Email Fatigue in Email Marketing: What is It and How to Avoid It

email fatigue illustration with a tired man

Every good salesman knows that making a pitch is all about finding a sweet spot — you have to find a rhythm where both you and a prospective customer benefit from an interaction. To do this, you have to really be tuned into what your customer wants; if you push too hard, they will dislike you, but if you don’t push hard enough, they will lose interest. It’s all about balance.

Let’s extend this example to email marketing. When you push too hard — email fatigue happens. 

But how many emails is too much, and how many is too little? You want to remain fresh in the minds of your recipients, yet avoid bombarding them with emails. What’s the perfect formula to avoid this phenomenon known as email fatigue?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one. There are ways to navigate it, though — and in this detailed guide, we share everything you need to know about email burnout and ways to prevent it among your subscribers.


Table of Contents


What is Email Fatigue?

In email marketing, email fatigue refers to a situation where subscribers become disengaged or overwhelmed due to the frequency or repetitiveness of marketing emails they receive from you. 

When subscribers experience email burnout, they may be less likely to open emails, click on links, or take desired actions, which can negatively impact the overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.


What are the Signs of Email Fatigue?

Recognizing signs of email fatigue among your subscribers is crucial for maintaining a positive relationship and optimizing the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns

Here are common signs your subscribers might be experiencing email boredom:

  1. Decreased open rates: A noticeable decline in the percentage of subscribers opening your emails may indicate they are becoming disengaged.
  2. Dip in CTR: If subscribers are clicking on your email links less frequently, it could suggest fading interest or a reluctance to engage with your content.
  3. Increased unsubscribes: A spike in the number of subscribers opting out of your email list is a clear sign of dissatisfaction. This may be a result of receiving too many emails or content that no longer resonates.
  4. Higher spam reports: An increase in the number of recipients marking your emails as spam can indicate dissatisfaction or a perception your emails are unwanted.
  5. Poor response to interactive content: If your emails typically include CTAs or interactive elements (like surveys or feedback requests), a lack of response may signal subscriber fatigue.
  6. Inactive subscribers: If you notice a growing subset of subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails for an extended period (2-3 months), it may indicate they no longer find value in your content.
  7. Negative feedback: If you receive direct feedback from your subscribers expressing feelings of being overwhelmed or receiving too many emails, take it seriously!
  8. Email bounces: An increase in email bounces (undeliverable emails) can be a sign your subscriber list needs cleaning and that certain addresses are no longer valid.

Been noticing some of these patterns recently? You should be concerned — here’s why.


Why Email Fatigue is Bad News for Email Marketers

Email fatigue can directly affect your ROI. It can also be bad for your brand image as the people on your list spread the word that you send spammy content. 

Let’s look at a few of the ill effects of email fatigue among your readers:

  • Email fatigue is bad for the engagement rates of your email campaigns. Subscribers who are overwhelmed or disinterested are less likely to open your emails, click on links, or take desired actions. 
  • Deliverability is a huge challenge for subscribers. High levels of email tiredness can result in problematic metrics like spam complaints and unsubscribes. These actions can negatively impact your sender reputation with ESPs, potentially leading to your emails being filtered to spam folders or blocked altogether.
  • If subscribers are fatigued, they are less likely to convert on your CTAs or make purchases
  • Email tiredness can strain the relationship between you and your subscribers. When you don’t respect their time and preferences or send irrelevant content, you risk straining the relationship with your audience.
  • Continuing to send unwanted or excessive emails can lead to legal compliance issues. Regulatory authorities enforcing the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States or the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe can clamp down on your operations if you push the limits of email burnout among your subscribers. 
  • Overwhelming subscribers with emails can have a negative impact on your brand’s image. A considerate and respectful approach to email marketing, taking into account subscriber preferences and fatigue, contributes to a positive brand reputation.
  • Effective email marketing relies on achieving a strong return on investment. By emailing disinterested subscribers, you are wasting time and money which will reflect on your email marketing ROI.

Caring about subscriber email fatigue is also essential to protect your sender reputation. Avoiding email apathy is critical to optimizing conversion rates and preserving email list quality. 


Top Causes of Email Fatigue

Before we offer you the solution to email fatigue, Let’s review the top causes. It’s always a possibility that content marketers are guilty of a few of these, as they excitedly share content with their email list without considering the subscribers’ point of view.

