We explore the optimal pace of emails for promotions, newsletters, value-added engagement, and other types of email marketing campaigns.
What You’ll Learn:
- The importance of reviewing your competitors
- Tailor your emails based on your products
- Segment your email marketing list
- Let the customer lifecycle dictate email cadence
- Give your consumers an idea of what to expect
- The dangers of sending too many emails
- How to promote your product organically
Determining how often to send email marketing communication is vital to audience engagement, as well as your bottom line. In this article, I’ll discuss some things that should come into play when setting email frequency. Then, I’ll share some tips for making sure you get it right.
It’s tempting to apply the old “spray and pray” approach to sending emails, where you blast out missives at a high rate, assuming it’s a numbers game, and some of your recipients are bound to convert.
Review Industry Norms
As famed finance author Robert Kiyosaki once wrote: if you want to get rich, find out what everybody else is doing and do the exact opposite.
In other words, being a follower won’t get you very far. Still, there are some industry benchmarks you should be aware of in order to figure out how often to send email marketing materials.
What works for a B2C clothing brand versus an insurance company versus a SaaS company may well be very different things. Check out industry stats to get a baseline. Look at your competitors by signing up for their email lists–how many emails do they send per week, per month?
Keep in mind that while you can learn from your competitors, make sure you don’t copy their strategies. I’ll get into this more further down the page, but you’ll want to base your strategy around your subscribers and their unique behaviors–which even within one industry can vary dramatically from one company to the next.
What Do You Sell?
Another factor in setting your email cadence is what kinds of products or services your company sells.
For example, if you’re selling seasonal items like holiday decorations, you might ramp up frequency ahead of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.
Alternatively, if you’re say, running a digital marketing agency, you might send daily (or weekly) marketing news updates, tips, and other content to keep subscribers informed.
Segment Your List
By now, you should know better than to only rely on one giant marketing list.
Segmenting your customers is not only a great way to avoid oversharing, but it also makes it easier to tailor your communications to different stages in the customer journey, varying interests, and interaction histories.
You might find that different segments prefer emails at different frequencies. As you become aware of these individual differences, be sure to update your email marketing strategy with a frequency that matches the desired email volume for each segment.
Give Customers the Power to Choose
Speaking of segmentation, it’s smart to let your customers decide how often they receive communications from your brand. Present this information when new subscribers sign-up for your mailing list or take a poll to establish consensus.
From there, you’ll also want to make it clear to your audience how people can manage their communication preferences. Consider setting up an email preference center that allows users to update the frequency themselves like SendGrid has done in the example below:
A preference center is a simple solution that offers a few distinct benefits. For one, instead of opting out of communications altogether, the preference center offers an easy way for customers to modify the way you interact with them.
Let the Customer Lifecycle Dictate the Cadence
Customer lifecycle is another key consideration when it comes to determining your email marketing frequency. How often do repeat customers make a purchase?
If they generally purchase every six months or so, it’s probably not the best idea to start sending super promotional emails to a group that isn’t actively participating in the buying process.
Instead, you’ll want to focus your efforts on getting your customers to adopt your solution and start reaping the benefits of your solution.
So, if you have a SaaS product, your email marketing communications might initially focus on nurturing the customer through the sales process.
Then later, after a purchase is made, communications then shift toward ensuring that your customer is successfully using your product. That might involve creating a short onboarding series, followed by semi-regular mailings that cover tips and tricks this group might find useful.
Set Expectations Out of the Gate
According to Marketing Sherpa, more than 80% of customers say they expect monthly emails. Yet, less than 20% of those same consumers want daily emails.
As such, you’ll want to give consumers a sense of what to expect in terms of communications.
A few additional tips for setting and exceeding expectations:
- Send a welcome email to new subscribers. Here, you can introduce your email series and lay out expectations for how you’ll communicate moving forward. For example if you’re offering a weekly newsletter, you might say, “each week we round up a few of our top stories…”
- Make good on those promises. If someone signs up for newsletters, don’t send them product updates unless they opt in to those alerts. On the flip side, you’ll also want to make sure that you send that weekly newsletter as promised to those expecting to hear from you.
- Relevance is everything. Deliver valuable information that your audience cares about. Use segment behavior and user preferences as your guide.
Beware of Oversharing
Sometimes, ramping up your send frequency can deliver great results. In the oft-cited case of UK insurer, Aviva, increasing the number of emails sent to their customers resulted in 304% more clicks.
That said, this case is unique because initially, the brand only sent one email per year when policies were about to expire. For most companies, ramping up is a death sentence for their email marketing campaigns.
The number one reason people unsubscribe from email lists is that they get too many messages from a single sender. No matter how great your newsletter copy is, no one is thrilled to find that a single brand is dominating the inbox.
How Do You Know if You’re Sending Too Many Emails?
The simple answer is, your subscribers will drop like flies if they’re not happy with your cadence. That said, here are some signs that something needs to change:
- Subscribers are marking you as spam.
- Your unsubscribes are surging.
- Your audience stops engaging with your emails.
- You send emails but nothing happens.
Promote Your Product “Organically”
- Blog Content. Use all of that blog content to your advantage by including interesting insights into your email campaigns. This is a simple way to increase brand awareness and position yourself as an expert in your space. Keep in mind, your email should be “useful,” which means you’ll want to ensure that the pieces you choose to share answer relevant questions or inform your audience of something they should know about.
For example, if I’m using this strategy to promote Ignite, I might use this space to let my subscribers know about a new YouTube ad format or a big change in the Google algorithm, then provide some tips for adjusting to that change.
- Brand Updates. Have you recently released any new features? Made changes to your product? Rolled out a new podcast/blog series/video collection? If so, share it with your audience via email. Keep in mind, the trick here, is to not be overly promotional. For example, if you’ve rolled out a new feature, share updates in a way that’s useful. How might that new addition help your customers get more out of your existing suite of tools/save more time?
- Customer Stories. Customer stories are a great way to shift the focus away from talking about your brand 24/7 and let your customers take center stage. A classic example of social proof, highlighting customer successes gives subscribers an instant look at what they’ll get from working with your brand.
- Testimonials & Reviews. In a similar vein to customer stories, testimonials and reviews are another great way to build credibility with your readers, though they’re more of a quick tidbit than deep dive. You might try using quote-style testimonials from high-profile clients, highlighting a handful of glowing reviews from Yelp, Google, or Facebook, or showcasing video testimonials for a more engaging approach.
Beware of Undermailing
At the top of the page, I warned against being an “oversharer.” While it’s certainly the case that you can annoy people in your target market by emailing them too often, you can also hurt yourself by not sending emails often enough. That’s the other extreme.
When you send emails too infrequently, you’re opening the door to several risks.
Among them: difficulties keeping your subscriber list free of bad email addresses, higher complaint rates, and a poor reputation.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic number when it comes to determining how many emails you should send to your subscribers.
However, there are plenty of signals and best practices that can help you set the right cadence for your loyal readers.
Start by developing a strong content strategy, make sure all emails align toward a specific goal and let your audience lead the way.
Pay attention to your open rates, conversions, clicks, and unsubscribes, then fine-tune your strategy as you go.