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How to Over Mail—And Have Your Email Subscribers Love You for It

One thing about email frequency: Marketers and customers view it very differently! Marketers tend to have a narcissistic view, thinking, “But of course they want to hear from us again this hour/day/week/month! We have great gizmos and great prices and heck, the world loves us!” Sometimes marketers seem to think they’re emailing their mothers, who are of course glad to hear from their kids any time all the time.

But your subscriber is not your mother, and in their opinion, any time you send more email than they want to get, you are over mailing. The definition of over mailing will therefore differ from person to person. While Bob might be okay with hearing from you twice a week, Barb might only want a monthly email from you. Although your frequency might be the same for both, one thinks you’re over mailing and the other doesn’t.

The danger of over mailing.

Sending too many emails too often can have several negative repercussions. The first is the tuning out of your audience. I’ve done this, and I’m sure you have too, right? I sign up for emails from a brand, and all of a sudden, I’m getting too many emails from them so I just ignore them, deleting them during my daily email triage. I wanted to hear from them, but not that often, so I ignore the emails.

The second negative repercussion builds on the first: a lower email deliverability rate. When subscribers fail to engage with your emails by opening them, ISPs see that lack of engagement as a sign that you’re not wanted in the inbox and they judge you accordingly, possibly labeling you as spam.

A third repercussion is the unsubscribe. Although there can be many reasons for an unsubscribe, it’s often the reaction to a perceived inbox deluge. And although an unsubscribe isn’t always a bad thing, if it’s the result of you over mailing, it’s a bad thing.

And if they don’t unsubscribe, you suffer and even worse consequence: the spam flag. Most consumers will flag an email as spam rather than take the time to unsubscribe from it because it’s faster to do so. Just “click” and the email is spam. That hurts your email deliverability even more than the tuning out does!

Wait! There is a way to send more email!

But, despite all of the inherent dangers in over mailing, you can send more mail without bothering anyone! In fact, you can over mail and have people love to see you in their inbox! There are two ways to do this: through content (yours) and through control (theirs).

1. Content

By far the best way to send email people want to get is to deliver awesome content. Not good content, but awesome content. And as with frequency, “awesome” is in the eyes of the beholder. You don’t get to decide what they want to get. They do. So try some different approaches, do some testing, and think outside the box.

What people don’t want to get is “buy, buy, buy” email content (unless it’s discounted; see below). Find what people do want to get (even love to get), and give them that.

Content people love to get can include:

  • Deals and promotions—Everyone loves a deal. The only challenge here is you have to wonder if you’ll ever get anyone to pay full price again if all you ever send is email content offering special prices. This might be a really popular type of content, but be wary of doing it every, single time. Plus it might lose its effectiveness. Special stops being special when it becomes commonplace.
  • Entertainment—Email can be boring for a lot of people. I don’t know about you, but I deal with hundreds of work emails every single day, very few of which are exciting. They all require my attention as the CEO of ClickMail. But that doesn’t mean I’m entertained by them. To get an email that makes me smile, or educates me, or in some other way brightens my day is a treat. And it can still be a promotional email! Or your email newsletter! The entertainment is in the approach you take.
  • Industry-related news—No matter what field one works in, one has to keep up with the changing tides. Deliver news that’s hyper relevant will get you some inbox love. This applies to personal lives too. Think about the mother of a newborn or someone with an interest in Italian sports cars: They’ll eat up email that’s relevant to what’s dear to their hearts.
  • A digest of other content—You don’t have to create every piece of content from scratch. Sometimes your awesome content comes from curating articles or content from elsewhere and offering it in a digest format to your subscribers. You didn’t create the content, but you provided a valuable service by finding it and serving it up in one place for them.

With awesome content they can count on, subscribers might not open every email you send because of factors beyond your control, like maybe a looming deadline at work or a sick kid at home or a visiting relative. But knowing they like your content, they will likely save it for another time, or delete one they don’t have time for with every intention of reading the next one for sure.

2. Control

Giving up some control is another way to get people to love hearing from you. If they know they can switch from a daily digest to a weekly one, some will keep getting the daily digest simply because they know they can switch at any time using your preference center. I’m not going to spend much time on this one because content is where you need to invest your time and energy. But know that offering a preference center and a way to control the frequency on their own can go a long ways toward avoiding the feeling that you’re over doing it in the email department.

So go ahead: Send more mail! But first, make sure it’s awesome and noteworthy and strives to offer something of real value to the subscriber, whether that’s a deal or an anecdote or some breaking news.

And if that’s too much for you and you want to send more email without creating great content first, maybe just stick to emailing your mom.

Marco Marini
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