How Often Should You Send?

A question frequently asked when it comes to email marketing. Here's a few things to consider from resource allocation to relevance.

The easiest way to approach this is that you should only talk to the individuals in your audience when you have something to say. For example, an email communication containing news on a specific football team, being sent to a list of fans of that team, could realistically be sent every day, whereas general interest news is better sent monthly to maintain interest.

There’s no quick answer to the frequency question. It really depends on the goal of your email, the type of content that you send and the dynamics of your audience, but here is our rough guide on how to determine the right email frequency for your organisation.

As a starting point mail at least once a month/quarter but here are some other considerations.

Never more than once within 72 hours

With regard to a general newsletter or promotional piece, you should abide by this rule or run the risk of being perceived as ‘Spam’, which will lead to low response rates and unsubscribes. The exception to this would be communications that are event triggered or based on breaking news (Google Alerts for example).

Let content be your guide

Look at what you provide readers and you'll get a feel for proper frequency. Analyse how often the information changes and how quickly readers must receive it to act on it.

Frequency Segmentation

It is likely that each individual recipient’s perception of how often is too often will be different, so why not offer new signups the opportunity to express a preference on frequency of send at the time of opt-in? This will save time on segmentation and ensure that your customers get exactly what they want. It may also be possible over time to segment your data based on response levels varying by sending frequency. It is entirely feasible to have a group of contacts who respond better to weekly emails than monthly and vice versa.

Work within your resources

The sending of a daily email naturally requires a great deal more effort than a monthly communication, so it is important to gear your frequency to the resources that you have available. It is much better to send a well crafted monthly communication than a poorly constructed daily one.

Watch for trends

Declining open and click through rates are a classic sign of list fatigue which can be a direct result of sending too frequently. If you start to see changes in your campaign results, react to them accordingly, cutting down frequency if response is declining but equally trialling more regular sends if response rates are consistently good. Be wary however of making frequency decisions based on the Unsubscribe rate as there is now a propensity among many people to simply delete unwanted email rather than opt out. These contacts could be described as having ‘emotionally unsubscribed’.

Use your metrics

Frequency should not be as simple as “we don’t mail our customers more than twice a month”. As with any part of your marketing mix email campaigns should be adapted based on the response to each program. Email provides marketers with more feedback data than almost any other medium, so use this data to evaluate and establish your sending frequency. You should always be looking to create and send additional emails to those recipients who have shown an interest in your product and service, so don’t believe that email marketing should be all about scheduling a quarterly or even annual plan and then sticking to it religiously. Always seek to exploit every opportunity that your email campaign results present to you.

Rules should be there to guide, not restrict

The key to establishing the right email frequency with your customers, as in every aspect of marketing, is to plan, test, adapt, analyse and refine. Each marketer will find that different rules apply for their customers. Establish guidelines for your business, but always be flexible as customers’ desires and preferences are quick to change.