How often should you send? How often is too often? Is it better to send more or less? Is there a ‘just the right amount’? With email marketing one size doesn’t fit all which makes this whole question very complex and multi-faceted. One thing we can say is that experts may not all agree on everything, however they do all agree that it is not recommended to send more frequently to every address on your list.
“We’re of the opinion that treating everybody the same with frequency is not the right approach” says Forest Bronzan, CEO of email marketing strategy-management firm Email Aptitude.
He says by increasing email frequency to those who are engaged, they make more money. And in the same token, by decreasing frequency to those who aren’t engaged, they also win that way too.
OK sounds great in theory, but how do you determine which subscribers should be in the ‘increase email frequency’ basket, and which should be in the ‘decrease email frequency’ basket? Optimising email frequency requires analysing all your email campaign reporting metrics to see where people are sitting on the spectrum.
Email Aptitude looks at opens, clicks and measures who is consistently opening, reading and clicking through their emails…. these go in group A – the engaged group. And for those subscribers who do nothing with their email they go in group B - the unengaged group. The big caveat here is that this can change so you will need to keep monitoring your reports, as one week someone could be really engaged, as your emails could be really relevant for them at that time, yet over the next couple of weeks this may change and you find them dropping into the unengaged group, so you need to adjust accordingly. One thing to note is that if you see a trend of subscribers moving into the un-engaged territory, you may need to revise your content and make sure that it’s relevant to your audience. Also, check that you aren’t just over-emailing people either. One thing you could do is send a survey out to all your subscribers and ask them to give you feedback. You need to be prepared to listen and act on that though – don’t ask them what they think unless you are prepared to make some serious changes.
Email Aptitude applied this philosophy to men’s clothing retailer Bonobos’ email strategy and was able to increase email frequency to highly engaged subscribers by two to three times. They increased the revenue for that group of highly engaged subscribers, and they decreased the frequency to the more un-engaged subscribers and that ironically had a positive impact as they suddenly started to become more engaged by becoming more interested in the emails as they arrived less often, as opposed to being overwhelmed and deleting emails. So over the course of a few weeks, those people became more engaged and thus the email frequency to those subscribers started to increase.
In the land of email marketing it’s critical to continually be testing to ensure you are constantly adjusting all aspects of your campaigns to your subscribers needs and wants. One of the best ways to find out what people want apart from analysing email metrics and data is use a preference centre. Some of my favourite email campaigns have a link at the top of every email saying ‘don’t love this? click here’ and this takes me directly to their preference centre where I can tell them that I like animals, but I’m not interested in food, I do want emails about art and homewares but not sports, and that is exactly what they deliver. In a weeks time if I decide I want to get emails about food again I simply have to click that link and tell them. And I love them for it.
Basically it all boils down to sending the right message to the right person at the right time which we have said many times before – basically that sending targeted, relevant, and timely emails wins every time.