The Email Marketing Nudnik Test:

(Nudnik: Yiddish for pain in the ass, nuisance, pest, a marketer who sends too many emails to his house list)

Okay, so how do you know – without a doubt – when you’re being a nudnik, when you’re sending too many emails to your money pot, your gold mine – your email house list?

Consider the following…

If your email open rate is less than the relative humidity in the Sahara Desert … you’re a nudnik!

If, after every send, your list shrinks faster than cotton underwear in a hot water wash … you’re a nudnik!

If you send five emails in a row and they all say the same thing – but, you change the all-important subject line … it doesn’t matter; you’re still a nudnik! 

If you’re reading this article because you’re worried you might be a nudnik … well then, you’re a sensitive, concerned and caring marketer … but you’re probably still a nudnik, and possibly a shlemiel (Yiddish for a shmo, a dope, someone who’s mother still dresses him.)

And finally … if you’re sending emails to your list three times a day, every day of the week … you’re not only a nudnik, you’re an idiot – and you probably don’t have any friends, except for a few inflatable dolls!

Will the “80/20 Rule” prevent you from becoming a nudnik?

If you’ve been a marketer for longer than it takes to read this article, you’ve no doubt heard of the “Pareto Principle,” otherwise known as the “80/20 rule.”

Named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, the principle states that 20% of invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained (you can tell I didn’t write that).

Put another way, it means 80% of your income as a marketer is typically derived from 20% of your list.

Spinning it even further – it also means, in order for you to receive your 80% from your 20% – 80% of the content of your email messages should be devoted to valuable and useful information, and 20% should be devoted to your offer or sales pitch (otherwise known as the advertorial approach).

Similarly, it also means, if you’re a content marketer, for every 10 emails you send – 8 should contain only valuable and useful content, and the other 2 should be pitches and offers.

So … if by following the Pareto Principle, in these last two regards, taking the advertorial or content marketing approach, will the 80/20 rule keep you from becoming an unrepentant nudnik, a degenerate email marketer?

No. Absolutely not.

But this I can tell you … if you increase the amount of useful and valuable content in your communications to MORE than 80% … and correspondingly decrease the space or frequency allotted to your offer and sales pitch to LESS than 20% … you’ll still be a nudnik!

Content alone cannot save you from yourself. Because content – even the most incisive, most noteworthy content – requires time to read. And time is, and will forever be, in short supply.

Even you mother, who loves you and thinks you’re the most gifted marketer in the world, doesn’t want to hear from you three times a day! And if she does hear from you that often, I guarantee, she’ll be the first to affirm – you’re a nudnik!

Furthermore, unless you’re giving away Gold Bullion – and I mean literally gold bricks or gold coins – with FREE S&H – you will never have anything to say, or anything to sell, that could justify contacting your list so inanely often that instead of merely unsubscribing from your list … your readers world rather pay to see you shipped off to the most remotest part of Afghanistan!

Use your “nudnik-odometer” to discover how often you should send emails to your list

Your nudnik-odometer is your email inbox; more specifically, the inbox of you free email account – gmail, yahoo, hotmail – that you never visit!

And the reason you don’t ever go there is this…

You’re a moderately successful marketer, with moderately limited time – and moderately limited income – so you’ve hired a moderately intelligent minimum wage employee to monitor this free email inbox for you!


You’re tired of getting emails from nudniks!

But these nudniks didn’t become nudniks immediately, now did they?

When you first subscribed to the email lists of these marketing nudniks, you had good reason – an itch that needed scratching, a problem that needed addressing – and these future nudniks made you a darn good offer.

So you bought their info product, or flea powder, or simply subscribed to a free newsletter or blog from a guru, recognized or self-proclaimed.

But then … after you got rid of your dog’s fleas … these marketers didn’t merely stay in touch with timely offers and helpful insights – they bombarded you!

They invited themselves into your family, your private space, they ate up your time, emptied your refrigerator and offered you bribes if you introduced them to your friends, neighbors and significant others.

And every day for two weeks you got an email from them that said only 24 hours left … and every chance was your last chance until your next chance … and for every 300 items left, another 500 were found … and every final offer was followed by Ooops, I made a mistake – there’s still time left!

But, you didn’t want to unsubscribe yourself from these marketer’s email lists – why, because they might be on yours!

So instead, you changed your contact info and sent them to your gmail account.

Now here’s my advice: give your minimum wage employee the afternoon off, then visit, study and count the number and frequency of emails received from these nudniks.

And see if in the naked and revealing glare of your computer screen … you see something familiar behind and beneath the graphics and text … see if you see yourself … and how annoying you’ve been to others.


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About Barry Densa

Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter. You can view samples of his work at Writing With Personality. To receive free blog post updates sign up here.


  1. How true!

  2. Matt Parmaks says:

    Obviously, you know this business. Great articcle!

  3. Saw your article over at copyblogger. Really liked reading this.

    Question: how do you know when you’re not marketing enough? Or a different way of asking, how do you know when it’s time to market/send another offer?

    • Barry Densa says:

      Actually, I just answered that at Copyblogger. But thanks for asking, Brandon.

      Here’s what I wrote:

      The easiest and potentially most profitable way to avoid being a nudnik, is to ASK if you are!

      Open a dialogue with your list. Ask them what they want, and how much of it.

      Show them you care — and that their opinion matters to you.

      Why guess? Request feedback!

      And then reward them when they answer you, both in the short term, with a heretofore promised incentive when they respond, and longer-term — with a better communication strategy!


  1. [...] Next Barry Densa formulates how often you should be sending out that newsletter and what key indicators you should watch to know if you’re sending it too often, or not often enough in “The Email Marketing Nudnik Test.” [...]

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