Questions Answered
Email Marketing

Email Frequency – How Often Should You Send?

June 11, 2014

Questions AnsweredA reader recently asked me about how often to send to your list and since it’s not the first time I’ve been asked this, I thought it would be a great discussion here. Here’s his question:

I have a quick question for you. My company has a small {what they do} training resource. We currently have a database of about 1600 prospects. What is your recommendation for the number of email campaigns per month to each prospect. I think it should be about two per month, maybe three maximum. Others at my company thinks it’s okay to do one and even two per week. I think 4-6 times per month is excessive and runs the risk of a high opt out ratio. Thanks for your time! — Early Bird email

The #1 thing to remember here is that there is no “right” answer! All we can do is give it our best and then test, test, test. Here’s how I would go about it.

Step 1 – Do a quick communications audit

Let’s pretend to be one of those subscribers or “prospects” for a few minutes. When we’re super familiar with our business (or been at it for a long time) we can forget everything we already have out there. So grab a pen and paper or your favorite mind mapping software and let’s do a quick audit.

  1. What’s the biggest way people get on your list? (Example: from a form on your website, specifically 2 different useful articles that offer a free download)
  2. What happens when they click “Sign up”? (Example: they receive a confirmation link, that when they click on takes them to a “Thanks for signing up page” and lets them know their opt-in download will be hitting their inboxes shortly)
  3. What happens then? (Example: within the hour they receive their free download)
  4. What happens then? Do you have any auto-responders set up? (Example: 5 days later they get a quick question and a link to another resource if they haven’t already checked it out.)
  5. Do you have a weekly or monthly newsletter? (Example: it could be anywhere from 1-28 days later that they receive the monthly newsletter)

Step 2 – What are they expecting? Are you consistent?

If on your signup form you say that you send monthly, but then you’re actually sending 2x a week, that’s probably not going to go over as well with of your subscribers because you’ve already set the expectation (by telling them) that you send monthly. There are a few ways to deal with this, #1. set the expectation that they’ll hear from you weekly or monthly and then as a general rule, honor that. #2. don’t set the expectation that they’ll hear from you daily/weekly/monthly and see how it goes. #3. Give them the option to pick daily, weekly, or monthly. Tip: you can also add this to your unsubscribe area “Too many emails?….”

If you publish daily and a user is choosing to subscribe to receive a daily “digest” of what’s been published, that’s completely different than a user thinking they’re choosing to subscribe to a monthly newsletter, and then hearing a pitch from you 2x a week.

Step 3 – Where would your ideas of new emails fit in with the current “on-boarding” flow?

Remember, new subscribers are also more likely to be interested in what you have to say more frequently – but not too frequently. Think of it like dating!

For example, if your users are obsessed with {your topic} and just came across your site and signed up, they can usually withstand a  lot more communication. You could do a “welcome” series for the first few weeks introducing what you do and be helpful (yes, it needs be something they find genuinely useful!). Or straight up ask them! “How often do you want to hear from me?”

Whereas, someone who’s been on your list for a couple years, receiving a monthly newsletter, might be like “What is this?” if you start sending to them 2x a week suddenly.

Step 4 – Test, test, test!

Execute the plan you outlined in Step 3 above and track what happens. Be super mindful of what happens with your “unsubscribe” and “complaint” reports. Then, see how open rate and click through rate react.

You might find that your list can “endure/thrive” with 3x/week in the first week, or you might find that it can’t. Send and measure. Seeing too many unsubscribes or not enough opens/clicks to warrant the “annoyance” of some? Space out the sends a bit more, try changing the messaging, or ask your users!

Have a question? Email me!