These common factors contribute to email tiredness among readers:

  1. Excessive email volume: Sending too many emails in a short period or bombarding subscribers with frequent messages can lead to fatigue. Subscribers may feel overwhelmed and start ignoring or unsubscribing from the emails.
  2. Repetitive email content: If the content of the emails becomes repetitive or lacks variety, subscribers may lose interest. Seeing the same types of promotions, messages, or offers repeatedly can lead to a decline in engagement.
  3. Irrelevant messages: Sending emails that are not relevant to the interests or needs of the subscribers can contribute to fatigue. Subscribers are more likely to engage with emails that provide value and meet their expectations.
  4. Poor personalization: Generic, one-size-fits-all emails may not resonate with subscribers. Personalized and targeted content tends to be more effective in maintaining subscriber interest.
  5. Bad timing: Sending emails at inappropriate times, such as too frequently or during off-hours, can contribute to fatigue. Subscribers may appreciate a more balanced and considerate email schedule.

If any of these factors seem familiar, cease doing them immediately. But there’s more to it — if you want to learn how to prevent email apathy from happening, ever, this next section has you covered!


How to Prevent Email Fatigue in Subscribers

Finally, we get to the solutions! Now that you know what email apathy looks like and what the top causes for it are, it’s time to remedy this.

Here’s a table explaining the different methods of tackling email fatigue in subscribers:

StepExplanation
Study your campaign metricsExamining your metrics can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not.
Segment your listsSegmentation is the first step to sending relevant content, which helps prevent email fatigue in your recipients. 
Personalize the contentSending personalized content is more valuable for a reader than cookie-cutter messages.
Monitor feedbackAre your readers voicing their thoughts on your content? Ask for feedback, but also monitor social media channels or conduct closed-group surveys for input.
A/B testingThis is the best way to figure out what your subscribers love and respond to.
Email timingTiming your emails perfectly is essential to preventing email fatigue.
How to Fix Email Fatigue

Next, let’s explore each of these elements in detail.


Monitor Your Metrics: Study Where the Email Fatigue Occurs

A good place to check whether your subscribers are tired of the email influx would be your ESP’s analytics dashboard. Besides this, you can also examine your social media and website analytics pages.

Here’s how to use data to resolve email fatigue issues:

  • Study the drop-off: Examine your engagement rates to get an idea of when the email tiredness could have occurred. Was there an event that triggered it? Was it a new style of content? Are you keeping your content fresh for your subscribers? Addressing these questions can pull up answers for your problem.
  • Examine the landing page: Study your website analytics to see if your customers are unhappy with the landing page for any reason. Set the correct expectations in your email so that the page they visit upon clicking the CTA button is clutter-free and helps in quick conversion.
  • Check social media for complaints: Your subscribers may be talking about your content or messages on your social media platforms. Monitor your pages or conduct polls on social media platforms for additional insight.
  • Technical issues: Examine your open rates and click rates to detect where the dip happened. Is there any kind of technical issue causing subscribers to avoid interacting with your email? Is there any change in delivery rates or deliverability rates? Test your emails to verify the load times are good — readers will immediately move on from an email that takes too long to load.

With adequate data scrubbing, you should be able to pinpoint the exact point where your readers got overwhelmed by your emails!


Email List Segmentation

Email list segmentation is a powerful strategy in email marketing that involves dividing your email list into smaller, targeted segments based on specific criteria. Implementing the best segmentation tactics is probably the most effective method to reduce email fatigue, which is why it’s so high up on this list.

Let’s review the benefits regular segmentation brings to email burnout.

1. Relevant Content Delivery

Segmentation allows you to fine-tune your email content to the unique preferences, interests, and behaviors of each segment. By sending more relevant and personalized content, you increase the chances of capturing your audience’s attention and reducing email apathy.

2. Optimized Email Frequency

Different segments of your audience may have varying preferences when it comes to email frequency. Segmentation enables you to adjust the frequency of your emails based on the characteristics of each segment, preventing overmailing and minimizing the risk of recipients being overwhelmed by too many emails.

3. Targeted Offers

Segmentation enables you to target specific groups with promotions and offers that are more likely to resonate with their needs and preferences. This increases the likelihood of engagement and reduces the perception of receiving irrelevant emails.

4. Behavioral Targeting

Segmenting your list based on user behavior, such as past purchases, website interactions, or email engagement, allows you to send targeted messages aligned with subscribers’ actions. This ensures your emails are more in tune with their interests, reducing the risk of fatigue. We will expand on this a bit more in the personalization section.

5. Targeting is Relevant to Position in Marketing Funnel

Subscribers go through various stages in their relationship with your company; from new prospects to loyal customers. Imagine a repeat customer receiving an email introducing your company’s most popular products — they’d see it as an annoying waste of time. 

Segmentation based on these stages allows you to send appropriate content at each stage, preventing subscribers from receiving content that may not be relevant to their current position in the customer journey.

6. Geographic Segmentation

Your subscriber hears a notification on their phone and checks it to see an email for you. The email informs them of a massive sale on your products at your store, except… the store is in another state!

Segmentation helps avoid this scenario. If your audience is spread across different regions, geographic segmentation can be beneficial — it allows you to send localized content, promotions, or event invitations, ensuring your emails are more pertinent to the specific location of each segment.

