The scatter effect and how it can easily double your engagement (or better!)

Scatter Effect

Engagement is the holy grail when it comes to maximising your chances of hitting the inbox. The greater your engagement, the more likely it is that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo will deliver your messages to the inbox rather than the spam folder.

Many people ask me, “How can I maximise my engagement?”

Today, I’m going to share one of the most effective ways of reaching more people on your mailing list than any other.

I call it the “scatter effect”.

I’ve always had a gut feel that the more often you send emails to the engaged portion of your list, the more likely it is that more people will see your email.

Recently, I ran my first ever product launch to my email list.

As part of the launch, I sent 12 emails over a 15-day period and was able to learn a huge amount about engagement by analysing the results.

What I learnt was nothing short of staggering! 

In that 15-day period, just over 80% of my engaged audience opened at least one email from me!

Given that my typical average open rate was 34%, that goes to show just how important it is to communicate with your audience regularly, because of what I call the scatter effect.

So, What Exactly Is The Scatter Effect?

When we send a one-off email to our audience, only a small proportion of people will open it. Normally, the average is somewhere between 20 and 30%. My typical open rates recently have been around 34% when mailing to the engaged part of my audience.

Let’s say that your typical email “broadcast” has an open rate of 20%.

When you send more emails on an ongoing basis, it stands to reason that it won’t be the same 20% of your audience that open each one. Some people open everything, others won’t open any, and different people will open different emails. 

This is why I call it the scatter effect. 

If you scatter thousands of seeds from a height, they’ll all land in different places. The more you keep scattering the seeds from the same place, the more ground will get covered by them – some might land in the same place, but “outliers” will always reach a slightly wider area.

And that’s what’s happening when you send more than one email. Some emails will be opened by the same people, others will be opened by different people.

Real World Example

To illustrate this, I’m going to share the figures from my product launch. It was sent to a relatively small list (fewer than 800 people), but the principles will still apply when your list is many, many times bigger. 

Out of the 777 people who received all 12 emails, 622 opened at least one of them (that’s just over 80%!) and some people opened every single email.

15% of the audience only opened 1 out of the 12 emails; almost 12% opened two out of the 12 emails. The numbers are a little lower and more consistent after that – between 4 and 6% of the audience each opened between 3 and 12 emails.

The overall open rate across all the emails sent was still only 34%, so that goes to show just how wide the scatter effect was in this case.

What If I Send Fewer Emails?

Now, imagine if you only sent one email per month.

In that case, it will take about a year to reach 80% of your audience, by which time maybe as much as half of them might have disengaged from you. (The average attrition rate of lost subscribers due to disengagement can be as high as 10% per month).

Why It Pays To Send More Frequent Emails

But, because I sent the same number of emails in just over two weeks, it meant that I reached 80 percent of my audience much more quickly, before very many of them had disengaged.

So, one lesson to learn from this exercise is to increase the frequency at which you send emails if you’d like to maintain your engagement and get your message to more people. Once a week is better than once a month, twice a week is better than once a week, and so on.


As always, with power comes responsibility!

If you’re going to send emails frequently, for the love of all things sacred, please make sure that you’re only sending excellent content that’s adding massive value that your audience wants to receive. 

If not, you’ll end up with lots of unsubscribes and, likely, more than a few spam complaints.

So make sure you get the balance right!

How did I analyse this?

I actually wrote an extension to my Deliverability Defender software to be able to do this analysis. 

If you’d like me to do a similar analysis on a launch that you’ve run, or on your regular email sending, please get in touch.

Take Your Free Email Health Check Now!

And, if you haven’t come across Deliverability Defender yet, or taken your email health check, click here to do that right now. The health check is totally free and will share some great tips to improve your email engagement and deliverability.


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