Guidelines – and Exceptions – to Email Frequency Best Practices



One of the purposes of this blog is to share email marketing tips with you, but we want to emphasize that every email marketer, business, and customer base is different, so best practices should act as guidelines only when designing your campaigns. This applies doubly to the question of email frequency.

If you do a quick search, you’ll probably end up with a pile of contradictions, so we’ve boiled down what most e-marketing bloggers, analysts and ESPs are recommending, with the ever-present exceptions!

•  Send at least 2 emails per month to each subscriber. (What if an exclusive user segment only needs quarterly updates and triggered offerings?).

•   Never send more than once every 72 hours. (Sure, but what if there’s breaking news, or a huge number of click-through leads?!)

•   Distribute newsletters at least once every quarter. (We think this one’s TOO lenient; monthly is safer if you want to avoid SPAM folders and unsubscribes because they don’t remember you.

You get the gist! The key to getting your frequency right for your subscribers should be based on:

•   Subscriber Preferences: Did you offer frequency options when they signed up? If not, try adding it to your online forms to save research time later. Or perhaps they responded to a survey on preferred frequency of emails from your business?

•  Subscriber Segments: If they did indicate a preference, you clearly have a “frequency segment”. But more importantly, if a group or segment responds more often on a particular schedule, then toggle campaign frequency to take advantage of that metric. After all, your subscribers are “telling you” by their actions that it’s going to be worth the extra effort.

•   Opportunistic Frequency: We don’t recommend resending a campaign right away to fix something, however…all bets are off when you have low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked! For example, you might have important late-breaking news or another special offer that’s extremely relevant to your recent campaign (and could improve your results).

So Opportunistic Frequency is the exception to almost ALL the rules, if done correctly. For example, let’s say after taking into consideration all the guidelines discussed above, you make an informed decision to send out a “new” campaign to a group of hot leads shortly after your initial campaign. Now we’re not talking about follow-up messages, but an additional and more targeted offer. Why? Because a ton of them clicked on the link you provided, but you lost most of them on the splash page! Use the results of your Email Analytics to come up with something fresh to grab attention, then give them what they asked for the first time – only MORE and BETTER! In fact, this group might be a better “candidate” for a drip campaign than your original group!

The point is to be flexible enough to change direction and sometimes break the rules – especially if the stats show you have an interested segment waiting to hear more about your product or service. So how do you determine frequency? Surveys? Sign up forms? Whatever time allows? Tell us how and why!

  • Great content and recommendations! Anyone using e-mail marketing understands the value of treating your clients and potential clients right. I cannot begin to tell you how many SPAM-type e-mails I receive on a daily basis from people who should just know better.

    Rick Samara