Email Marketing: 3 Ways to Prevent Email Inbox Overwhelm

By Merideth Dushkoff

Imagine you walk into a retail store. You’re welcomed inside by a sales associate who greets you at the door with a friendly, “Can I help you find anything?” You answer, “No thanks. I’m just browsing,” and continue through the store.

But what if the sales clerk ignores you, follows you through the aisles, and keeps repeating, “Can I help you? How can I help you? How about this? Have you heard about our sale? We’re having a huge sale. It ends today. Hurry!”

It would probably ruin your shopping experience, and more than likely, you would rush to leave the store, both annoyed and empty-handed. In real life, this behavior would not be acceptable, but unfortunately, similar tactics are used online in the email marketing space all too often.

It’s no secret that email marketing is a powerful tool. But when used incorrectly, it can have the opposite effect from luring prospects through the “front door” of your business, let alone retaining their attention. In order to truly connect, a brand’s messaging should be personalized and relevant. So, what strategies can you implement to ensure your messages are targeted correctly?

1. Segmentation. Some say the secret sauce to targeting is segmentation — the practice of dividing your email list into groups based on factors such as characteristics and engagement behaviors. Personalized content solves the “How can I help you?” problem. By tailoring relevant messages to the various groups within your email lists, you can target the right messages to the right people. One way to do this is to simply ask them on your initial email sign-up form. Provide a drop-down box of options on your form where readers can choose their interests as they pertain to your business. Then, send segment emails based on their responses.

2. Frequency. Once you’ve targeted your content properly, you should consider the frequency of your emails. An influx of emails in too short a timespan could lead to frustration and/or unsubscribing. In fact, the number one reason un-subscriptions occur is due to receiving “too many emails.” (Source: Yet, “under-mailing” could lead to your content getting lost in the shuffle, or worse, forgotten. Perfecting the frequency to achieve the ideal balance for your campaign will, in part, be the result of your subscribers showing you what works for them and what doesn’t through analyzing their unsubscribe and open rates. After you find the sweet spot for your readers, send messages steadily, and respect their inbox space by scaling back whenever possible.

3. Cadence. By the same token, the cadence of your messages is just as crucial to perfect. The cadence considers how the emails are rhythmically spaced and the time of day they are sent. However, it’s important to recognize that email cadence is not “one size fits all.” It all lies in testing your subscriber list to see what sticks. Are they more likely to engage with email during their lunch break? Is there a timing component to their engagement? Once you’ve established a cadence that will resonate with your readers, the best practice is to stay consistent, which will help your readers develop an expectation for how often they’ll receive messages from you.

These three elements are important steps to consider when creating your email marketing strategy. Whether you work as a retail salesperson or an email marketer, trust is built on consistency. Respecting the wishes of your subscribers, valuing their time, and showing them your consideration through the process will lead to better receptiveness to your content and, ultimately, their trust in your brand.

About the Author

Merideth Dushkoff is a Marketing Automation Specialist at ChoiceLocal. She is a lover of makeup, guacamole (she’s fine with it being extra), West Virginia University sports, and trying new coffee shops.