I have a shameful confession to make: I have well over 2,000 unread emails in my inbox.

I know, I know. Tech savvy gentlemen of this century shouldn’t have such ballooned inboxes, but I’ve fallen into a trap and I can’t seem to get out of it.

You see, at some point I signed up with all these different companies to get email advertising with them. I’ve done it so that I can order their products from the convenience of my own home, I’ve done it to get special deals that are otherwise unavailable, and I’ve done it because of a dozen other reasons.

My email address is valuable information for companies and marketers. Email addresses are like children: once born, they cannot be unmade. They’re in the world, and these digital identities will outlast our human lives. It’s more valuable to have this information than it is the address of our own home.

People like me find ourselves in this junk mail predicament because companies and marketers will often take advantage of this privilege to communicate with me in this way. The information they send consumers is not worth our time, has no real clever or creative content, or they blast the emails out so often that it’s all white noise.

Want an example of organizations who have completely lost me?

Political organizations. They’re the worst.

Everything with them is the most important piece of information they’ve ever sent anyone, and almost all of them want me to do something. It’s usually that they want money. Chip in five bucks here, chip in three there. They happen a few times a week or more, and it’s completely tuned me out.

The worst part about them is that I signed up for it, because at one point I was interested. I wanted to receive information. The continued pleas have become so incessant that now their messages just sit in my inbox unread until I go on a deleting binge, and those have become the easy ones to delete. I can get rid of a few dozen of them without putting much thought into it.

Want an example of an organization who hasn’t completely lost me?

American Airlines.

What’s cool about them is that they don’t completely bombard me with emails. Generally once a week they let me know what special fares are going from my city to other cities, because yes, I do want to go on a vacation.

They’re selling something that I do very much want, and though I cannot always afford it with time or money, they’re reminding me about that thing I want just often enough for it to be relevant to my life. They walk that fine line between losing me and being there for me when I want their product.

So when it comes to reaching out to customers with email marketing, make sure you’re on the right side of that fine line. Get the information that customers care about to them, and don’t slam them with information. Or else you’ll just lose them entirely.