Email list segmentation allows you to treat your subscribers as individuals with unique preferences. By sending targeted and personalized emails to specific segments, you can significantly reduce the risk of email burnout!


Personalized Content: Make Your Customer Feel Special

Personalized content in email marketing can be a powerful strategy to address email fatigue by creating a more relevant and engaging experience for individual subscribers. 

Here’s how personalized content contributes to reducing burnout from emails:

  • Improve relevance: Personalization allows you to tailor your content to the specific interests, preferences, and choices of each subscriber. By delivering content that aligns with their individual needs, you increase the relevance of your emails, making readers more likely to appreciate and engage with your messages.
  • Keep content exciting: Personalized content helps you diversify your messaging. Subscribers may experience fatigue when constantly receiving generic or repetitive messages. By incorporating personalization, you can vary the content based on factors such as past purchases, browsing history, or demographic information.
  • Superior user experience: Providing a personalized user experience demonstrates you understand and value your subscribers. It creates a sense of connection and makes recipients feel that you curated content specifically for them, reducing the likelihood of fatigue.
  • Personalize subject lines: Tailoring subject lines for individual subscribers can increase open rates. Recipients are more likely to open emails that immediately resonate with their interests, reducing the chances of them ignoring or deleting your message.
  • Dynamic content: Implementing dynamic content elements allows you to create personalized sections within your emails that can greatly excite your readers. You can include personalized product recommendations, localized offers, or use subscriber-specific data for innovative sections.
  • Follow up on website actions: Use behavioral triggers to send personalized emails based on subscriber behavior on your website. For example, if a prospect abandons a shopping cart, send a personalized follow-up email with information about the items left in the cart to re-engage them.
  • Custom offers: Send personalized offers and product recommendations to your subscribers based on their purchase history/browsing behavior. This adds value to your emails by showcasing products or services that align with their preferences.

You can combat email burnout by delivering more relevant, varied, and personalized messages to individual subscribers. This approach enhances the subscriber experience and creates a more positive impression of your brand’s email messages.


Email Timing Matters: Are You Doing It Right?

How many times have you checked your phone to see an email notification and decided to check it later, only to completely forget about it? If it happens to you, it happens to your subscribers too. That’s why you need to nail the timing of your marketing emails.

Email timing is the strategic scheduling of email campaigns to ensure you send messages at optimal times for maximum impact and engagement. Sending emails at appropriate times respects the daily routines and schedules of your subscribers — by avoiding inconvenient times, such as late at night or during busy work hours, you reduce the likelihood of your emails seeming intrusive.

Sending emails in the right time slots can lead to higher open rates. Emails that are opened and read are more likely to be engaging and valuable, contributing to a positive experience for subscribers.

The benefits to your open rates could extend to click-through rates, too. Sending emails when subscribers are more receptive can result in improved CTR, as individuals are more likely to interact with your content.

Timing isn’t just about the day or week — time your emails to coincide with specific seasons, holidays, or events to enhance engagement. The holiday season is a great time to email your readers; this strategic approach ensures your messages align with the activities of your readers.

By being precise with the timing of your email campaigns, you demonstrate a commitment to delivering content when it is most likely to be well-received. This approach reduces the risk of subscribers being overwhelmed by your emails and contributes to a positive relationship with your brand.


List Hygiene Benefits Everyone

Email list management is crucial to maintaining a healthy and engaged subscriber list. It involves regularly cleaning and managing your email list to confirm it only contains active and interested recipients. Cleaning your list ensures you get great engagement rates and disinterested subscribers stop receiving your emails — it’s a win-win.

List hygiene plays a significant role in reducing email tiredness for several reasons:

  1. It ensures messages are relevant to active and engaged subscribers.
  2. It helps maintain a positive sender reputation for better inbox placement.
  3. Cleaning lists minimizes bounce rates by removing invalid or inactive email addresses.
  4. You can remove disinterested subscribers, reducing the likelihood of spam complaints.
  5. List scrubbing helps engagement metrics by focusing on an interested audience, which is also great for resource management.
  6. List cleaning is vital for compliance with email marketing regulations as you confirm unsubscribe requests.

Regular list maintenance has a lot of benefits; that’s why we introduced the automated list-cleaning feature on Campaign Refinery. It keeps an eye on troublemakers like spam traps, bots, seed accounts, invalid emails, and complainer IDs so your deliverability never suffers because you sent an email to them. And you don’t have to lift a finger — our algo takes care of it all!

By ensuring your list only contains engaged readers, you greatly reduce the chances of email boredom. An added benefit is that mailbox providers pay attention to your engagement rates and assign a higher sender score to you, which means your emails land in the inbox more often!


