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April 20, 2018
Marketing  |  7 min read

How Often Should You Email Your List?

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Kevin Lynch

A question frequently asked by small businesses getting their digital marketing started is, “How often should I email my customers?” Like most things in life, there’s no simple answer to this seemingly straightforward question.

If you’re expecting a definitive answer, no dice. About the best we can do is offer you is a, “It all depends on your objectives, or your product or service, or your business need.” While there is no chiseled-in-stone answer, don’t fret. Here are some tips to help you answer the question, “How often should I email my list?”

Before you get too far into the weeds of building your email campaigns, take a moment to assess how often you’re emailing your readers now. (Assuming you are.) In some instances, the cadence you’ve already established may be a decent one.

For those who have generated new lists or are taking this on for the first time, there’s a reasonably good chance your subscribers don’t know what to expect from you. This is your opportunity to set expectations that work well for you, the sender, and your recipients.

For those who have already crafted a few email marketing campaigns, you’re most likely emailing your list once a month. (This tends to be the norm for most small businesses.) If you are a member of the once-a-month club, you could slowly increase the frequency of your emails without annoying your customers. A good approach could be to send emails twice a month and then up it to weekly. If you’ve got great content, or ever-changing offers, or regular promotions, then consider sending emails two to three times a week. Be sure to monitor these campaigns. The line between being helpful and informative and annoying is a thin one.

There are some businesses that send daily emails. If you opt to go this route, it’s best to have a product or service that warrants such an active approach. Additionally, you’ll need to do a significant amount of A/B testing of subject lines, copy, images, etc. along with measuring open rates, click-through rates, etc. to ensure that you’re meeting your customer’s needs while not wasting your time and money on creating low-return emails.

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Email mindfulness

Slowly increasing the frequency of your emails requires you be mindful of your customer. This is a nice way of saying, pay attention. The No. 1 reason people unsubscribe from emails is that they get them too often from a single sender. A recipient who opts out of your emails may also be more likely to report you as a spammer, to completely disengage; some unsubscribers have been known to troll and there are some who leave withering comments and reviews. Another byproduct of over-sharing with your list is this will cause a drop in your open and click-through rates. With a little thoughtfulness, you can avoid all of this. A surefire way to avoid oversharing is to always segment your lists by specific parameters and tailor your messages to the targeted audience based on those parameters.

Follow the leaders

As it goes in all types of marketing, a sound strategy is to keep an eye on what others are doing. When it comes to the email habits of others the best, first place to look is marketing influencers, thought leaders in your business sector, even your competitors, and observe their tactics and, as best you can, determine how well they’re doing. Observe, or track, how many times influencers and thought leaders are sending emails. Is it rarely? Three times per week? Is their schedule seasonal or tied to holidays? You can bet influencers and thought leaders have done their homework and have built email schedules that perform well.

Is it working?

The real success or failure of your email campaigns is easy to determine. It’s in your data. Otherwise known as hiding in plain sight. There are those who pay agencies or third-party vendors to create their email marketing campaigns, but for those who are not, you need to be looking at the data. Stuff like your like open rates, click-through-rates, conversions, and any other data points germane to your marketing goals. Any good email tool will have these kinds of data tracking or analytics capabilities built in. The better ones will generate real-time reports and have easy to read dashboards for quick reference.

Don’t forget to review the oodles of other information points that are more intrinsic, therefore less easy to measure. Namely, your reader’s responses to your emails. Your data will show you pretty much conclusively, how often you should email your lists and how well your email marketing programs are performing. Reading and responding to your reader’s feedback is the best way to take the pulse of your messaging. If your messages, offers, and promotions are beneficial to your readers, they’ll let you know. Don’t worry, when they’re not, you will hear about it loud and clear.

Be good and be good at it

When you feel like you’ve arrived at a cadence that is good for your readers, and your business, it’s time to focus on improving the effectiveness of your emails, or, as it is often called, optimization.

This begins by listing the goals of your email program. Is it to generate new business? Raise brand awareness? Conduct flash sales that clear out excess inventory? The next step is to define success. It may be as basic as making more money, as esoteric as achieving a higher click-through rate, or as lofty as turning your brand into a globally recognized entity.

Whatever your campaign objective, keep in mind it is your audience your attempting to woo. Taking the audience-centric point of view will tacitly and/or directly indicate to your reader that you are speaking to them and have a genuine desire to help them.

Ways to show you care:

  • Shoot off a “hello” email as soon as they subscribe: Greet your newest customers and introduce them to your emails.
  • Keep your promises: When a person signs up for product updates, send them those updates. They’re expecting to hear from you. Don’t let them down.
  • Stay relevant: Deliver valuable information that the audience needs.
  • Trust is built on consistency: You’ve gone through all this effort to create a schedule, now stick to it. If you miss a mailing, don’t sweat it (overly). Stuff happens. Just don’t let one missed email deadline turn into two, then three, then four…

As stated, answering how often to contact your list is a tricky one. The safest answer is this is a case-by-case situation and one that requires the business to endure a lot of trial and error. Generally, via this hit or miss approach, businesses do arrive at a cadence that works as well. Hopefully, some of the tips in this post will help you avoid many those misses and the errors being wide of the mark can produce and speed you on your way to an email schedule that works well for you.


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