Recency & Frequency: the Pardot ‘hack’ that will save you from Marketing Fatigue

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‘Marketing Fatigue’ describes the tough situation when your email marketing begins to lose its impact with your audience. The signs are alarming. When open rates begin to dwindle, you can decipher that perhaps your prospects are tired of your brand’s messaging – or you may find yourself in an even worse situation, with unsubscribes shooting up.

There’s a ‘hack’ that you can set up in Pardot that will save your email marketing metrics. Recency and Frequency will alleviate marketing fatigue by suppressing (preventing) prospects from email lists if they have been emailed:

  • Too many times (in a given time frame) = frequency.
  • Too recently (in a given time frame) = recency.


This feature was introduced in Pardot late summer 2014, and has been a godsend for many to improve the quality of their marketing messages, by restricting the quantity. Beware, because now this trick is more important than ever, which we will see later in the post.

Recency & Frequency is controlled by the dynamic lists feature, by setting rules that control who belongs on the lists, or not. These lists are then used as suppression in mailings – meaning that if they are not the list, they should not be emailed.

How it works

As I mentioned, this hack is controlled by the dynamic lists feature, and you are able to set it up within minutes.

  1. Set up a Dynamic List
  2. Select the rule type: ‘Prospect has been emailed’ (first drop down box)
  3. ‘at least [x] times’: will determine your frequency, ie. the number of times they received emails
  4. ‘In the last [x] day(s)/week(s)’: will determine the recency.


You don’t want people to receive more than 3 emails a month from your company, or more than 1 a week. You would say that the prospect should belong to this suppression list if they have either:

  • been emailed more than 3 times in the past 30 days
  • OR been emailed more than 1 time in the past 1 week.

By selecting the ‘Match Any’ rule type, you can play around with adding more rules of engagement:

Why it just got a whole lot more important…

Recency & Frequency should be on every marketer’s mind to stay relevant, welcomed, and maintain an overall good reputation in the eyes of the prospect. For many, Recency & Frequency has been a ‘nice-to-have’, but is now essential for new compliance measures – to safeguard you against the law.

GDPR is the new EU data protection legislation that will come into effect May 2018 – read an overview here. GDPR outlines a number of measures to protect the improper collection, storage and usage of personal data – Recency & Frequency applies to the latter.

In this ebook, I covered the topic of ‘Original Purpose’. Your usage of personal data cannot stray from the ‘original purpose’ the individual gave you consent for, which will outline the frequency and/or recency of communication a recipient should expect from you. Recency & Frequency lists, therefore, are essential to comply.


Recency & Frequency will alleviate marketing fatigue by preventing prospects from receiving too many emails, too often from your organisation: improve the quality of marketing messages, by restricting the quantity.

Not only is it easy to set up and flexible to your requirements, but it can also reveal a lot about your email marketing you may not have realised!

Note that it cannot be promised as the ultimate cure. To stay truly relevant you need to follow email marketing best practices in conjunction with your suppression lists, such as segmenting your prospect base and performing A/B testing on email design and/or copy. Never forget about complying with your own marketing data protection policies!

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