What’s the best email frequency? Once a day? Once a week? Once a month?
When thinking about talking to your target audience, most of the time you are more focused on the email copy and less on when and how often to send emails.
“An email can make or break a potential opportunity for you, so send marketing emails wisely.” – Leila Lewis
Send too many emails and you turn into an annoying spammer alienating your audience and harming your engagement and conversion rates. Send too few and you risk being forgotten and missing out on the revenue potential your email list can bring. Finding the email frequency ‘sweet spot’ can feel impossible. Fortunately, there is a strategic approach to this dilemma.
This article covers the following topics about email frequency:
- The impact of email frequency
- How many emails are too many?
- How to find YOUR perfect email frequency?
- Email frequency best practice
- Email frequency stats
Ready to dive in?
Your target audiences’ inbox is overflowing with a gazillion marketing emails daily. It’s becoming harder and harder to catch the consumers’ attention. Many won’t give your email a second glance.
If you want to avoid being labelled as a spammer and lose your hard-earned subscribers and customers don’t rely solely on what you send. Focus on when and how often you send emails.
Email Frequency Impact
Have you ever Googled ‘email frequency’ or ‘best time to send emails’ or ‘how often to send marketing emails’?
If you have then you’ve noticed the contradictory opinions numerous studies provide on the matter. The reason: different studies focus on different variables like B2B or B2C email blasts, buyer behaviour, location, interests, your goals, etc.
Email frequency is the fine line between being helpful and annoying, timely and spammy, conversions and unsubscribe rates. It can impact your email marketing KPIs in infinite ways. First, it affects your open rates. Then, it influences your click-through and unsubscribe rates. And ultimately, your conversion rate.
The open rate is the first metric affected by your email frequency. According to popular belief, the more emails you send, the less value people see in your campaigns. Therefore, the less inclined they’ll be to open and, subsequently, your open rate slumps. As a result, all other email metrics decline as well. But, in reality, things are not that straightforward.
No one can surely state what’s the best open rate. It differs from industry to industry. However, across the board, the open rate for email campaigns is around 25%. So, if you manage to surpass this number, you’re already doing something right.
Your click-through rate (CTR) is the second key metric to measuring your email campaigns’ success. It measures the number of people who clicked on one or more links in a given email.
As with your open rate, the CTR can be affected by various things especially your email frequency. Some brands may witness a 20-30% CTR (mainly for welcome emails and campaigns calling for specific actions like downloading an ebook) but the average CTR is around 4%.
If you’re uncertain about the email frequency that best suits your recipients, analyse your past email campaigns’ results (i.e. open, CTR and conversion rates) to determine an ideal scenario to give them what they need, ultimately leading to what you want.
You can learn a lot from your unsubscribe rate seeing that it shows the percentage of people who opted-out from getting your future email campaigns.
The 6 most common reasons why people unsubscribe from emails are –
- too many emails (poor email frequency)
- emails look like spam
- irrelevant content
- too much or too little content
- emails not tailored to the subscribers’ preferences
- tired of receiving a brand’s emails
According to stats, almost 70% of people unsubscribe from email lists solely because they are tired of receiving a brand’s emails. Thus, if you are seeing an increase in unsubscribe rate, you need to adjust your email frequency accordingly.
Pro tip: Depending on your email frequency, your unsubscribe rate will fluctuate. A healthy unsubscribe rate is around 0.2%. Anything above this should start ringing alarm bells.
Your conversion rate (the number of people who acted on your email) is the most important email marketing metric affected by your email frequency and vital for determining your ROI.
When it comes to determining what is a good conversion rate, these four factors all play an essential role –
- your email campaign’s goal,
- your industry sector,
- the actions completed, and
- your email frequency.
Pro tip: The best approach to successfully measure conversion rate is to integrate your email marketing software and your web analytics (i.e. Google Analytics) and to create a unique tracking URL for each link (or CTA) in every single email campaign you send.
How Many Emails Are Too Many?
Wondering how many emails count as too many? According to my extensive research, it seems between one and two weekly emails is the perfect sweet spot averaged against the majority of industry sectors. However, this may or may not apply as you’re not average, are you?
Ultimately, your optimal email frequency depends on your goals, your target audience and your initial promise. While you can potentially get away with sending an extra weekly email, trying to push out too many will get you in the dreaded spammer territory.
