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It’s always nice when an independent third-party study substantiates what we’ve been saying all along. In this case, a study by Harris Interactive on behalf of Merkle (the database marketing people) has found that between 73 to 75% of people hit “unsubscribe” because either they feel that they are getting email from you too often, or that it is not relevant, or both.

If you think about this, it only makes sense. The easiest ways to tick off the people on your mailing lists – the very people with whom you want to foster goodwill – is to either send them stuff that they didn’t actually sign up for or expect (relevancy) or to flood their inbox (frequency).

Another way to look at relevancy is “targeting”. And the only way to look at frequency is from your users’ perspective, not your own.

Example: you may think that if you send me an email three times a week, that’s not very often. After all, that’s fewer than half the days in a week, and you have lots of information to convey to me.

But from my perspective, if you are sending me marketing messages three times a week, that’s one-to-three times a week too often.

As I said in our post on the top 5 mistakes that email senders make in scheduling their mailings, “If you send email to your mailing lists too frequently, you can cause a number of unintended effects, all of which will affect your deliverability. First, you can tick them off, and they will hit the “this is spam” button. That’s really bad. Second, you can cause them to tune out and just ignore the email – this will affect your open rate which yes, make no mistake, will affect your deliverability rate. Think about it this way: if you were an ISP and a sender’s email never got opened, by any of your users, wouldn’t you start sending it to the spam folder?”

Relevancy is similar – and so here’s a simple test: If you have to think of a way to make what you are about to send to your list be relevant or topical to the list, then it isn’t. Don’t send it.

Think about this – here it is in black and white – straight information that tells you, if you listen, how to reduce the percentage of unsubscribes from your list: make sure that what you send is relevant, and even then, don’t send it too often.

(Of course, conversely, it’s possible to send too infrequently too. We also talk about that in The Top 5 Mistakes Email Senders Make in Scheduling Their Mailings


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