as long as it could have taken.

That’s why short-term thinking is such a problem in email marketing — because email marketing isn’t a short-term game

A strong sender reputation isn’t built (or repaired) overnight, and neither is your relationship with your subscribers. 

A while back, I spoke to David Perrell about his email program and he told me that he had a 50% average open rate for his newsletter of 45,000 subscribers. But you know what his subject lines are? Every single one is as simple as “Monday Musings” and “Friday Finds”. 

People don’t open because he’s doing something magical or because he’s discovered some marketing hack that you’ve yet to stumble upon. 

His readers open because they trust him and they like his content — because he’s built a relationship with them for many years

In my experience, the slow-and-steady methodical approach to email marketing is far more effective and rewarding than any quick-hitting marketing hack. 

The Methodical Approach

When something goes wrong with your email marketing efforts — and things will go wrong at some point — that doesn’t automatically mean that something needs to be changed. 

It doesn’t even mean that you’re doing something wrong. 

Sometimes, you do everything right and things still go sideways. 

You create compelling content, write a great subject line, and the email hits the spam folder — I’ve seen it happen more than once. 

While the algorithm usually favors high-quality emails (and audience engagement), there are hiccups. 

And unless you’re doing some blatantly shady stuff, those hiccups — so long as they’re not the norm — are probably nothing to worry about. 

But what if they are the norm? What if something is wrong and you do need to change your approach? 

Fine. But don’t make a knee-jerk decision. 

Look into the possible reasons for the dip in performance: is it caused by a new signups source, is it poor targeting, are you emailing too many dormant subscribers, is it specific to an ISP or domain, etc.

Ask for a second opinion from someone you trust on your team — ideally, someone with a different temperament than yourself, make a list of possible solutions, hire an expert if you need to… and then make an informed decision about what you’re going to do. 

Set historical benchmarks, test the solution, monitor results for the next three months, and look at averages (performance over time), not individual campaigns, to see if metrics have improved. 

That’s the process. 

It’s long-term, it requires a lot of patience, and for those with enough fortitude, it pays massive dividends. 

Final Thoughts

It’s counterintuitive to the “hustle culture” that we marketers and entrepreneurs find ourselves in, but sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do. 

Especially when you’re already doing everything right and the source of the overwhelm is small valleys along an upward trajectory. 

Every growth path has hills and valleys. 

Your job as an email marketer or entrepreneur is to do your best, focus on the long-term, and to resist knee jerk decisions. 

That’s the process.