Finding YOUR Email Frequency
Determining the perfect email frequency for you may as well seem like a Herculean task considering how many variables play a role in the equation. But, by taking into account these four factors you will have no trouble coming up with the ideal email sending scenario.
- How Often Do You Have Something Worthwhile To Send?
- What Are You Selling? How Big Is Your Business?
- What Is The Competition Doing?
- What Are Your Expectations? Did You Set Any?
How Often Do You Have Something Worthwhile To Send?
Your email frequency should be contingent on your content quality.
You want every single sent email campaign to provide value to your target audience. Whether it is in the form of a discount, a product announcement, an annual sale or in the form of interesting content, there must be some obvious value to your email.
Why? When you illustrate clear value and each email has a reason to exist, you are keeping your audience happy, engaged, subscribed and, of course, buying. Therefore, the first and arguably biggest factor you need to consider isn’t only how often you should send emails but also how often you can send interesting ones.
What Are You Selling? How Big Is Your Business?
Without even realising it, subscribers and customers have built-in expectations for a brand’s email frequency based on its industry and the company’s size.
Frequent Senders (daily emails)
- Websites offering flash sales and big discounts. Since deals, sales and special offers move fast, subscribers sign up for such emails expecting a high email frequency.
- Huge retailers and websites with a large product/service range. Most national and international businesses send daily emails offering tons of sales and rolling out lots of new products/services. They have massive email lists which subsequently allows them to weather the potential fallout of over-sending.
- Personality-driven brands. When you opt-in for a thought leader or an email marketing guru’s email list, you choose to engage with that person. Daily emails are most personality-driven brands preferred way of building a relationship with their subscriber base.
Infrequent Senders (a few marketing emails per week/month)
- Small retailers. Mom and pop shops with fewer products than big chains and fewer subscribers rarely send daily emails. Why? It’s tricky to have something of value to send every single day. Subscribers don’t expect to hear from such businesses all the time.
- Premium and luxury brands. Your entire brand is built around exclusivity. Do you think sending tons of daily emails about sales and offers is a winning strategy? The key to nailing this particular email frequency is to send enough emails so that your target audience does not forget about you.
- B2B companies. The B2B email-verse is a whole new extra level of professionalism. This means your email frequency shouldn’t clog your audiences’ inbox.
What Is The Competition Doing?
Have you subscribed to your competitor’s email list? No? Well… what are you waiting for?
The best possible way to determine your email frequency sweet spot is to be informed by what the competition is doing, use it as a starting point and then fine-tune based on the unique requirements and behaviour of your particular facet of that sector.
By doing so you’ll not only gain a better understanding of what customers in your industry are looking for but also a valuable perspective on what ‘the enemy’ is doing right and wrong with their email marketing and do it better than them.
What Are Your Expectations? Did You Set Any?
The best way to avoid annoying your audience because of poor email frequency is to make sure they know upfront what and how often to expect your brand’s emails.
For example, if you tell them to expect daily emails then they will expect daily emails. On the other hand, if you tell them to expect occasional emails and bombard them with a dozen campaigns in a day, they’ll be put off and potentially unsubscribe.
No matter the email frequency, the most important thing to remember is that you need to stick to your word. If you’ve said daily emails, send daily. If it’s weekly, weekly and so forth.
Email Frequency Best Practice
Each brand is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fine-tuning your email frequency. But, there are a few best practice you can and should take advantage of.
When & How Often: Tell Your Recipients What To Expect
The fact you just sent the most amazing email with the perfect subject line and a well-performing call-to-action means nothing if you send so often that your target audience starts placing your emails in the Spam/Junk folder out of sheer annoyance.
Of course, some people enjoy being bombarded with tons of promotional or educational emails. But I don’t imagine the percentage is very high. After all, and I know I already said this but it bears repeating, being blasted with a bazillion emails a week is the main reason why people unsubscribe from email lists.
To prevent such a disastrous fate make sure you inform (upfront) every person interested in subscribing to your email list about the expected email frequency. Even better, why not allow them to opt-in for the frequency they want?
Consistency = Success
To build strong, long-lasting relationships with your target audience, you need to be consistent with your email frequency.
Once you’ve established the perfect frequency for you, make sure you stick to it. If your audience gets accustomed to seeing your emails in their inbox on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. with a cup of coffee or on Friday at 7 p.m. with a glass of wine, you don’t want to disappoint them.
