Email Marketing Fatigue: Is It a Thing and How To Deal With It?

Vladislav Podolyako
May 29, 2022
Reading duration

Sometimes, your email marketing campaigns fail due to a lack of email authentication protocols. Sometimes, your emails are lost to spam filters. Sometimes, your Sender Score is too low to get your messages delivered. However, sometimes, the reason for low deliverability is much, much simpler - your recipients suffer from email fatigue. In other words, they're sick and tired of finding new, unread emails in their mailboxes. 

What feels like an absurd notion is a huge problem that email marketers have to work their way around. You can control the way your email is perceived by internet service providers and email services, but a human brain is a lot more complicated and unpredictable than any algorithm. When your recipients think that enough is enough and can bring themselves to go on with their email-reading routine, you have to work even harder to find your way through the email fatigue without invoking your prospects' animosity. 

In this blog, we’ll tell you about the dangers of email fatigue and the strategies you can use to reduce its hold on your recipients and your success. 

What is email fatigue?

Email fatigue is an inevitable part of digital progress. Back when email communication was only making its first steps, people used to check every email dropping into their mailbox because it was new. It was interesting. It was fun. However, today it's just a part of their routine. Nothing special, nothing new. Plus, since everybody has mastered email marketing to some degree, many people feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of branded emails in their inboxes. In 2017, at least ⅔ of the U.S. citizens admitted being uncomfortable with receiving so many marketing messages. By 2022, email marketing fatigue became a much more common symptom shared by billions of users stuck in their homes due to the COVID-21 pandemic. According to the study conducted by the research team from the University of California, email fatigue had a tremendous impact on the employees' mental health and drove them to burnout.

When it comes to interacting with B2C customers, the situation is pretty much the same. Since the number of spam messages has drastically increased after the pandemic, your recipients are having trouble figuring out which email is relevant and which one should be trashed, which one is spam, and which one is the real deal. They end up feeling they just don't have the energy to work their way through the entire batch of emails, so they are more likely to ignore your content and start treating you as a spammer. Of course, it seems unfair to you and the hard work you do, but there is a golden rule: The customer is always right. 

How is email marketing fatigue dangerous to you?

So, we spoke about how email marketing fatigue can be harmful to your target audience. Let’s see how it can impact your campaigns. 

  • A drop in deliverability. What happens when your prospects aren't interested in reading incoming emails? They stop reading them. What happens when your emails get no engagement from your recipients? Your sender's reputation suffers. Engagement rate matters a lot for your email marketing campaigns because it proves your credibility to internet service providers and affects their decision to grant your messages passage to the inbox.
  • Lower brand reputation. Fatigue doesn't come alone. Aside from apathy, it can bring frustration, irritability, and even aggression. Fatigued recipients are quite more likely to lash out and treat your brand with animosity. For example, a frustrated user can leave a negative review on your business social media page or a review platform where your company is registered, sinking your brand image. You don't need this in your life. You want your prospects happy and calm.  
  • Blacklisted domain. Another thing is, why you should be concerned about email fatigue is that when the recipients feel that they’re sick and tired of your messages, they don’t hesitate to report them or delete them. Both these actions can result in email services treating you as a spammer and behaving accordingly. In the end, you’ll find your domain in the blacklist database. 
  • Slower campaign progress. While it isn't the most tragic outcome, email marketing campaigns are time-consuming as they are. There is no point in prolonging your hard work and building up the monotony. You must understand why the sales cycle is so long and what you can do to make it more dynamic and productive. 

Modern marketing tends to be more human-oriented and, thus, aware of the mental states that can affect the choices of your potential buyers. You can no longer pretend not to notice that your prospects are concerned or that they're too depressed due to all the buzz surrounding them.  

It’s plain wrong. 

In addition to the dubious morality of ignoring the feelings of your target audience, a modern buyer is a lot more willing to fight back and punish brands that breach their private bubble or don’t give them a wide berth.  

How to deal with email fatigue?

So, what should you do about email marketing fatigue? Should you just not bother your target audience until they get better? Should you go on and hope for the best? How do you even recognize email fatigue?

