Aug 20 2013

How Often Should You Be Sending Emails, Anyway?

AnnexCore

When it comes to email marketing, sometimes less is more. Flooding inboxes with message after message is a quick way to lose subscribers and get marked as spam, but if you don’t send enough, you risk being forgotten about or ignored. As a marketer you need to find that sweet spot; the perfect sending frequency. Unfortunately, because every market, business, and campaign is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, you can run a test to help you figure out your magic number and optimize your marketing campaigns.

First, figure out how well you are currently doing

You won’t have any idea if your experiment changed anything if you don’t set some sort of baseline to compare your results to. You undoubtedly know how to access performance metrics, so take a look and write down how well you’ve done so far. How many click-throughs do you get? Unsubs? Opens? After you have that data firmly down, you can actually begin the experiment. Just make sure the elements of the experiment are as close to the baseline’s as possible. Don’t try any new call to actions, or wonky subjects. Write out these experimental emails like you would any other marketing message.

Next, come up with a hypothesis

Remember when your science teacher had you come up with ‘If, then’ statements about what you were testing in class? Well, hopefully you retained that skill because you’ll need a hypothesis for a successful experiment. Since we are testing email sending frequency, frequency is going to be your ‘If…’ You just need to figure out what type of result you expect so you can define your ‘Then….’ For example, your hypothesis can be ‘If I lower the amount of emails sent from four a week to two, then my open rate will go up by 25%.’ You can test multiple hypotheses as well by changing your ‘then’ statement.

Then, identify the people on your list you want to include in the experiment

You definitely don’t want to use your entire list for this. After all, if one of your frequency changes leads to a 20% unsub, its better that the 20% come from a small list, rather than the entire set of subscribers. Make sure that the set of subscribers you do choose actually align with the purpose of the experiment. If you want to test how many click-throughs you get to a product page, you want to send emails to leads and previous customers, rather than the people who just subscribe to blog updates.

Finally, write out the emails, hit send, and record the results

When you figured out what people you want to email and how frequently, start writing your test emails. They don’t have to be anything fancy – they can even be the already scheduled marketing messages you had set up for the week. Remember, you are testing how frequency impacts your performance metrics, so only frequency should be changed. The longer your experiment, the stronger your results, so feel free to spread this out over a couple of weeks. Just make sure you send them at the usual times – again, you don’t want to add any other variables to the test. When the period of experimentation is over, check out your metrics and compare them to your base.

Conclusion

So, did things get better? Worse? Stay the same? Was your hypothesis supported, or debunked? Write everything, from hypothesis to conclusions, down so that you have a record of what you have done and what it changed. Chances are good you are going to have to repeat this experiment a few times, just with tweaked sending frequencies, so diligently kept records are a must. When everything is finally over, go back to your results and re-evaluate your wider campaign. If changing the sending frequency was helping boost your metrics, start rolling it out to a wider list of subscribers and, if things look good, incorporate those results into your marketing campaign. These experiments can be a bit of work, but if they boost your performance metrics even a tad, they are worth the effort.

When it comes to email marketing, sometimes less is more. Flooding inboxes with message after message is a quick way to lose subscribers and get marked as spam, but if you don’t send enough, you risk being forgotten about or ignored. As a marketer you need to find that sweet spot; the perfect sending frequency. Unfortunately, because every market, business, and campaign is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, you can run a test to help you figure out your magic number and optimize your marketing campaigns.

First, figure out how well you are currently doing

You won’t have any idea if your experiment changed anything if you don’t set some sort of baseline to compare your results to. You undoubtedly know how to access performance metrics, so take a look and write down how well you’ve done so far. How many click-throughs do you get? Unsubs? Opens? After you have that data firmly down, you can actually begin the experiment. Just make sure the elements of the experiment are as close to the baseline’s as possible. Don’t try any new call to actions, or wonky subjects. Write out these experimental emails like you would any other marketing message.

Next, come up with a hypothesis

Remember when your science teacher had you come up with ‘If, then’ statements about what you were testing in class? Well, hopefully you retained that skill because you’ll need a hypothesis for a successful experiment. Since we are testing email sending frequency, frequency is going to be your ‘If…’ You just need to figure out what type of result you expect so you can define your ‘Then….’ For example, your hypothesis can be ‘If I lower the amount of emails sent from four a week to two, then my open rate will go up by 25%.’ You can test multiple hypotheses as well by changing your ‘then’ statement.

Then, identify the people on your list you want to include in the experiment

You definitely don’t want to use your entire list for this. After all, if one of your frequency changes leads to a 20% unsub, its better that the 20% come from a small list, rather than the entire set of subscribers. Make sure that the set of subscribers you do choose actually align with the purpose of the experiment. If you want to test how many click-throughs you get to a product page, you want to send emails to leads and previous customers, rather than the people who just subscribe to blog updates.

Finally, write out the emails, hit send, and record the results

When you figured out what people you want to email and how frequently, start writing your test emails. They don’t have to be anything fancy – they can even be the already scheduled marketing messages you had set up for the week. Remember, you are testing how frequency impacts your performance metrics, so only frequency should be changed. The longer your experiment, the stronger your results, so feel free to spread this out over a couple of weeks. Just make sure you send them at the usual times – again, you don’t want to add any other variables to the test. When the period of experimentation is over, check out your metrics and compare them to your base.

So, did things get better? Worse? Stay the same? Was your hypothesis supported, or debunked? Write everything, from hypothesis to conclusions, down so that you have a record of what you have done and what it changed. Chances are good you are going to have to repeat this experiment a few times, just with tweaked sending frequencies, so diligently kept records are a must. When everything is finally over, go back to your results and re-evaluate your wider campaign. If changing the sending frequency was helping boost your metrics, start rolling it out to a wider list of subscribers and, if things look good, incorporate those results into your marketing campaign. These experiments can be a bit of work, but if they boost your performance metrics even a tad, they are worth the effort.

This post may contain affiliate links for which we receive commission if you visit a link and purchase something based off our recommendation. By making a purchase through an affiliate link, you won't be charged anything extra. We only recommend products and services we've thoroughly tested ourselves and trust.