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Disclaimer: I have been instructed by our marketing department, that I must put a disclaimer before this blog, just in case someone takes what I am saying seriously and actually follows this advice.

I and the company I work for (RedEye), accept no responsibility for damages caused by anyone following the advice below. The actions below would not even be carried out by specially trained professionals, so should certainly not be tried at home!

You have been warned....  

“Spam” is like a dirty word in the world of email marketing. No credible email marketer wants to be associated with it. However, there has been some talk lately insinuating email marketers are not sending enough emails and suggesting that if they send more, they’ll make more money.

I’ve even seen some theoretical figures quoted that suggest if you send to your list twice as many times, you could make twice as much money!

Apparently, email marketers are worried about over mailing their lists, upsetting their customers and being accused of being spammers. The problem is that while this line of thinking is going to upset many an email marketer, it’s also admittedly a bit of a temptation.

When the chips are down and the CEO is breathing down your neck for more sales, the thought of more emails equals more money starts to look rather appealing.

So, for anyone considering the spam approach, I’ve pulled together some tongue in cheek rules on how to be a spammer in the modern email world.

Rule one: Totally disregard priority inboxes

No one really believes that priority inboxes are even real (despite the desperate claims of the ISPs). Your email is going to be seen by the recipient, because they want it and if they didn’t they’d already have unsubscribed.

After all, you’re emailing opted in email addresses, so they will always get into the inbox. Why worry about what the ISPs are saying. 

Rule two: Ignore sender reputation

Again, another cruel rumour put about by the ISPs and their agents. Your email campaigns get blocked by the ISP’s because the so called deliverability chap(ess) at the ESP forgot to send the ISP postmaster a Christmas card this year.

Send your email campaign, regardless of any damage you will do to your so called “sender reputation”. If your emails stop going into the inbox, the deliverability person at your ESP will be able to phone up the ISP and get the emails into the inbox again. Right?

Rule three: Don’t think about future campaign performance

Do people really care if you send them irrelevant emails? (After all, they don’t pay for them do they!) Your emails will always go into the inbox because your templates are so good and don’t contain spam words.

This means that because when the recipient is ready to use your services, they’ll be able to see your email and act accordingly... email campaigns must be considered on a send by send basis.

Who cares about damaging the future value of your list by blasting it more often?

Rule four: Send to everyone on your list

You can’t tell when someone is going to want your emails, how can you? Remember, if your emails are always being delivered and going into the inbox as well, they’ll open and click when they are ready.

It doesn’t matter if the recipient hasn’t opened or clicked in a couple of years, as you can’t predict when they will again, you must send emails to them.  

Rule Five: Do not consider the customer

Why should thinking about what the customer “wants”, get in the way of you sending what you want? Considering the customer! That’s just crazy talk.

Anyway, when you think about it, the customer has signed up for these emails, so they are giving you permission to send emails about anything you want. And these are marketing emails; the customer expects to see lots of advertising and promotions, just like they see on TV.

If the customer wants to unsubscribe, they can do, by scrolling to the bottom of the template and trying to find the unsubscribe link in the small print. If they can’t be bothered to do that, they deserve to receive your emails.

Does that make you feel better now, having some cast iron justification for sending spam to your recipients?

Seriously though, sometimes in the real world, the only strategy that will appease the board or the CMO, will be one that you know goes against best practice. Despite all your hard work and nurturing you have been doing to your list and email programme, the short term blast wins the day.

This isn’t a long or medium term email marketing strategy, it’s an emergency response. Most email marketers today recognise the impact of following the rules above and would only go down that route if they had no choice.

To make the most of the modern email channel, the marketer needs a strong understanding of what makes the channel tick. In my opinion, those marketers who are seeing constant improvement in the performance of email, have this understanding.

It is important we move forward from this point, not backward.       

Tim Roe

Published 5 April, 2013 by Tim Roe

Tim Roe is Director of Data and Deliverability at Redeye International and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via LinkedIn

22 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


Mathias Burmeister

An interesting read and really rather appropriate for the current e-marketing climate. The company I work for actually started sending more newsletters (3 a week, compared to 1 a week previously) and we have seen an increase in revenue and conversions with negligible subscriber drop off. We are still getting more subscribers each week than we lose.

I appreciate that your post is meant to be taken with a pinch or three of salt, however, it needs to be said that quantity does not equal spam. It is definitely down to quality.

over 3 years ago



Well said, Mathias. Although a couple of points in the article are valid, there are no hard and fast rules about how often to broadcast to your list. As with everything it depends on your market, product and audience. Test with different frequencies, and then stay consistent. Or - shock horror - *ask* your audience what their preference is.

over 3 years ago


Antony Vila

Erm - don't think about what the customer want? Is that really good advice?

Personally, I run both bulk mailers and automated highly personalised ones and it's the personalised ones which get far greater results.

Email marketing has a low conversion rate because senders are sending unpersonalised mass communications which have little or low relevance to the user.

The way to get success with emails is to make every email valuable and worth receiving. That way it's not just 'another email from XYZ'.

If emails were always created based on the activities of the customer, then you can create this relationship - 'Hey - we saw you bought X product - here are some new products in the same category line for you to consider'.

over 3 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Thanks for your comments, many valid points here. An important point I was trying to put across here, is that the email channel is quite unlike many other media channels, especially if used as a broadcast one.

The channel is partly managed by the recipients, with their actions and behaviour contributing to inbox or junk box placement, or even totally blocking of your emails. There will be people on your list who want more emails and there will be those that want less.

Finding ways to identify those segments will help improve response rates, increase revenue and engagement. Beware of using unsubscribe or complaint rates as a measure of list engagement, I have often seen reduction in unsubscribes and complaints as a symptom of junk box placement.

One good way to use response is by considering recency of response (opens/ clicks/ sales) and measure how many on your list are responding and how recently they are doing this. As Mathias points out, its quality not quantity that wins the day. Quality in targeting, content and timing, get those right and you’ll be getting the most from your email program.

over 3 years ago

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