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Why You Shouldn’t Resend to Subscribers Who Didn’t Open

And other practices to avoid for optimal email deliverability

Disclaimer: Our blog posts on deliverability and DNS settings, including DMARC, SPF, and DKIM records, are informative but not exhaustive. Making these changes can impact your sending capabilities. We strongly recommend consulting a deliverability expert or the beehiiv support team before implementing any changes.

One of the most frustrating questions I get is whether or not beehiiv allows you to resend your newsletter campaigns to subscribers who didn’t open it on the first send. And while the answer is technically yes, it’s truthfully a terrible idea that should be avoided.


First, let’s start with why people think it’s a good idea. Let’s say you have 10,000 subscribers. You send your daily newsletter in the morning, and you get a healthy 40% open rate, equating to roughly 4,000 unique opens.

Congrats, that’s really great engagement! However, while 40% is nice, that means that technically 60% of your list didn’t open the email. And for some people, that sounds like an opportunity to try again in an attempt to squeeze some more juice out of this campaign.

So they’ll send that same email campaign just a few hours later—but only send it to the 6,000 people who didn’t initially open it.

Odds are, some people in that second cohort will open the email, so senders feel justified.

“Yay! That second send got a 5% open rate, which is an additional 300 opens I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten! 300 more people, what a success!”

While simple math would tell you that 4,300 opens > 4,000 opens…it’s not that black and white. Email deliverability is a long game, and inboxes like Gmail and Outlook are always keeping score.

For a more detailed explanation I’d recommend reading this quick guide on email deliverability. But as a synopsis, these inboxes are constantly tracking the performance of your campaigns and looking for strong positive indicators (opens, clicks, replies) and strong negative indicators (auto-delete, spam complaints).

Why You Shouldn’t Resend to Subscribers Who Didn’t Open

Optimizing for a higher open rate does more than just look good on your dashboard. A high open rate shows email service providers like Gmail and Outlook that they should continue to deliver your mail to recipients' primary inboxes. Inversely, a lower open rate increases the chances that they bulk your email into spam, or block it altogether.

In the example above, your initial campaign had an open rate of 40% (4,000 / 10,000), which is really strong, and well above industry average. Inboxes will continue to reward you for that type of engagement.

But after sending that second campaign (in the same day no less), your aggregate open rate is only 27% (4,300 / 16,000). You’ve nearly cut your engagement in half by choosing to send again to your least engaged subscribers.

Why You Shouldn’t Resend to Subscribers Who Didn’t Open

What’s worse is that when you send your next full campaign to all 10,000 subscribers, inboxes may heavily factor your latest campaign performance to identify more recent trends in engagement. In that case, they’ll see your previous campaign had only a 5% open rate, which is incredibly poor, and will likely increase the chances they bulk your upcoming campaign into spam.

This would impact higher quality subscribers as well as the lesser engaged subscribers, so you’re now actively shooting yourself in the foot.

And that’s not all. In addition to the suppressed aggregate open rates of your campaigns, you’ll undoubtedly rack up significantly more spam complaints with this strategy.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of these subscribers who may not have opened in that first window:

Why You Shouldn’t Resend to Subscribers Who Didn’t Open
  1. Perhaps they live in a different timezone and just haven’t gotten around to opening it yet. Now that you are essentially sending them duplicate emails for every campaign, I’d imagine many will either unsubscribe, or worse—mark as spam to make it stop.

  2. A lot of readers have certain privacy settings in place that won’t indicate that they have actually opened an email. So from your perspective, it looks unopened, but there’s a chance that they really have. And now they’re receiving duplicate emails throughout the day, which would likely lead to high spam complaints.

  3. In general, these are lesser engaged subscribers. If someone is naturally not engaging with your content, why would your natural intuition be to send them more content?

The truth is, you’re never going to have a 100% open rate (unless you’re only sending a tiny letter to a few friends). That’s just a fact of life in the newsletter space. But trying to milk your campaigns for a few extra opens will end up doing considerably more harm than good.

I’ve worked with some of the largest and most successful newsletters in the world, and none had ever even considered deploying this strategy due to the known downsides.

Do yourself a favor and save yourself a lot of future heartache— don’t resend your campaigns to unengaged readers.

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