Article first published March 2014, updated June 2019.
Every marketer wants to figure out the “perfect” number of email campaigns they should send: enough to get the best response, but not so much that subscribers stop paying attention.
Or worse yet, get annoyed. Our data suggests that sending a new campaign roughly every couple weeks is optimal.
Send frequency influences both opens and unsubscribes
Not surprisingly, we found that the highest open rate is always on the first send. But, we also found that the more campaigns you send, the more unique numbers of people will open your campaigns. But only to a point.
From over 2 billion emails, we found that the highest overall open rate for companies who sent over 5 campaigns in a 3 month period with under 25,000 subscribers is always after the 1st campaign. That same group had a unique open rate on their 6th campaign of 44%.
This correlates to an increase in unsubscribes and thus, results in a decrease in overall open rate as shown in the graph below.
The good news: after the 6th campaign, almost half of your subscribers have seen at least one of your campaigns and at least 13% of people have clicked.
The ideal send frequency
But, as we all know, you can’t just keep sending more and more email. There comes a point where you have to consider diminishing returns. As the unique open rate slows, so do the unique clicks. So you need to weigh your increase in unique opens against how much response you are driving. And weigh the cost of producing campaigns against the potential return of those additional campaigns.
Bottom line? Our data suggests every two weeks is the “sweet spot” for getting the most people to see your emails without burning out your subscriber list. Though of course, you should always test to see what works best for you.
In other words, you need to discover your optimum email cadence.
What is an email cadence?
Email cadence is a phrase you’ll come across as you research email marketing frequency best practices. What exactly is it?
In its simplest form, email cadence encompasses the timing and type of emails you send. In essence, if you send out different types of emails to your customers, say a mix of promotional and informational, your send frequency won’t be the same as a business that sends only one type of email.
Email cadence, therefore, is understanding all the factors involved in mastering email marketing frequency to receive the best results.
How to figure out your subscribers’ preferences
So how do you discover the sweet spot when it comes to sending frequency? Since your business and audience are unique to you, you can’t copy what works for others. However, here are a few tips to master email cadence.
Understand your audience.
Email marketing is all about serving your audience. Understanding your audience’s needs will help you determine the frequency with which you send your emails.
For instance, if your audience comprises of B2B executives, sending them an email a day would be irritating. These individual’s inboxes are always cluttered, and time is a commodity they don’t have much of. On the other hand, if your audience is made up of stock market investors, you’ll send emails more often by virtue of the fluidity of the finance sector.
Your audience (and industry) are the best place to start finding out how often you should be emailing your customers.
Study your customer journey.
Your customer journey plays a major role in determining email cadence. Understanding the various touch points along your customer’s journey will help you better anticipate when to send the right content and at the right time.
By timing your email send cadence according to your customer’s needs, you guide them along the buying journey without overwhelming them. This will lead to higher open and click-through rates.
Set up an email preference center.
An email preference center, as the name suggests, is a way to give subscribers control of the type of emails they want to receive from you. This is one of the best email cadence tips that’ll help you not only get higher open rates, but reduce unsubscribes as well.
Source: Campaign Monitor
Make sure to always include a link to your preference center in every email so that your customer can change their preferences at any time.
Survey emails are a great way of getting customer feedback, even about email sending frequency. Who else to better advise you on how often to send out emails than your customers?
Once your survey results are in, you can use them to segment your list according to the frequency with which they want to receive your emails.
If you want to know more about the kind of open rates and engagement you should aim for, check out our email marketing benchmarks for industry-specific numbers culled from millions of email marketing campaigns.
Now you’ve seen our data, we’d like to hear from you. Have you experimented with email cadence? What have you found your “sweet spot” to be? We’d love to hear your experiences and observations in the comments below.
If you’d like more information on how to keep your customers satisfied with your email cadence, check out our data-backed article on how often you should send out promotional emails.