Recency and Frequency: Avoid Email Fatigue With Account Engagement (Pardot)

By Lucy Mazalon

Recency and frequency are controls you can put in place to start alleviating marketing fatigue with Account Engagement (Pardot).

“Marketing fatigue” describes the phenomenon when email marketing loses its impact with your audience. Just like how “fatigue” means tired and sluggish, prospects feel indifferent towards your campaigns, and alarmingly, you’ll see email metrics begin to dwindle.

These controls are applied using dynamic lists (that update continuously). The list is then used as a suppression list which prevents prospects from certain campaigns, if they have been emailed too many times (frequency) in a given time frame (recency).

Improve the quality of your marketing campaigns by restricting the quantity. This trick has become more important than ever. Let’s explore recency and frequency in Account Engagement (Pardot).

Step 1: Dynamic List

Create a dynamic list, and select the rule type: “Prospect has been emailed”.

READ MORE: Pardot Dynamic Lists for Faster Segmentation (+ Examples)
  • “At least [x] times” will determine the frequency, i.e. the number of times they received emails.
  • “In the last [x] day(s)/week(s)” will determine the recency, i.e. the period of time you’re measuring.

In the example below, we’re stating that prospects who have been emailed 3 (or more) times in the last 30 days, should not be emailed.

Step 2: Apply as a Suppression List

Remember, if a prospect qualifies for the list, they should not be emailed. Therefore, add the dynamic list to the “suppression lists” box in any list emails and Engagement Studio programs:

As this is a dynamic list, if a prospect is in an Engagement Studio program, and they qualify for the suppression list, they will be removed from the program. If they then don’t qualify for the list, and the program is still in progress, and the prospect wouldn’t have otherwise finished the program, then they will be re-added back into the program at the step they left at.

Extending Recency and Frequency

By selecting the Match All rule type you can play around with adding more rules. You can narrow down on particular segments that could be showing different engagement behaviors to the rest of your prospect database. For example, manufacturing prospects could tend to engage with less emails, so you set tighter boundaries for them:

By selecting the “Match any” rule type, add more recency and frequency rules to keep everything in one list (simpler to manage suppressions, and communicate across your team):

Recency and Frequency for Static Lists?

The rule “prospect has been emailed” which controls recency and frequency is only found on dynamic lists. Of course, this is for a reason! Recency and frequency constantly changes, which dynamic lists can handle.

You can create a one-time snapshot of the recency and frequency list by adding those prospects in the dynamic list into a static list – but it’s not recommended!

Why Not Use “Do Not Email”?

A good question that needs clearing up. Again, recency and frequency constantly changes, and the “Do Not Email” field is intended for permanent/semi-permanent suppression. As dynamic lists update automatically, you don’t need to interfere with any data management.

Einstein Engagement Frequency

Let Einstein decide when prospects are receiving too many emails, based on their previous engagement with Einstein Engagement Frequency. This replaces rules-based “recency and frequency” with no need to hard code these figures into dynamic lists. Prospects will be automatically classified as “Undersaturated”, “On Target”, or “Saturated”.

READ MORE: Einstein Engagement Frequency: Marketing Cloud and Account Engagement (Pardot)

Why Recency and Frequency is Important

Recency and frequency should be on every marketer’s mind to stay relevant and welcomed by prospects, and overall, keep your sending reputation at a good level. Sending emails to unengaged subscribers damages your deliverability score in the long run.

READ MORE: Domain Health Check for Email Deliverability

This is also key for staying compliant with any preferences that prospects have selected. Perhaps you’ve included an option on your email preference center, where prospects have updated their preferred frequency.


Recency and frequency in Pardot is controlled by the dynamic lists feature, and you are able to set it up within minutes. You need to remember to apply this list as a suppression list to any list emails/Engagement Studio programs, and communicate this to the rest of your team.

Recency and frequency can reveal a lot about your email marketing cadence that you may not have realized, so it’s worth having a play around with different rules to get a pulse on your prospect database. Consider using recency and frequency to improve the quality of marketing messages, by restricting the quantity.

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.


    Elliot Jong
    December 01, 2022 6:25 pm
    Hi Lucy, This method is great however I encounter challenge using it. I created a dynamic suppression list that is supposed to suppress prospects who has been emailed more than 1 time in the past 1 day. Let's say my prospect is in multiple engagement programs and when he or she gets out of the dynamic suppression list, the prospect gets multiple emails (not intended), because it will take around 5 mins to re-enroll the prospects back into the list as the system takes time to process an email send and mark a prospect accurately. Do you have any clever solution to mitigate this issue? Thank you! I've been learning so much from your blog posts!!
    Lucy Mazalon
    December 27, 2022 3:57 pm
    Hi Elliot, Thanks for your kind words. This is the aspect of designing marketing automation that can cause headaches (I sympathise!) Have you considered using Einstein Engagement Frequency? I know it's not in everyone's budget, but it could be worth exploring for your use case.

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