The fear of Friday the 13th is called "paraskevidekatriaphobia." Luckily for email marketers, there is no scientific term for email phobia -- not yet, anyway. Emails are a daily stress-inducer for most consumers, but limiting the frequency of checking email throughout the day reduces psychological stress and increases greater well-being, according to a 2014 research report by the University of British Columbia.
Employees who receive after-work emails and phone calls are also more likely to suffer from negative health effects that include insomnia, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues, according to a recent study conducted by the German Society for Labour, Industrial and Organizational Psychological Research study. And a 2012 study by the University of California at Irvine found that people who do not check their emails for an entire work week see positive health benefits that include more natural heart rates.
Gabel, an Italian textile company, revealed to the BBC that it would ban company emails this week to help reduce stress. Should email marketers be concerned about email's correlation to stress, and what can they do to mitigate its effects?
Although most studies point to internal company communications as the main stress-inducer, frequency is an important factor. “Email overload is real,” agrees Victor Amin, data scientist at SendGrid. “Consumers can’t always keep up with the bombardment of email marketing messages in their inbox. Marketers need to be careful not to fatigue their recipients.”
“You should send multiple emails per day only rarely, and only to recipients who consistently engage with your mail,” Amin says. “For those on your list with low engagement, send less frequently. And, of course, those recipients with no engagement shouldn’t be sent to at all.”
Technology market research firm The Radicati Group estimates that 205 billion daily emails were sent in 2015, and that email frequency will grow by 3% annually to surpass 246 billion daily emails by 2019. Increasing email volume means that email marketers are facing more competition when trying to capture a consumer’s attention through their inbox, but email marketers can decrease their spam rates by segmenting email lists by engagement rate.
Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink, recommends that companies look to personalization solutions to reduce email stress. “While taking a break from email all together could be a good experiment to reduce stress in the workplace, we encourage employees and marketers to follow this advice: strive for fewer, but more highly targeted and relevant emails, to colleagues and customers alike,” Sharma says.
A recent study by MarketingSherpa reveals that consumers want to choose the frequency with which they receive email promotions and updates, which may open the door to another strategy for mitigating email stress.