Email marketing etiquette for newsletters and email notifications

Web & Digital Advice

Digital and web advice from Headscape and the addled brain of Paul Boag... tell me more

Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Friday, 22nd February, 2013

Ranting about email marketing

It’s time we established some email marketing etiquette. Even if you are complying with legal requirements, you are still in danger of damaging your brand.

Marketing Short Audio Tips:
The estimated time to read this article is 2 minutes

I frigging hate email! In many ways this doesn’t make sense when compared to the alternatives:

  • It is less intrusive than the phone, Skype or even IM.
  • It is easier to archive and search than the alternatives, including Facebook or Twitter.
  • It has near universal adoption.

But despite that I hate it.

The problem isn’t spam

You might think you know why I hate it, but you probably don’t. You might think it is to do with SPAM, but that isn’t strictly true.

After all, most email clients have superb spam filters. In fact I wish that other forms of communication (particularly the phone) could boast spam filters as good.

Newsletters and notifications

No, the reason I hate email is because of emails I have apparently agreed to receive, but have no memory of.

I get bloody thousands of them. Newsletters from companies I once purchased from and have long forgotten.

I have no memory of agreeing to an email subscription when I bought a Stardock app, but I still regularly receive emails from them.

Then there are the ‘notifications’ from web applications that I can’t remember the login details of.

Thanks Twitter. Start sending me notifications without my permission for an account I no longer use and don’t have the login info to unsubscribe from.

And then there are emails from new startups who are convinced I give a toss about what they are promoting. It feels like a never-ending stream.

Email marketing étiquette

This got me thinking. Am I part of the problem? I send out my own weekly newsletter. I advise clients on their email marketing strategy. Am I as annoying as all those jerks who crush my spirit every morning when I open my email client.

I then started to think about how I could be more responsible in the way I used email and in what I recommended to clients. This led to my latest post for Smashing Magazine, where I looked at the etiquette of email marketing.

Admittedly this is just my opinion, but I would love to know if you agree.

Read my opinion on what makes for good email marketing

“Open mail with paper” images courtesy of

Become a web expert with our newsletter

Receive invaluable advice every three weeks and get two free video presentations for subscribing. You can unsubscribe in one click.

Blog Updates

You can follow all my posts by subscribing to my RSS feed or signing up to my email newsletter above.

Podcast Updates

Subscribe to the podcast via itunes or RSS. You can also subscribe to my quick tips via itunes and RSS too.

Social Updates

I am completely addicted to Twitter so try following me there. I also have a Facebook page which contains considerably less waffle.


Boagworld is a community, not just the voice of one blogger. You've read the post, now its time to get involved.