Segment Your Email List
You wouldn’t keep talking to some who isn’t listening, would you? So then, why would you keep emailing someone who isn’t interested?
Using one email frequency for your entire audience will rarely work. Thus, the perfect way to ensure the right people will get the right message at the right time is to segment your email list.
The more you segment by taking into account your target audience’s pain points, interests, desires and, of course, preferences, the better results you’ll witness. Furthermore, segmented emails lead to an increase in open and conversion rates with a decrease in unsubscribe and complaint rates.
Simply put, use different email frequency for different segments.
Automation For Better Workflow
Despite the number of subscribers/customers you have, how fully and carefully you’ve segmented your email list or how many people you have on your email marketing team, you need a tool that will help you automate your email campaigns for better control and workflow.
Wondering how email marketing automation can help you? By developing (if you haven’t already) an effective email automation strategy and choosing the right email automation tool, you will be able to –
- save time,
- reduce costs,
- nurture your audience,
- attract new subscribers/customers,
- ensure customer retention,
- increase brand awareness,
- improve conversions,
- boost ROI,
- reduce the potential for mistakes, and
- increase productivity.
Email automation works 24/7/365, rarely requires a human touch as it’s entirely automated. All you need to do is set up the email series once, define the parameters (triggers) and, if necessary, make small tweaks to improve the performance. Email drip campaigns, for instance, are a perfect example of pre-created automated email series.
Put The Subscriber In The Driver’s Seat
Most of the time the best solution is the simplest one.
When it comes to determining your email frequency, one of the best approaches is to let your target audience have control over how often they want to receive emails – i.e. set up an email preference centre.
By giving people choice, you will –
- reduce unsubscribe and complaint rates,
- improve trust in your brand,
- show you respect their preferences,
- show you care about their needs, desires, interests, etc., and
- make segmentation a lot easier.
Pro tip: Make sure to always add a link to your email preference centre at the bottom of every email (the footer) so that your target audience can change their preferences at any time.
Email Marketing KPIs: Test & Monitor
Your audience, your products/services and your goals are unique. A certain email campaign and email frequency may highly resonate with some of your recipients BUT less so with your entire audience. Hence, you should always, always A/B test (a.k.a. split test) your email campaigns.
For example, you can segment your email lists based on subscribers’ activity (or any other variable) and test an experimental email frequency on 30% of the people from each segment. The email frequency that brings in the best open, conversion and engagement rates (you’ll know which one by monitoring your email metrics) should be the one you finally adopt.
Pro tip: Gradually roll out the new email frequency to lower the risk of an increase in unsubscribe and complaint rates.
Email Frequency Stats
When dealing with email frequency, it’s quite important to keep certain stats in mind.
- almost 70% of people unsubscribe because they get too many emails
- over 60% of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly
- nearly 30% of people who stopped using their email address did it because they signed up for too many marketing emails
- the best results from your email blast happen within the first hour after delivery
- top engagement times are between 8-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. with up to 7% average increase in open and click-through rates
- the most optimal time to send emails is Thursday between 8-9 a.m.
- the worst time for an email blast is Tuesday and Wednesday between 8-10 a.m.
- Saturdays have the highest conversion rate for both B2B and B2C email blasts
- Fridays have the highest open rate compared to any other weekday (incl. the weekend)
Be advised that these stats are a starting point offering you the advantage of saving time figuring out the best time/day for your email blast. Using them as a starting point saves you time but do not rely on them solely over a/b testing, experimentation and reporting evidence of your content to your audience.
How often do you have fresh, relevant, interesting and engaging content to share? How big is your company? What are you selling? What is your competition doing? Which Industry sector are you in? Did you set any email frequency expectations? How many emails are too many?
So many questions when it comes to establishing the email frequency that will suit your target audience and your business goals.
In email marketing, the best path to success is always listening to your audiences’ needs, preferences, interests and desires – do the best you can to meet their expectations.
To find your perfect email frequency sweet spot, remember EmailOut’s five golden rules –
- Let your target audience control the email frequency.
- Create fresh, relevant and engaging content that delivers value.
- Always ask for feedback to continuously improve the quality of your emails.
- Segment your email lists so the right people can get the right message at the right time.
- Test, monitor, adjust and test again.