OtherSmaily's Industry Insights

Clean and Green: How to Act Responsibly in Email Marketing?

Laptop with an eco-friendly idea light bulb
Laptop with an eco-friendly idea light bulb
Sources: Freepik & Freepik

Imagine if more than 100 letters were slipped into your inbox every day. Yes, we mean the mailbox where the postman puts city or county papers, advertising, various notices, and also some bills. Of course, the latter is if you are among those who still receive invoices on paper. Such a quantity of letters seems troublesome even if these 100 letters are not all invoices – although sometimes their number may feel as such. Now, visualize how another sticker appears on the mailbox next to the sticker “No junk mail please!” which says “1034 unread letters”. And also imagine that in this metal box of a magical nature, you actually have this amount of unread letters inside. A really unpleasant idea indeed!

It may seem that this “real” mailbox and the virtual mailbox are essentially not comparable in any way, but this is not quite the case. By all means, more than a hundred daily paper letters would be an unconquerable reading task and also a very unfriendly sight. Besides that, virtual letters seem like a guilt-free alternative that can be sent in any form and quantity. Unfortunately, you cannot get out of here with a clear conscience.

Even Emails Have an Ecological Footprint

Ecological footprint refers to the amount of human use of the environment compared to the capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems to reproduce these resources. Scientists have calculated that each email sent produces 4 grams of carbon. So sending any email is not just a button press. Emails with attachments are not taken into account here. For example, it is recommended to avoid adding an attachment in work emails if possible – or in any other email at this point – and instead, for example, put a link in the email that leads to files stored on the web. Namely, sending an email with an attachment produces as much as 50 grams of CO2. And that’s already quite a difference. 

The average person adds 136 kilograms of CO2 to their carbon footprint every year by sending and receiving emails. This is equivalent to about 320 kilometers driven by car.

Billions of Emails Every Day

Although sending a letter on paper consumes more energy (as much as 20 times more than sending an email), e-mails are sent in much larger quantities in the world every day. Every year, the number of emails sent has visibly increased, reaching 333.2 billion messages sent per day in 2022. Statistics with this number will not peak because, based on the data of the study in question, it is predicted that by 2025 the number of emails sent will increase to more than 376 billion per day. Worldwide e-mail use produces as much CO2 as seven million additional cars on the road.

These huge numbers inevitably cause concern, especially considering that each such email has an ecological footprint. What can we do to reduce it on our part?

All readers of this article probably have at least one email address. Although we can’t put a no-spam sticker on our inbox, we can keep our inbox clean and delete all unnecessary mail – both from the spam folder, from the main folder, and from our own e-mails. Let’s be honest, even this sticker on our regular mailbox won’t prevent the postman from putting the latest sales page of some store chain into it. We have even less control over what ends up in our mailboxes. If we delete all the virtual unnecessary and take the paper material made unnecessary to, for example, reproduction, we can significantly clean the environment in which we are.

But how can we reduce the ecological footprint resulting from e-mails in our working environment as well?

Greener Email Marketing 

Email marketing continues to be one of the best ways to make your brand voice heard, communicate with customers, and make your business more effective – thus, there is no getting around it. At the same time, when conducting our own business activities, we should keep in mind that we operate as environmentally conscious and sustainable as possible.

Woman working outdoors with a white laptop
Source: Freepik

So, let’s look at what we can do as email marketers to be as responsible as possible.

Regularly Clean Your Mailing List

Thanks to the mailing list, we can spread the word about our great products and services. Of course, for all email marketers, having the largest possible mailing list seems like something to strive for. But think for a moment – does a huge list always consist only of those people who are committed to your brand and actually want to read your emails? The answer is probably no. So, are all those emails sent by us always necessary? 

To avoid the status of a spammer and unnecessary production in email marketing, check your email list from time to time and remove people who haven’t opened your emails in a while. To be completely sure of their lack of interest, you can send them a personalized notification about unsubscribing them. After that, don’t waste your own and other people’s time and resources, and remove uninterested parties from your mailing list.

