Friday, March 3, 2017

Another day, another email to unsubscribe. How about you?

According to, 61% of marketers identify emails as their most important digital marketing tool, ahead of websites at 59%.  (2016)  One of the keys to getting recipients to open emails is the headline.

Last week I received two emails that used a technique we call "social proof" to entice me.  That means that they offered evidence that other people were interested in something as a means to convince me that I should be too.  It's a time tested method.  When people are having trouble making a decision they will often follow the crowd.  It lowers the risk of making a bad choice.

One read: "Just announced: the #1 beach in the world!"  the other "You voted, we tallied.  Announcing the #BestDVDEver mailers."  Frankly, neither one moved me, and I deleted both emails without opening them.

According to a new study from Marketing Sherpa, 21% of consumers unsubscribe from emails that are not relevant to them.  19% unsubscribe when they receive too many emails from one company.  (Nelson, 2017)

There's a company that sends me at least one email a day, sometimes as many as three.  I've never bought anything from them and never will.  I just throw their emails into a dormant account where they pile up, until I get around to unsubscribing.  Ironically, that same company published an infographic this week about improving email open rates which indicated that only 15% of Americans appreciate receiving daily emails!  It makes me wonder if they read their own research.

They also noted that personalization is effective in increasing open rates (37%) and sales (20% increase). (Forer, 2017)

So, now it's your turn.  Has 'social proof" in a headline ever motivated you to buy something?  Or is personalization more likely to engage you?  How many emails from one company are too many?  Are more ok if you are an actual customer?

(2016, March)  Most effective digital marketing tactics worldwide in March 2016. .  Retrieved February 28, 2017, from

Nelson, J. (2017) Customer Brand Satisfaction Drives Email Engagement, Study Shows  Retrieved February 28, 2017, from

Forer, L. (2017, February 28)  How to Improve Email Open Rates.  Retrieved February 28, 2017, from


  1. Since a little over one year ago, Gmail started to categorise all incoming email as 'Primary', 'Social' and 'Promotions'. From that moment on, my main 'Primary' inbox was freed from any email newsletters (and surprisingly, it seemed very empty without all the promotional emails).

    Nevertheless, I'll still open the 'Promotions' tab to read some of my newsletters. Especially clothing brands manage to create their newsletters in a very personalised way based on either my purchase history or the items I looked at on their website.

    Still, the most effective way of opening newsletters seems to follow the 'social proof' effect. Headlines including the names of influencers I follow on social media or prominent, female figures will always trick me to open the email. Also, headlines hinting some time sensitive information make me look out for either a promotional code or the start date of a sale.

    Generally, I am more inclined to read newsletters on my mobile device (around 75% of all Google email is opened on a mobile device according to DMR Stats, 2016). Especially when riding the subway, I will scroll through some newsletters (ignoring those who still have not been made compatible to be read on a mobile device).

    Since Gmail's categorisation system has been put in place, the amount of incoming newsletters has become less important as my inbox will not be crammed by it. Generally, my favorite newsletters are sent on a weekly basis, and include a weekly recap of either new trends or industry news, and some sort of a purchase proposal based on my personal preferences.

  2. As a travel junkie, I get newsletters or "promotions" from airlines, hotels, viator,, etc, etc, etc.. Sometimes it's just too much and I will delete all of them together without even looking at the title. I think that for certain people (like me) I will go on skyscanner, or - compare prices and buy. I wont even go to my Spam folder and check back for promotions.

    As for online grocery shopping for example, I like to be reminded they're there by an email once a week, I mean it's something I need to buy.

    An email once every two weeks or once a month is "ok", but an email every day or every two days will win an "unsubscribe and delete" from anybody..

    Tomas CM

  3. Personalization sometimes attracts me while I hardly take interest in headlines which includes social proof because they don’t meet my personal needs.

    I bought some books when I received emails from Amazon. They recommend books based on my previous orders. The titles were just the names of the books, which made me curious to click those mails. They can prepare the books I would like by using algorithm.

    The mail should be less than once or twice per week. Too many emails make me have negative feeling to the senders.

    Also, the timing to receive emails might be important. From Monday to Wednesday, I tend to ignore promotion mails because I don’t afford to think about them. Probably from Thursday, I tend to think about the weekend and be more open to them.

    Wataru Watanabe

  4. I believe that an email is a very good digital marketing tool to promote products/ services, but you have to know very well how to use them, since a misuse of them can lead to a total rejection of the consumer.

    Email marketing had never motivated me to buy something, I almost always erase them, unless I'm looking for that specific thing in that specific moment. So a "social proof" has never motivated me to buy something, quite the opposite, I think those emails show how desperate a company is and how little creativity they have to sell their products or services.

    It is true that personalized emails motivate me much more to make a purchase, but they must arrive at the right moment.

    I think one email per day is a lot, and it would be appropriate once a week or every twice a week at most.

    Josefina E.

  5. It is usual some companies do this, in my experience I almost never review advertising emails unless in those days they are looking for something particular, however I always make sure to thoroughly investigate all the options in the market. I have an email for subscription and another for personal things. In addition google now has a function that classifies the received emails and sends the advertising and social media to different inbox of the main one
    I think the personalization of emails is effective, I believe this is almost instinctive to feel the need to open an email when you read your own name in the subject.
    Jhonny M