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How frequently should you be sending out emails to customers?

By Alexandra Gavril - October 22, 2015

How often is too often? That is the question.

The amount of emails that you send to your customers can have a significant impact on your revenue and engagement rates. But it’s not as simple as sending more emails to generate more revenue.

You need to strike a balance between emailing too often and causing fatigue or coming across as spammy and staying top of mind and relevant to your customers. Then again, messaging too little can cause them to forget your altogether. So, what’s the right amount?

In this post,

How frequency impacts engagement and read rate

There is a lot of data available that reveals how people are influenced by the frequency in which companies send email messages. Following are a few studies that show how people react to changes in email frequency.

1. They unsubscribe or mark the email as spam

According to a survey by BlueHornet more than a third of consumers cite frequency as the main reason for unsubscribing from an email newsletter.

bluehornet study

What’s more interesting is that almost half (47.1%) of respondents said that they would always or sometimes opt out and receive fewer emails if they had the option rather than unsubscribe.

Another survey done by TechnologyAdvice also showed that the #1 reason people unsubscribe from emails and flag them as spam is because the sender emails too often. Respondents were also asked how marketers could improve their email efforts and, guess what, 43% of respondents said “less frequent emails”.

TechnologyAdvice study

Lesson: Today is all about sending customers targeted messages that are informative and engaging. So before you send an email, ask yourself if you’re really providing value to customers. If they’ve got nothing to gain from reading your email message, then you can be sure that you won’t benefit from it either.

2. Engagement drops

A study from MailChimp revealed that there is a negative correlation between frequency and engagement. In other words, companies that send emails more frequently tend to engage less with each campaign.

The study showed that the campaign click rate decreased as email frequency increased, as you can see in the two examples below, which come from two different companies:

mailchimp example 1

mailchimp example 2

Return Path reached the same conclusion, that sending too many emails can lead to a significant drop in open and click-through rates. The charts below are from their ebook, “Frequency Matters: The Keys to Optimizing Email Send Frequency.”

return path study

Lesson: Split your mailing list into smaller lists and test your send frequency to figure out what works best for your audience. And remember that getting more opens and clicks without actually getting more revenue doesn’t mean that your campaign is successful. You need to achieve both.

3. You boost both revenue and engagement

This is what every company is looking to achieve. And it’s what happened to UK insurance company Aviva when they switched from mailing once a year to once a month.

The results?

  • 48% more requested insurance quotes
  • 304% more unique clicks
  • 45% more email revenue

Why did that happen? Because 1) they increased the email frequency slowly and 2) they actually asked customers what kind of content they’d like to receive from the company. Aviva showed they care and then used that information to deliver the type of content that subscribers were interested in.

Lesson: If you decide to send more emails, make sure they provide value and are relevant to your subscribers.

So how often should you send your emails?

An email frequency analysis from Return Path revealed that six emails per week is the sweet spot send frequency for optimum reader response. This means that users will tolerate up to an average of six messages per week before they start to complain and end the email relationship. But is that really the optimal send frequency for all business, regardless of industry or audience?

Obviously not. You’ll need to test and run experiments on your own to determine how often you should email customers to get the best results.

Here are a few things that will help you decide the optimal send frequency for your business and audience:

Your business/ industry

Each industry has a different optimal frequency. If you’re a plumber, you’ll probably want to send an email once or twice a month. This can be new content that you’re publishing on your blog or a maybe special offer. If you’re a hairstylist, try a weekly email with blog content, videos with tips as well as discounts and special offers.

You should also perform some research into your industry peers to see how often they’re sending emails and then test it out on your customers. Simply subscribe to their email newsletter to get this information.

Test various frequency rates

Come up with a few frequency rates that you’d like to test. For example, if you usually send out two emails per month, pick three different frequency rates like one, three and four times per month to test. Send your emails and see what frequency helps you achieve the best results.

Segment your data

An effective way to ensure you’re hitting the email frequency sweet spot is by splitting your mailing list through segmentation. So split your mailing list into three or four smaller lists and then test email frequency against these lists.

Measure results

After you’ve sent your email to your mailing lists, make sure you analyse the results. Look at open rates, click-through rates and opt-outs.

This should tell you the ideal email frequency for your email newsletter. You can choose to go with this or continue to test as you go along. Use it to create and send emails to specific segments of your audience and then measure the success of your campaign so you know what works and what needs to be improved.

Wrapping up

There’s no concrete answer to how often you should be emailing your subscribers. That’s because email frequency is influenced by a range of factors, including your business, your industry and your subscribers’ behaviour. Send too often and you are likely to annoy recipients, who won’t hesitate to hit the “mark as spam” button. Send too infrequently and you risk losing touch with your subscribers.

The only way to be successful in your email efforts is to test until your arrive at the sweet spot that is unique for your business and audience.