re you constantly pulling your hair out over the hundreds of unread emails in your personal inbox? Probably not. Yet, the myth of the ‘inbox overload’ – the idea that consumers are endlessly worrying about the number of emails awaiting them – continues to impact on email marketing decisions.

Out of a fear of irritating consumers, marketers frequently reduce the number of emails they send out. And what’s more, they attempt to target only a small segment of their subscribers with each message.

More often, more impact

Unfortunately, this strategy completely misses out on a key reason why email is such a successful marketing channel. Email is now more than a direct marketing tool. While it remains an effective engagement channel that generates clicks and sales, email is also an increasingly efficient means of building brand recognition.

In the same way that TV and radio adverts aren’t designed to generate an immediate response, email can be used as a broadcast medium. Sending more rather than fewer emails means reminding subscribers about a brand more often, whether they open every message or not. So instead of only sending more emails to those few subscribers that open and click on emails, marketers need to realise that the subject line makes a lasting impression on everyone who receives the message.

The people have spoken

Email’s other key attribute that makes it such an effective marketing channel, and something which often gets forgotten, is the fact that consumers make a conscious decision to receive a brand’s emails. In the moment that a person clicks ‘subscribe’, they express their interest in hearing what a brand has to say. This element of choice that is involved is probably the reason why Merkle found that 74 per cent of consumers prefer to receive commercial messages via email compared to any other channel.

If consumers proactively choose to hear from a brand, it should give them what they want. Rather than spending time and money on targeting specific segments of an email list, brands should assume that their content is relevant to all of its subscribers by default. Simply because a subscriber once bought groceries from Tesco, does not mean that special offers on clothing will not interest them in the future.

In fact, what could Tesco possibly promote from their range that was so irrelevant as to make subscribers actively dislike its emails? Whether or not all subscribers read every email or are in a position to purchase, they still want to hear from their preferred brands. Moreover, the cost of sending to a smaller audience in potential lost sales far outweighs the incremental cost and effort required to send emails to the whole list of fans.

Whether it’s out of love for a brand or purely in the hope of receiving discounts, consumers who subscribe to commercial emails do so of their own free will. A click on the ‘subscribe’ button opens the door to the inboxes of potential customer who are waiting to hear about the latest news and offers.

Sending fewer emails to people that are willing to let brands in risks losing their interest. We can’t benefit from emails we don’t receive and we are naturally fickle creatures. We are likely to forget a brand that has no continued presence in our lives and to spend more with one that does. After all, elephants might never forget, but consumers certainly do.

Dela Quist

Dela Quist


Dela Quist, CEO of Alchemy Worx.