Worry not, here are some guidelines to help you out. 

The main signs of email fatigue are the following: 

  1. Increased unsubscribe rates. Fatigued users, who previously opted-in, tend to change their minds and try to distance themselves from the content they no longer want to deal with. When you notice that more and more people from your list start unsubscribing, it's quite likely that they're hitting their first stage of email marketing campaigns.
  2. Zero interaction with emails. Recipients get quite passive about incoming emails when they suffer from email marketing fatigue. Sometimes, they might open a message or two, but in general, they will just leave it gathering virtual dust in the mailbox.
  3. A larger number of spam complaints. The users who get overwhelmed by too many marketing emails tend to end up marking all of them as spam, just to make sure they never get disturbed by those messages again.

Of course, email marketing fatigue isn't a natural phenomenon. It doesn't strike suddenly. Instead, it's preceded by several factors that push down on email recipients until they snap. Knowing these factors should help you figure out the best strategy for countering them.

Aside from these causes, many other things induce email marketing fatigue; however, once you get to work on these core issues, establishing communication with your recipients should become much easier. 

How do you keep email fatigue to a minimum from your side?

Email marketing fatigue is a challenge that is a bit harder to overcome compared to email authentication issues or removing your domain name from blacklists. However, it can still be dealt with as long as you remember these rules. 

1. Work on your targeting 

Like every bit of content, emails require you to answer one simple question, “Who am I writing this for?” What is so important about the person who is going to read your email? Are they connected to a decision-making group? What is their status in the company you're targeting? What kind of advantages would they be interested in?

There is no doubt that different segments of your target audience are interested in different advantages. But you can only figure that out after you break your sending list down into categories united by similar preferences or areas of expertise. Doing this will help you determine the best course of action and make sure that no recipient feels unappreciated in your campaigns. 

2. Don’t ignore personalization

Knowing your recipient's name is a common courtesy. It shows that you did the basic work of researching your prospects and understanding their needs and goals. The modern target audience won't accept anything less and will gladly greet a deep understanding of their buying choices and preferences. 

But won’t it be too stalker-y?” you might ask. “I thought people hate it when a brand demonstrates too much awareness of their everyday life?”

Of course, being too knowledgeable about your prospects’ lives comes off as creepy and is unwelcome. You shouldn’t stick their nose into their business and tell them how to behave or what to buy. However, a message that sounds like, “Hey, [Name], did you know that [Product A] goes incredibly well with [Product B] that you bought from us recently? Here’s a set of tips you might like” is merely a suggestion from a vendor, not a breach of your prospects’ privacy. Instead of blindly gathering information, you must only keep the bits that help you realize what kind of goal your prospects pursue and how you can help them. Nothing more, nothing less. 

So, don’t forget to draw an avatar of your ideal buyer, define what motivates them and find out what benefits they would prioritize. Such preparations will help you build an atmosphere of understanding and trust that would make you a welcome sender even during a bad case of email marketing fatigue. 

3. Watch the stats

When you need to figure out the ideal amount of messages to send to recipients who suffer from a bad case of email fatigue, you need more than a gut feeling. You need numbers and analytics. You must know which campaigns drive the highest number of clicks and opens and which should be set aside for a while. With modern opportunities, it's not that hard:

  • Use on-site analytics. Track your daily traffic and see where your visitors come from. How many of them find you in search results? How many of them come by following a link in your email?
  • Run performance tests. Tools like Folderly provide great insights on your campaigns, your deliverability, and your open rates. You can analyze each mailbox and see how it performs and whether the results match your expectations. 

Using analytics should help you understand whether your prospects are affected by email marketing fatigue and if you should take immediate measures to prove that you’re their friend, not another nosy marketer trying to force your offer on them



Email marketing fatigue is a real thing, and it can have a real impact on your marketing campaigns. But don't let that stop you from building a relationship with your customers and getting your emails delivered. As long as you are tactful, attentive, and ready to analyze your steps and implement corrective actions, you can make it and offer your target audience something different and capable of distracting them from the dullness surrounding them. 

As for analysis, run Folderly and see whether it fits your way of monitoring email campaigns

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

Also you may like