And last but not least, one of the most important points that we want to emphasize – in any case, refrain from buying mailing lists! Not being designed according to your target group, a bought list pointlessly wastes both your marketing budget as well as the environment.

Time Your Emails Carefully

A well-timed email is more likely to achieve its goal than an email sent too late or at an inappropriate time. Now, this may seem like a point purely about business, but it also plays a big role in sustainability. 

A promotional email for Christmas products on December 22nd? By then, your customers have probably already pulled the cord out of the wall and are spending the holidays with their family or loved ones. Discounts for a customer on the day of their birthday? Most likely, on this important day, the client no longer has time to check their emails. An email introducing summer products in mid-August? It’s probable that your client is already sitting behind the desk from their summer vacation by this time. All of these emails sent at the wrong time are quite likely to end up in the trash, so the resource spent on sending them has been wasted.

When sending your letter, take into account the season and upcoming (or past) anniversaries and holidays, the beginning and end of the month, and the weekday and time of day. Also, consider the customer’s personal behaviorpersonalizing also helps a lot in determining the right timing.

Make Sure Your Email Marketing is GDPR Compliant

Email marketing is a great way to reach the right people who are genuinely interested in your products and services. To reach them, we must first get them on our mailing list and, most importantly, ask their permission to do so.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a general regulation on the protection of personal data that applies throughout Europe since May 2018, and its purpose is to establish a common and strong, easy-to-understand protection for people’s personal data. This regulation directly affects those involved in email marketing. Unfortunately, not all companies follow the rules of this legislation, which in turn can lead to serious consequences. 

In addition to providing people with personal data protection, GDPR has proven that reducing email also reduces our carbon footprint. With the GDPR law, companies are obligated to ask for consent before sending out digital advertisements and other mailings. Since this legislation came into effect, the number of marketing emails landing in people’s inboxes has dropped by as much as 1.2 billion per day. This means that the GDPR has effectively reduced CO2 emissions by 360 tonnes per day, which is the equivalent of saving 260 hectares of forest, or 650,000 trees. How can you be a part of such a rescue mission? Send emails to people who have given you permission to do so.

Quality Over Quantity

Finally, we highlight the most important point that makes your email marketing activities both more successful for your business and friendlier to the environment. Don’t create and send too many emails! This applies to newsletters, product and event promotions, automatic notifications, business emails, and any other email (including personal ones). 

Frustrated man looking at his laptop
Source: Freepik

If you are planning a successful marketing campaign, keep in mind that you do not burden your customers with excessive emails. This kind of email marketing fatigue works against your wishes, and instead of ensuring successful business, you lose newsletter subscribers and interest in what you have to say. According to statistics, approximately 122.23 billion spam emails are sent every day. If you compare the total number of emails sent per day with the amount of spam, the share of the latter is huge. If we would filter out all spam, only 22.43 billion emails would have legitimate content, which is expected by the recipient – this is significantly less than the number we previously mentioned. Imagine how many resources would be saved if everyone was a little more responsible in their emailing actions?

In addition – keep quality in mind when exchanging emails with colleagues and partners. It has been found that the average office worker sends over 40 emails a day. At the same time, the total number of e-mails received by the office worker per day is between 100 and 120. Have you heard the saying “it could’ve been an email” about face-to-face meetings? Instead, we state that many things could be said face to face instead of by email. 

Sustainable Email Marketing: In Conclusion

Sending emails to your current and future customers is still an essential part of your marketing plan. To remain as environmentally conscious as possible when advertising your goods and sharing content, keep in mind the advice given in this article, which has been proven to help reduce the size of your ecological footprint. Take greener steps in your business and, why not, in your office life, by preferring more environmentally friendly alternatives for daily operations. 

Share this information and your own green tips with your readers, as people are happy to support companies whose environmental friendliness they can be sure of. Choose carefully which emails you spend your ideas and talents, time, and natural resources on, as all of these mentioned are precious.