sustainable email marketing

Sustainable marketing – How to reduce the carbon footprint of your email campaigns

Email marketing is more environmentally friendly than postal direct mail. Research from Esendex found a 10-gram letter made from recycled paper that gets recycled after use has an estimated carbon footprint of 140 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). An email in comparison is around 4 grams of CO2e. However, it is important to also consider that an average open rate is only 21% when using a cloud-based email platform such as MailChimp. 79% of unread emails, many of which are never deleted just sit in obsolete accounts, preserved in cyberspace.

How does sending emails have an impact on the environment?

The collective technology involved in email marketing still generates carbon and an ongoing cost to the environment. When we send an email, we use electricity to run your computer and also the server supporting the cloud-based email provider. Servers generate heat and need to be cooled, exacerbating the problem. When an email is received it can sit in someone’s inbox for days or months, using electricity in the data centres who maintain and back up the inboxes. As promotion offers and messages expire an email’s content may no longer be relevant, but continues to take up space on servers. The majority of servers are run as cheaply as possible and therefore not powered by green energy so the electricity needed to do all this is generated from fossil fuels.

Awareness of the impact of email marketing on our planet

Unfortunately most of us are totally unaware of the impact our email marketing is having on the environment. Research from Ovo Energy shows that 72% of the UK are unaware of the footprint attached to our inbox. In addition, more than 64 million unnecessary emails are sent in Britain every day. This contributes 23,475 tonnes of carbon each year, equivalent to 81,152 flights from London to Madrid.

Email remains a key component of modern marketing, but the amount of carbon produced can be reduced. Here are a few suggestions to make your email marketing greener.

Clean your database of email contacts and update preferences

Unsubscribe buttons are compulsory but how obvious and easy to use are they? When did you last ask people to update their preferences? Consider building in processes to make sure you are regularly engaging with customers to update their email preferences. In addition, make sure you are regularly removing bounced email addresses. Low bounce rates are a sign that your database is not only clean, but it is more sustainable too.

Segment your data to better target your messages

Segmenting your database into groups of customers allows you to create much more relevant messages for each specific group. Targeted emails will be more effective because they deliver the right message at the right time and customers are much more likely to click on any links or go to your website. This in turn leads to higher open rates which mean less wasted emails. According to Dotdigital ROI increases up to 760% when email campaigns are targeted and segmented.

Reduce the carbon bulge by reducing your email file size

Images and graphics can give a better visual experience and grab attention but unfortunately, they will increase the file size. This in turn takes up more storage space and requires more energy to send and receive. GIFs have become increasingly popular, but they are effectively made up of lots of images.  Cutting out GIFs or reducing the size of your images and compressing them will reduce the size of the email and improve load times, leading to a better customer experience and using less energy. 

Avoid sending unnecessary emails

Sending too many emails can lead to customers unsubscribing. Review your data to identify your communication sweet spot. Some email automation systems will allow customers to opt into receiving different frequencies or types of emails that can help reduce the number of unwanted emails.

Email automation sequences are now commonplace and make mass communication almost too easy. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and consider if the message is necessary or too frequent.

All the small actions add up to make a big difference

In summary, we all can do more to make our email marketing more sustainable. All of these changes are marketing good practice but also have the benefit of reducing your carbon footprint. These actions may seem small and insignificant, but all these little changes add up and will help save our planet. In addition, they will also make your email marketing more effective and customer centric.

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  1. […] We can reduce our carbon consumption in our digital marketing too. Images and graphics on our websites and email campaigns can give a better visual experience and grab attention but unfortunately, they will increase the file size. This in turn takes up more storage space and requires more energy to send and receive. Cutting out GIFs, reducing the size of your images and compressing them will speed up websites and improve load times, leading to a better customer experience and using less energy.  See the blog on how to make your email marketing more sustainable here […]

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