An addendum to Email Marketing - Heather Robertson Internet Marketer - Content Strategist

An Addendum to E-Mail Newsletter Etiquette

During the 2012 December holiday season I was surprised by the number of B2B and B2C newsletters that continued to clutter my inbox.

Of course I understood that they were on ‘automatic pilot’ and someone didn’t actually go into the office and hit the send button. Just the same, I was still surprised and after awhile became irritated with the invasion into my personal space.

Agreed not everyone celebrates the extended XMAS holiday but surely taking some time off isn’t such a bad idea. It’s really not necessary to promote all the time. There were several social media sites that went ‘black’ or ‘quiet’ shortly after the tragedy in Newtown.  That action spoke volumes.

Email Newsletter Etiquette - Heather Robertson Internet Marketer - Content Strategist

According to everything I’ve read, e-mail newsletters continue to deliver the highest ROI over any other type of online outbound marketing. However, if we begin our consumer research with ourselves, we see that there is newsletter fatigue, newsletter saturation and in my case newsletter irritation.

There are some ancedotal reports that email marketing is starting to show a decline in effectiveness. I suspect though, it’s not the market per se, but the type of information. Newsletters that generate solely a call-to-action to sell a product/service will gradually experience lower open rates than the newsletter that regularly imparts useful information with a softer sell.

Perhaps it’s time to review our newsletter etiquette.

There are lots of great posts on the topic. Email Newsletter Dos and Don’ts  by M.J. Rose in was quite good.

With respect to M.J. Jones, I want to add three more rules…

Be considerate of your customer’s feelings and use yourself as a barometer. I figure that I’m not just a marketer, I’m a consumer. If it would irritate me, it’s bound to irritate one of my customers. Take the time to envision yourself as ‘the customer’ when considering anything do with your email newsletter including frequency, timing, topics, relevance or even length.

Opt-Out consideration – It’s my opinion, that having an unsubscribe button is more important than a subscribe button and I’m well aware of the privacy laws. However, if I’ve done business with someone who now has my email address and they send me their newsletter whether I asked for it or not, I’m grateful that they thought of me. After all, we did do some business together. But when the newsletter is no longer useful then I want to unsubscribe and if the functionality isn’t there, then I’m mad.

Timeliness –Email Marketing literature recommends sending your newsletters out with a schedule to help set expectations and boost readership. If I get the same newsletter at different times of the day in the same week, then I become confused that I’m receiving it twice. And when I’m confused, I’m irritated. If your newsletter is regular, customers can help identify glitches. I did that for one of my favourite B2B newsletters who might not have found the problem otherwise. I’m not convinced regularity breeds contempt or disregard – in my case it’s comfort.

I subscribe to lots of newsletters. I opt-in and opt-out of newsletters all the time. I do have a threshold so I don’t become saturated and pass an entire day reading newsletters. I also like to test the waters and stretch out of my comfort zone and hear from different people.

If someone unsubscribes to your newsletter – it’s not personal. They may have a 100 great reasons for unsubscribing and they may be back. Don’t play the numbers game – send out your newsletter to thousands of people hoping that three people read it.

Aim for quality over quantity. Don’t blast – Engage. And above all – Be Nice. After all, you are a consumer too!



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