4 simple ways we could reduce our email marketing carbon footprint

How often have you thought about reducing the carbon footprint of your email marketing programme?

We’re going to go out on a limb here and take an educated guess that the answer is: “Not very often.”

Don’t worry. That’s ok. 

But we’re going to take one more leap of faith and suggest sustainability is something that’s on your radar and you care about. Let’s face it, wherever you look, from fashion and construction through to hospitality and finance, sustainability is in the limelight – and rightly so.

Because, lurking in the shadows behind global pandemics and military invasions, is a climate crisis that threatens all of us..

In April 2022, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in their landmark report into climate change that immediate action needs to happen across all sectors to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. In short, to echo the words of the IPCC, it’s now or never.

And, believe it or not, while it has a lower impact than some other marketing channels, email marketing can create a bigger carbon footprint than you might expect.

According to research from Mike Berners-Lee (brother of world wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee) in his book How Bad Are Bananas? the carbon footprint for a standard, personal email is equivalent to 4g CO2, while an email with a large attachment or file size is more than ten times this amount. He deduced that the number of emails sent by a typical office worker in a year uses enough energy to drive a car 200 miles.  

To be clear, sending lots of emails isn’t going to kill the planet on its own. But reducing the number of unnecessary emails we send can definitely have a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions.

Here are some of our thoughts on’ how we can reduce our email marketing carbon footprint…

1. Stay on top of email marketing data

When was the last time you gave your email marketing database a good old cleanse? If you’re still sending emails to that person who signed up to the list via a competition you ran three years ago but has never opened a single one then what are they doing on the database? 

Lapsed subscribers who aren’t engaging with content should be removed from databases. They serve no purpose being there. Sure, they might make it seem like you have a lot of subscribers but if they aren’t engaging with the emails there’s no point continuing to send to them.

Cleansing the database and removing these types of subscribers has a whole host of benefits. It can reduce the email marketing budget , it can improve sender reputation, improve deliverability and it will reduce the carbon footprint. These are the kind of win-wins we love.

Find out more about how we can help with email marketing data management…  

2. Turning off unnecessary automated emails

We love email marketing automation. It helps businesses do more with less, can be the catalyst for building brilliant relationships with customers, and can fuel growth. But it is susceptible to a ‘set it and forget it’ approach. 

Unnecessary automated emails can be hugely detrimental. They can erode consumer confidence, they can add to email ‘overload’ and, as a result of this, can quickly see customers unsubscribing.

We should all regularly check automation programmes, making sure rules are set up correctly and turning off any that aren’t needed. It’s good for business and good for the planet.

Find out more about how we can help you with email marketing automation…

3. Get smart with email marketing segmentation

As we all know segmentation is the practice of dividing data based on subscriber interests and characteristics. It helps build detailed profiles of customers in order to provide them with content that resonates on a personal level. 

On a database with 50,000 subscribers, there’s no guarantee they are all going to be interested in the same thing. So instead of sending to all of them, we send to a segment of the database who we know (based on their preferences and engagement activity) are going to be interested in the content of the email. 

Hotels are a great example for this. Take a ‘locals only’ offer. If this gets sent to the whole database (including previous guests who aren’t locals) it’s both unnecessary and has the potential to annoy people who can’t claim the offer. So, by using postcode data for example, the hotel can easily send the email just to their local guests. Send size is reduced (and so is the carbon footprint) and relevant content always gets better results.

Find out more about using and understanding your data here…

4. Minimise errors with better Quality Control

We’ve all been there with the dreaded ‘Oops we made a mistake’ email. It happens, we get it. But with better sign off processes and quality checks, you can make your email marketing deployment as bulletproof as possible. For example, every email campaign we send out at Jarrang must adhere to our robust and stringent 43 point quality check process. Not only does this significantly reduce the margin for error, it ensures we maintain the highest of standards for our clients and their database.

By doing everything we can to eliminate errors, we reduce the need for having to send emails apologising to subscribers. Once again, it’s better for business and has the added bonus of being better for the environment.

Find out more about how to send error free emails here…

So there you have it, our view is by working and thinking smarter we can reduce the volume of emails being sent. This will strengthen the entire email marketing programme and it can reduce our collective carbon footprint.

It’s a great way to be proactive about sustainability especially as more and more of us are looking for new, innovative ways to champion sustainable practices in our businesses.

If you want to talk about any of the areas we’ve covered here, we’d love to chat.