Email Frequency: How often should you email your list?

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This age-old marketing question pops up all the time in one form or another. Our clients regularly ask us:

  • How often should I email my customers?
  • How often should I send email promotions to my prospects?
  • Am I doing too much or too little email marketing?

Well, as much as we would love to be able to give you a clear-cut answer like ‘Every 10 days’ or ‘Twice a month’ it’s unfortunately just not that simple (sorry!). So, in this article we explore the factors that can and should affect email frequency, and some techniques for improving your email-marketing schedule.

Value your data

  • Email marketing can be a relatively inexpensive method of communicating with your customers. You can email huge volumes for a fraction of the cost of traditional DM. However…
  • Because broadcast costs are so low, many brands adopt an approach of emailing everyone very frequently – on a daily basis, or even multiple times in a day!
  • Although the initial outlay for this method of communication may be very low, you should always value your data, and consider the impact on customers
    - Will normally engaged customers become irritated or unsubscribe?
    - Will important messages or your best offers be lost in the morass of emails you send?
    - Could you damage your entire brand by getting a reputation as a spam emailer?

Be fit for purpose

  • For different types of activity, different frequencies may be suitable. For example, you may wish to send a special offer one month. In this case, it could be appropriate to promote the offer initially, then remind non-responders, and finally let people know when the offer is about to expire.
  • Your subject matter, sector, target audience and other factors will determine how often will be most appropriate, but always keep your goals and purpose in mind to help you identify the optimum frequency.

Competitive awareness

  • Sign-up to email newsletters and mailers from others in your sector. This will enable you to gauge the frequency and regularity of their campaigns and thereby better inform your policies regarding email frequency.
  • You may decide to do the same, or to promote your brand more frequently, or to send fewer emails, setting yourself apart as less ‘spammy’.

Quality over quantity

  • If in doubt we would generally recommend quality over quantity.
  • Make sure you are sharing relevant content or promotions. Relevancy is vital to minimise unsubscribes and/or your emails being viewed as a spam.

Segmentation

  • The frequency that is appropriate for one group of recipients may not be suitable for another group.
  • Use segmentation to group your lists and allow you to communicate with each group in the most appropriate way – insight and analysis services are available to help you decide on the best segments to create.

Test and learn

  • Every business should test email frequency to maximize engagement and response. You will need to take multiple factors into account when accessing the results of your tests, e.g. opens, clicks, responses, unsubscribes, etc.
  • Start gradually and build up the number of emails from that baseline. Continue for as long as you see an increase in performance.
  • As soon as you see a drop in performance or an increase in unsubscribes, it is most probably time to either reduce or cap the frequency of your communications.
  • Try AB testing the frequency and see which group gets better results; e.g. the one you email weekly or the one you email monthly. Make sure that frequency is the only variable between the groups when implementing this kind of test or the results will be skewed.

Insight & Automation

Working with a Marketing Insight & Analysis partner you can also:

  • Review your current campaign plan and the results this yields.
  • Analyse the groups of people who respond well to different frequencies of email.
  • Create a plan of testing that will help you to implement effective automated email campaigns to drive optimum results.
  • Utilise consultancy facilities and available tools, such as FastStats PeopleStage, to allow a fully automated, multi-channel campaign setup with the most appropriate schedule.
  • How often do you email your database?
  • Have you carried out any frequency testing – what did you discover?
  • What other tactics have you used to determine the best frequency for your specific audience?