By Kim Nguyen
Director of Marketing, Speakeasy Co.
Frequency and timing are among the most dominant questions our brand partners ask in relation to email marketing. Send too many emails, and you’ll end up in the Junk inbox or far worse, unsubscribed. Send too few, and there’s a potential opportunity loss of precious (& free) sales and re-engagement.
The Best Frequency, According to Data
According to SmartrMail, an email marketing platform, one in five merchants are sending between five and eight bulk email campaigns per month (excluding automated emails from transactions), or between one and two times a week, but the large majority send at least one email per month to keep their customers engaged.
Based on these frequencies, the same email marketing platform looked at the engagement of the subscribers, and found that the open rate is at its peak performance when users received 4-8 emails per month (or 1-2 emails per week)
When looking at click-through rates for the same audience, SmartrMail found that the lowest frequency group saw similar click-through rates as the highest frequency group. 4-8 emails per month also saw the highest click-through rates of any other frequency grouping, highlighting that brands need to send emails regularly in order to maintain click-throughs to the website.
Now let’s look at the most important metric for email marketing - sales. At first glance at the chart below, the conclusion you might make is that the fewer the number of emails you send, the more sales you’ll receive. However, this is a false assumption.
Your customers will have their own personal limits to spending money at your store. While we as marketers can try to encourage them to make more purchases, there is a point at which they won’t spend more for a period of time.
The question is how many emails does it take to have subscribers reach this maximum point.
The chart above actually represents the rate of sales per email and the diminishing returns of sending each additional email. Each email you send will convert some users, so each additional email WILL generate more revenue to your bottom line.
According to a study by Return Path, subscribers are cool with “up to about five emails per week… beyond that, the ensuing complaints increase dramatically, and read rates drop significantly.”
Based on all of this data, the best frequency is to send emails to your customers 1-2 times per week on a consistent basis.
Finding Your Frequency
There are four factors to consider when developing your own email marketing frequency strategy:
- How often will you have something worthwhile to email your subscribers?Always make sure that your emails provide some value to your subscribers, otherwise the engagement rates will tank regardless of how many emails you send.
- What do you sell and how big is your company?As an alcohol beverage brand, your product offering is limited compared to large scale marketplaces or fashion brands. Smaller eCommerce shops, with fewer products and fewer subscribers, rarely send daily emails. Why? It’s hard to have something of value to send every day, and as a result, their subscribers aren’t expecting to hear from them all the time.
- What is your competition doing?Subscribe to your biggest competitors’ email lists. Make observations on how often they send emails to better understand what the customers in your industry are looking for. In addition to just frequency considerations, it’s worth subscribing to your competitors to see what NOT to do in email marketing as well. Avoid their mistakes and outdo their successes.
- What expectation did you set for your subscribers?Set the expectation of how often you’ll email them upon subscribing - or better yet, allow them to select their frequency in their personalized settings.
When To Slow Down Emails
So how do you know if you’re sending TOO many emails? The easiest metric to track this is your unsubscribe rate. Your subscribers will unsubscribe if they’re not happy with your cadence.
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.
There is no magic number that will 100% work for your business, but using the data of previous brands is a great place to start. There are plenty of signals and best practices to leverage to fine-tune your email marketing strategy, so always pay attention to your key email metrics: Open rate, click-through rate, conversions, and unsubscribe rate.