5 Good Reasons Why You Should Never Send Just One Email


A few months ago, I was reviewing a client’s May email send schedule; most of it was made up of the campaigns we’d been planning together since the beginning of the year. But there was a single send that was solo; it wasn’t tagged as belonging to any campaign. Turns out it was for the Memorial Day sale – and it was soon expanded to a three-effort series… because… 

You should never send just one email. Here are five reasons why. 

1. Open Rate  

Average open rates for emails are reported to be: 

    • 17.8% (SailThru, 2020)
    • 18.0% (Campaign Monitor, 2020)
    • 21.33% (MailChimp, December 2019)
    • roughly 25% (Sparkpost, 2020)

Taking the most generous number, 25%, that means that, on average, 75% of the people you send an email to don’t open and read the message. 

Even if we try to adjust for people who read with images blocked (meaning that an open isn’t triggered), we’d probably be, best case scenario, at 50%. Realistically I believe we’d be in the 33% range. Meaning that two-thirds of your list isn’t seeing the body of your message.   

So, thinking in these terms, if you only send one email message you are willingly limiting yourself to just one-third of your list seeing the body copy. Very likely removing the other two-thirds of the list from possible action toward your goal. 

Download The Email Marketer's Survival Guide to Saying Goodbye to Apple Mail Tracking Pixels

2. Click-through Rate

Average click-through rate benchmarks for emails are surprisingly similar: 

    • 2.6% (SailThru, 2020)
    • 2.6% (Campaign Monitor, 2020)
    • 2.6% (MailChimp, December 2019)
    • roughly 2.5% (Sparkpost, 2020)

Taking the 2.6% number, that means that 97.4% of the people you send an email to don’t click on the message. Unlike open rate, that’s an absolute number; so, no need to try to adjust it. 

Again, thinking in these terms, if you only send one email message you are willingly limiting yourself to less than 3% of your audience clicking on your email. 

Even if your average click-through rate is higher – 6% or 9% -- that’s still over 90% of your list that you are giving up on getting a click from. This removes their ability to act on your offer.


3. Reach Rates

I wrote about reach rates for Webbula earlier this year. Open and click-through rate figures provide insight into how your list engaged with a single email, while open and click reach metrics provide insight into how your list engaged with multiple email messages. 

We calculate open and click reach rates by looking at unique people who opened or clicked over the course of a series of emails. When I say a series, I don’t mean that we sent the same email repeatedly. While they were developed as a series, each email had a unique primary message. Each message stood alone, but together they were intended to be greater than the sum of their parts. 

A reminder: one person, max one unique open over the series for open reach. One person, max one unique click over the series for click reach. 

Here are the open and click reach charts, with lift data, for an email series I developed for a client. 


Open Reach


Notice that we added new, unique people opening with each send. At the end of the six-effort series, our unique opens were nearly double the unique opens we garnered for the initial send. 


Click Reach


Click reach makes an even stronger case for sending multiple emails; by the end of the six-effort series, we had enticed more than three times as many people to click as we had with the first message alone. 

The reach rates clearly show that by sending only one email, you’re ignoring people who would like to engage with you via a second, third, fourth, fifth, or maybe even sixth email in the same campaign. 


4. Black Friday 2020 Results

I had the pleasure of helping a different client with their 2020 Holiday campaign. Rather than look at reach rates here, let’s look at total revenue. These are the results of our Black Friday campaign, which consisted of 5 sends over a ten-day period. 


Total Revenue


Our total revenue increased 128% from send 1 to send 2; send 2 brought in more revenue than send one. By the end of the series, we’d brought in more than four times the revenue that the initial send generated.

Imagine how much money we would have left on the table if we’d only done one send. 


5. Production Time


It’s good to look at diagnostic metrics, like open rate, click-through rate, open reach, and click reach. It’s best to look at revenue. But there’s also the value of the production team’s time to think about. 

There’s a certain amount of time that creating a single email message takes. This includes the time to draft the creative brief, write the copy, design it, code it, get feedback and approvals at each stage, QA it, set it up to deploy, etc. 

But when you include three emails which have copy and design similarities into a single creative brief and have them go through each stage of production together, it doesn’t take three times as long. It may take a little bit longer than the single email would take, but it’s a lot quicker than doing three emails which all go through the production process solo. 

This effect continues as you increase the number of emails in the brief; the process becomes more efficient. 

Therefore, if we’re using evergreen content, I will often have the creative team produce a month’s worth of email newsletters or a quarter’s worth of promotional emails all at the same time. Doing them together gets them done more quickly; if the content is evergreen there’s no harm in having it set up and ready to send days, weeks, or even a month or two before it is scheduled to deploy. 


In conclusion… 

There’s really no reason to plan or even think in terms of ‘one-off’ email messages (unless the information is very time-sensitive). But even here you should have standard templates so that the only change is copy and maybe a few images – which makes it quick to update and get approved. 

I’m not saying that you should always send 5 or 6 messages. You need to look at the specific goals of the email campaign.

For the 5-day-long Memorial Day sale we ended up sending 3 emails, which is the minimum for any sale event in my opinion: 

  • The first announces the sale when the sale begins (not before it begins – don’t send an email that people can’t yet act on)
  • The second announces ‘last chance’ when the sale is scheduled to end (you did include an end date in the original email, didn’t you?)
  • The third announces that the sale has been extended (usually for 24 hours; this always adds a few more dollars to the pot)

So do yourself a favor. Look at your send schedule and make sure that there are no ‘solo’ emails on there. If there are, find a way to either turn singles into multiples (like we did for Memorial Day), or group a few similar solos together, at least for production. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!


About the Author

Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is a recognized expert in the email marketing industry and a sought-after consultant, speaker, trainer and author specializing in email marketing strategy, tactics, creative direction, and optimization. She helps organizations make their email marketing programs more effective and more profitable.

Jeanne is Founder and Chief Strategist at Email Optimization Shop, a boutique consultancy focused on optimizing bottom-line email marketing performance with strategic testing. She is also General Manager of the Only Influencers community of email marketing professionals, Chair of the annual Email Innovations Summit conference, and an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program at Georgetown University.

Her direct response approach has helped B2B, B2C, government and non-profit clients including AARP, Capital One, Consumer Reports, Hasbro, National Education Association, Network Solutions, New York Times, PayPal, Scholastic, UPS, US General Services Administration (GSA), Verizon, Vocus (now Cision), and the World Bank.

Jeanne is based in Washington, DC, she earned her MBA from Georgetown University (Hoya Saxa!), and she is an avid hockey fan (Let’s Go Caps!).

Verify, Protect and Grow Your Database