A/B Testing: Discover Your Subscribers’ Likes and Dislikes

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a powerful method to optimize various elements of your email campaigns by comparing different versions and determining which performs better. While A/B testing itself doesn’t directly reduce email burnout, it is an invaluable tool for refining your email marketing strategy in ways that can help reduce fatigue and assist with overall engagement. 

Here are the elements you can experiment with during your testing process:

  • Subject lines: Variations in wording, length, or tone.
  • Sender name: Testing a personal name vs. a brand name.
  • Email content: Different messaging or content structure.
  • CTA: Testing different CTA buttons, text, or placement.
  • Images or design: Variations in the type, size, or placement of images.
  • Timing: Testing different send times or days of the week.

You can figure out the perfect formula for different segments of your email list. Next, let’s look at how you can tackle your email fatigue issue by studying your A/B test results.

Here’s a table explaining how A/B testing contributes to reducing email ennui:

FactorRole in Reducing Email Fatigue
Content relevanceA/B testing helps identify engaging and relevant content. Tailoring emails based on results reduces fatigue.
Email timingExperimenting with different send times ensures emails reach subscribers when they are most receptive, reducing fatigue.
Email frequencyTesting variations in frequency helps find the right balance, preventing excessive email volume and subscriber overload.
Subject linesA/B testing helps optimize subject lines and preview text, reducing fatigue by grabbing attention effectively.
PersonalizationTesting personalized elements refines strategies for more engaging content, reducing fatigue from generic messages.
Segmentation testingTesting different segments ensures targeted content, minimizing fatigue from irrelevant messages.
The Benefits of A/B Testing

With the aid of A/B testing, you should be able to resolve email fatigue issues and run campaigns that generate excellent engagement rates.


Run Re-Engagement Campaigns

Re-engagement campaigns can be an effective strategy to win back disengaged subscribers who may be overwhelmed by too many emails. Such campaigns aim to reconnect with inactive subscribers, rekindle their interest, and encourage them to become active again. 

Here’s a guide on how to implement a re-engagement campaign:

  1. Determine criteria for identifying inactive subscribers. This could be based on factors like lack of opens, clicks, or engagement over a specific period (say, 2-3 months).
  2. Create a segment with your inactive subscribers. This allows you to tailor re-engagement content specifically for this group.
  3. Create an attention-grabbing email that addresses the fact that you’ve noticed their inactivity and wish to re-engage. Highlight any new or exciting developments, offers, or content.
  4. Include a clear and convincing CTA in your emails. This could be a special offer, a link to updated content, or an invitation to provide feedback.
  5. Provide options for subscribers who might want to adjust their email preferences, such as frequency or content preferences. This demonstrates you value their preferences and are willing to accommodate them.
  6. Use urgency or exclusivity in your messaging to encourage immediate action. Limited-time offers or exclusive access can motivate subscribers to re-engage sooner. This is why we offer Evergreen Flash Sales at Campaign Refinery — the engagement rates are simply mind-blowing.
  7. Personalize the re-engagement email by using the subscriber’s name and referencing their previous interactions or preferences — this can make the email more relevant and appealing.
  8. Keep a close eye on the responses to your re-engagement campaign. Track opens, clicks, and any feedback you receive. Use this data to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign.
  9. If subscribers still do not engage after the re-engagement campaign, consider removing them from your list. This is beneficial for list hygiene and improves overall engagement metrics.
  10. Use the insights gained from your re-engagement campaign to improve your email marketing strategy continually. Apply what you’ve learned to future campaigns and adjust your approach based on subscriber feedback.

Re-engagement campaigns are not a one-size-fits-all solution; their effectiveness may vary, depending on various factors. However, they are effective at times and can help renew subscriber interest in your email communications.


Campaign Refinery: Teaching You the Art of Email Marketing

In email marketing, you must stay focused on your goals and avoid distractions. You need robust analytics and a bird’s eye view of your campaigns and their performance so you know exactly when to react. 

This is why we made the Campaign Refinery UI so simple. You can execute precise campaigns, segment your lists, create audiences, design complex automation with ease, and access accurate campaign metrics. This is what peak control looks like!

When you combine these features with the best deliverability rates in the industry, you can be confident of two things, as a Campaign Refinery client: 

  1. Your emails will consistently land in the inbox.
  2. Whenever email fatigue occurs, you will immediately detect it.

It’s not just about working with the best ESP, though; email marketing also demands you implement best practices. But it can take close to a decade of experimenting to get it right — what do you do if you want to learn the secrets of the pros today? What’s the quickest way to do that?

The answer lies in The Inbox Formula. It’s a short guidebook of actionable steps that you can apply to take your email marketing to the next level. This book covers topics like IP and domain reputation, list management strategies, and industry insights that will open your mind to just how much is possible with email marketing.

And we don’t want a single cent for it; the guide is 100% FREE.

Click here to download The Inbox Formula now!

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