When is too much email marketing not enough?

Is there such a thing as too much email marketing?

This is a question I get asked a lot – by our clients here at dotMailer, and by marketers I meet in the course of my rounds on the speaking circuit.

My answer is always, “Well… that depends.”

For the record, the best practice answer is this:

  • You should only send email when you have something relevant to say
  • You should rigorously test the sensitivity to receiving email of your audience
  • You should closely monitor your unsubscribe and complaint rates to see if this sensitivity changes

Are we even asking the right question though?

My problem with this ‘how much is too much’ question is that it comes from a negative point of view. It seems to me to be based on a negative base assumption: namely that those who actively opt in to receive emails don’t really want to receive them!

For me, the key question here should in fact be: did your recipients really understand what they were signing up for when opting in to receive your emails?

Approaching the question in this way changes it from “how much is too much,” to “how much is enough?”

Again the answer is going to be “it depends,” but instead of wondering if each email message you send will be the final straw for a jaded subscriber, you can develop and evaluate new ideas that deliver additional value to your recipients, so they are getting the value they signed up for, and then some.

So, are you sending enough?

The answer is probably not.

Here at dotMailer, in every case where we have worked with clients to deliver additional value to their subscribers, the outcome has been an increase in the volume of emails they send.

At the same time we have also increased their email marketing performance across their key performance metrics.

The truth behind the metrics

One of the factors that instills the ‘too much email’ fear in many email marketers is the focus on percentages in email campaign reporting.

Let me show you what I mean, by way of a simple example:

diagram 1

Looking at this sample data you can clearly see that sending that second email has reduced the open rate by 36%, but is that the whole story?

diagram 2

So even though there was a 36% reduction in the open rate, the second approach increased the number of opens by 225 people (or 22.5%). That’s a significant increase in reach, engagement and potential conversions.

“But wait,” I hear you say. “What about the unsubscribe rate?”

Here’s the deal. Every time you email somebody there is a chance they will unsubscribe. But avoiding emailing them is not the way to minimise your unsubscribe rates.

You’re best placed to do this and to grow your revenue at the same time by making sure you are sending relevant, compelling, value-adding content.

Here are some examples of how sending more emails can help you achieve more net engagement, reach and results.


Your subscribers are busy people (that’s why you wanted them on your list in the first place) and no matter how carefully you schedule the send to each recipient, they may be busy and miss your email.

If they don’t miss it altogether, they may not have the time to read it and plan to go back to it later but never quite make it. If your email goes unopened for a day or two, you should send it again.

You spent a lot of time crafting an email that will appeal to the recipient: it is almost rude not to send it again if they missed it the first time.

(The Remail feature in dotMailer will do this for you automatically, and let you keep the or change the subject line for the follow-up send).

Remind Me email

Along similar lines, some of your readers will open the email but immediately realise they do not have the time to take you up on your offer at that moment. So give them the opportunity to set a reminder for a more appropriate time in the future.

We naturally do this all the time when a child or colleague interrupts us and we ask for them to wait until we get to a natural pause in what we are doing.

To make this manageable, I would suggest that you offer a lunch or evening reminder and maybe a reminder before the offer expires.

These reminders can then be set by the reader simply by clicking the link.  The recorded click can be used to build a segment to which the schedule reminder is set as a triggered email.

(You can set up all of this in minutes with dotMailer’s email marketing automation suite.)

Schedule your holiday then schedule your campaigns

One of the things I notice quite a bit when talking to marketers generally is that most marketing is done in a way to be convenient to the marketer: offers are channel specific not because it makes business sense but because it is too hard to develop a mechanic that works across both online and offline POS systems; email get sent on Thursday because that is when we get them done; and marketing stops when the marketer goes on holiday.

You should go on holiday, find a warm beach or awesome black diamond run. You should relax, have some laughs with your friends or family. You deserve it; you work really hard.

You shouldn’t ignore your readers however, just because you are away from the office.

Scheduling your email campaigns in advance means instead of fully training somebody to back you up when you’re not there, you can show them how to stop a scheduled campaign and make any small tweaks that might be needed while you are away.

(dotMailer lets you schedule and edit scheduled campaigns. And we provide a fully managed campaign service too)

My conclusion

Email marketers of the world –  it’s time to stand up and be proud!

Your readers have asked you to send them relevant emails which add some sort of value to their lives and you deliver.

It’s time to stop asking “Am I sending too much?” And start asking “Am I sending enough?”

Read more about this topic on the Econsultancy blog, here.

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