Is Your Email Tiring? How to Spot List Fatigue

It’s easy to play ostrich with email. We can spend all kinds of time upfront on email design and copywriting, refining subject lines and calls to action, crafting strategies and offers, but in the end, it’s what happens at the inbox that really matters. And we need to pay attention. Sure, we still have all the time required upfront on the design and offers, but we also need to spend a lot of time looking at the results.

Otherwise, we might miss something, perhaps the fact that we’ve grown tiresome, like a guest who has overstayed her welcome or a bore who won’t stop talking. And when our email is tiring, it is ignored. Our subscribers start to yawn and we begin to experience what an email marketing agency calls “list fatigue.”

List fatigue isn’t an overnight phenomenon that one can spot and react to right away. No, rather like the pooped out party goer, it happens gradually. Your list can start strong, generating great results and email marketing ROI but over time, as your subscribers tire of you, you’ll start to notice your list is tired too.

Although some is inevitable, there are ways to prevent list fatigue, and we will cover those in another post. Today let’s focus on how to spot list fatigue in the first place…because it’s only by knowing the signs that you’ll know it’s happening.

You’ll recognize the signs of list fatigue if you’re experiencing any (or all) of the following:

  • Your unsubscribe rate is going up: People are tired of hearing from you and so opting out, removing themselves from your in-house email list.
  • Your open rate is going down: They’ve seen it all before or simply don’t care, so won’t bother to open your emails any more.
  • Your spam rate is going up: Many people simply report emails as spam in order to stop receiving them. It’s often really an unsubscribe in disguise.
  • Your click-through rate is going down: Yes, they might still open your emails out of habit, but if they are clicking (and buying) less, you have a problem.

As part of your email marketing best practices, you should be watching all of these metrics on a regular and consistent basis. You want to react a.s.a.p. if you start seeing any of these signs of list fatigue, in part to prevent it from getting worse, but also as a way to improve and refine your email marketing program.

If you need help setting up a monitoring program, contact your favorite email marketing agency. Then be sure to stick with it, so your emails stay engaging, not tiring.

Published On: June 13th, 2012Categories: Email deliverability

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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