It Pays to Have Good Email Manners

Sara Kappler
5 min readJan 15, 2024
It pays to have good Email Manners. Photo with hand holding fanned out $100 bills.

Bad manners are a no-no, whether in life or in email marketing. As an email marketing agency, we’ve got a front row seat to observe growing industry trends of questionable email practices and can confidently say: Good email manners are good for your brand’s bottom line.

This post delves into basic email etiquette and explains how good manners translate into greater revenue and ultimately greater success for your business.

Here are four tips for good email manners:

1. Email the Right People.

This is crucial: only email those who want to hear from you. A bigger list isn’t always better. What matters is deliverability and engagement. A smaller, engaged audience is far more valuable than a large, disinterested one.

Example: Imagine you have a list of 10,000 email subscribers, but about half of those people have not shown recent signs of interest or engagement with your brand (ex, email opens, clicks, visited your web pages, browsed a product). For the purpose of this exercise let’s say 5,000 of those email subscribers have shown some sign of interest in the last 3 months.

As the client, you want your message to go out to *everyone*. As an email marketing agency, I try to explain that sending to your engaged subscribers is best. I explain that when bounce rates are higher, spam rates are higher, unsubscribes are higher, you actually will not get the deliverability you want — and those that do see your email will not be the highly engaged group.

It’s a pattern we see time and time again (and have many times pulled numbers for clients to illustrate this point).

Here’s an example of that math, based on realistic rates and numbers we’ve seen in accounts.

What about purchased lists, you might ask? That’s even worse; don’t get me started. I’ll have to reign in my emotional response on this one and try to articulate a meaningful explanation of why it’s not worth anyone’s time. Let me say simply now, I’ve yet to see purchased lists be worth the cost, time or hype.

2. Be Respectful and Pace Yourself.

Email marketing is a direct 1:1 communication channel, and its success relies more on building relationships with people than mass advertising. Just like you would when meeting someone for the first time in real life, introduce yourself and think long term about the value of the relationship rather than going for the quick win.

Example: Imagine you’re meeting a neighbor for the first time. Would you lead with:

“Hi! So nice to meet you. We just moved in. Here’s a bottle of wine!”

Vs.

“Hi! Can we count on you to pull our trash out to the curb when we’re not here?”

Anyone who’s had a good neighbor knows the value of that relationship is priceless. Being overly aggressive with a flurry of sales and promotions in the beginning with new email subscribers is a common misguided tactic. Sure, you might get some sales — just like you might get some kind neighbors who say yes to the trash help request. But it’s short-sighted.

When you take things slow and steady over time with your email marketing messages, it pays off. Our clients across industries see the value of re-working their welcome flows to be more relationship building. They enjoy lower overall unsubscribe rates, and higher lifetime customer values by implementing long-term value building email marketing strategies.

3. Don’t Be Creepy.

In the age of data-driven email marketing, we have a lot of information about consumer’s shopping and browsing behavior to draw on. It’s a fine line to use this data without coming off as creepy.

Do you like shopping and having someone looking over your shoulder? Probably not. In the same vein, you can be tactful in how you use data to communicate with potential customers.

Example: Consider these Browse Abandonment Emails:

“We know you want this product. We saw you looking!”

Vs.

“Trying to choose the right [category name]? Here are 3 tips to make the right decision.”

Having knowledge about what consumers are browsing and adding to their carts is powerful. But long term, thinking about what kinds of messages would be well-received by those on the fence will lead to increases in revenue.

With one client who’d had a more aggressive browse abandonment flow in place from a previous agency, we recently optimized their browse abandonment flow, creating segments per category and creating more nuanced content to help shoppers make decisions. The result? A four-fold increase in revenue from their flow, from one month to the next.

4. Take a Hint.

When you’re emailing people, there are some basic rules you have to follow like giving people an easy way to opt-out and respecting consent.

However, one that we see, similar to “Don’t email everyone on your list” is to learn to let people go if they’re just not interested.

Example: If someone isn’t engaging with your emails over time, it’s time to create a more thoughtful “sunset flow” to attempt to re-engage them. If they re-engage, great! If not, take a hint and email them less often.

This doesn’t mean you can never email them again. With our clients, we plan campaigns to larger, colder audiences. For example, if you’re launching a new product line and have some amazing news to share, then why not. But if people aren’t engaging with your emails, they’ll pull down your deliverability over time and clog up your stats. That’s why when campaign planning, we try to identify a few campaigns each quarter whose goal is re-engagement. This is a different goal from conversion.

Conclusion

In email, business, and life, manners matter. Overstepping boundaries can damage relationships, and in email, that can be quantified by examining regularly your domain reputation, unsubscribe and spam rates, even open rates and click rates.

In the long term, it pays to have good manners. Your email marketing metrics will be healthy, your audience will be engaged, and you’ll see revenue increase.

At Centric Squared, we focus on customer-centric marketing for data-centric growth. We take pride in ethical and effective email strategies. Learn more about our email marketing services, SMS marketing services, and list growth services.

Ready to elevate your email marketing?

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Sara Kappler

I run a CRM-Driven marketing agency. Mom of three. Flexible work advocate. Data nerd. Overachiever.