Sonder | The Golden Rule of Email
There is a very simple rule to managing email programs that needs to be considered when developing email protocols.
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The Golden Rule of Email

The Golden Rule of Email

In case you missed it, GDPR is now enforceable as of last Friday. You probably knew it was coming, because your inbox may have experienced an explosion of “We’re Changing our Privacy Policy” emails. Whilst GDPR will affect different business in different ways, all businesses should be using it as an opportunity to review and consider their email programs.

Email databases, in our experience, are one of the most valuable media assets a business owns. Once you have the customers permission to contact them, emails are easy, cheap, fast and effective. A potent combination that makes them an attractive media channel to a marketer. It also makes email alluring to partners, so businesses can sell their emails to other like-minded brands. Rates that can be charged vary wildly. But you can expect to command anything from $50 to $350 cost per thousand (CPM).

Yet, despite its value, email is often the most abused owned media asset. Some businesses can be sending more than eight emails per week. To their entire base… Eight! That’s more than one per day.

Once a customer has had enough and unsubscribed, it is nigh on impossible to get them back, without it costing the business a great deal of money. So, what can you do to reduce email abuse, whilst still taking advantage of this incredibly powerful and valuable media asset?

You can start by applying the one, simple Golden Rule of Email… Do unto others inboxes what you would have done unto yours.

Here are a few ways the Golden Rule of Email can be applied:

  • Ask your customers how they feel about receiving emails. In many cases setting protocols and rules can be subjective. So, ask your customers… you might be surprised by their answers. Some may actually want more.
  • Send less solus emails in favour of tailored multi-message emails. If you are charging for emails, you can add significant premiums to solus emails thereby encouraging partner brands to use multi-message emails.
  • Manage the frequency protocols so that no one person receives more than their optimal number per week (see the first point).
  • If you’re charging for emails, don’t use volume discounts. It is counter-intuitive to reduce the CPM based on sending more emails. Maintain your premium and encourage smaller, more targeted campaigns.
  • Adopt behavioural based targeting so that advertising messages are targeted based on customer behaviour, not demographics. Behaviour should also inform how you engage your customers. If someone is disengaged, respect it and adapt your program.


There’s a lot more to refining and optimising an email program, but there are some basic principles of respect that can be applied. If in doubt, just apply the Golden Rule of Email and do unto others inboxes what you would have done unto yours.