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  • Writer's pictureLiz Maguire

Signs of Email Fatigue and How to Avoid It.

While normally these posts are addressed to business owners (and it sill will be, bear with!) for this post, imagine that you are not just a business owner but a consumer rather. You're doing a great job. Now, pretend you check your email and there's just too many. It happens to everyone, eventually. This is known as 'email fatigue' or where, for whatever reason, brands you as a subscriber have engaged with over-abuse the privilege and flood you with messaging. In this post we'll talk about the signs of email fatigue and how to avoid it.

Increased rates of email fatigue particularly strike around the holiday season when every brand you've ever thought of let alone purchased from, starts emailing you about not only their promotions and bargains but their holiday traditions and charitable donations. Your inbox begins to look like a notice board. Some people who are just annoyed enough will methodically unsubscribe, sometimes, in frustration replying to the messages with a line or two about 'Enough is ENOUGH.' Others will delete, delete, delete without opening. And the majority? Will neither delete or unsubscribe but instead let the thousands and thousands of email messages grow into the triple and quadruple digits of their inbox.

Read on for signs of email fatigue as a business owner and how you can instil healthy sending practices to avoid losing leads.


The fastest way to diagnose email fatigue in your email marketing strategy is to look at your deliverability report (or as much as you are able to glean from your service provider). Deliverability is:

The health of your communications channel to reach subscribers. Hubspot defines deliverability as the 'feedback loop' of your messaging.

Some red flags in your deliverability report to keep an eye on, are:

  1. Decreased Open and Click Thru Rates: Open Rates are found by % opened over the rate of messages that were delivered. Open Rates tell us how the subject line performed in the inbox. Click Thru Rate (CTR) is the % of people who opened the email (yay!) and who clicked something in the email, like a link to the website product or blog.

  2. Drop in Conversion Rates: Conversion Rate are the % of people who ordered something through the email, from your website. This tells us how well the emails are working for sales directly.

  3. Increased Spam Complaints: More subscribers toggling your messaging as Spam means that hosts like Google or Yahoo will (if not automatically) move your messaging from prime inbox real estate (primary OR promotions tab for Google users) to the Dead Mans Land of the Spam folder.

A bonus metric that will be recorded more by the department (usually Customer Service) responsible for replying to customer queries, will be an increase in complaint replies. These complaints should be logged somehow on your system so that you can at a glance get an idea of customer issues...i.e. delayed shipping, poor product, or frustration at frequency of marketing communications.


Thankfully, it's easy to find the root cause for email fatigue as likely one of two things. One, either you are sending way too many messages way too often. Or, two, you are sending way too many messages to every one way too often. Huh?

Too Frequent Sending: Email marketing (done well) is a drug, sometimes. You might send a regular communication and see a nice churn of conversion from that with consistency. In times of high promotion or low sales, it can be very tempting to increase the sending frequency to not just capitalize on that seemingly 'guaranteed' profit but maximize it.

But, remember Icarus! And trust your email marketing employee or freelancer. Repeatedly messaging damages a brand more than helps it. Rather than send 3x messages a week during promotion send 1 really good one. Over time you should have developed a regular send pattern (day and time) that trains not just the inboxes but the subscribers when to expect messaging. Abusing that will only do damage.

Segmenting: Are you mailing to your whole list, regularly? This is not the best practice. Segmenting your list into different units means that you can differentiate the sends and messaging to that specific audience. This also means that you are less likely to take a hit on your Open or Click Thru Rate if you are sending it to a segment of highly engaged, likely to interact users. Sending 1 message to 50k subscribers is going to produce a different, weaker result than sending 1 message to 20k and 1 message to 10k. Don't get too specific in your 'niching' (narrowing down of segments) but consider defining different customer types and changing up your messaging to suit their needs.


Email fatigue can be avoided with a thoughtful communication calendar and a measured response to the very real 'Can we send another email?' request. Being in tune with your list health is the responsibility of the employee or freelancer managing your email marketing. Keeping frequency and segmenting in mind, email marketing can be a healthy channel when utilized properly.


Email fatigue is a very real disease in email marketing. Be aware of your deliverability stats and always keep an eye on your sending frequency and segmenting.

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Have a question about email fatigue or email marketing in general? Write to us at today.

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