Many marketeers consider email marketing to be one of the strongest tools they have to both keep customers informed and ensure they remain in the forefront of their mind when it comes time to make a purchase. Some even believe that email marketing has the best return on investment (ROI) of any marketing medium.

But are HTML emails really an essential slice of your overall marketing strategy?

As with any aspect of your marketing toolbox, the answer to this question is dependent on a number of factors.

One of the biggest factors is the question of email campaign frequency. Just how often should you sent out your emails? Every day? Monthly? Quarterly?

We know from various email marketing research that sending out emails too often leads readers to unsubscribe. In fact, the ‘View from the Inbox’ study shows that 73% of users who unsubscribe from an email list report “too many emails” as their reason for unsubscribing.

This is a tough finding for some email marketers and business owners to swallow, because it’s very tempting to think, “If I send out more emails, I’ll get more click throughs, and more sales!”

Alas this is not necessarily the case and in fact sending out more emails can actually lower every email marketing metric you care about.

So how often should you send out your email campaign?

First of all, it’s worth being clear that there isn’t necessarily one answer that fits all. There are some models that work quite successfully sending out multiple e-blasts per day — though that’s clearly the exception. In the perfect world you would do random sampling and testing within your email campaigns; however, you need several thousand subscribers at a minimum before you can obtain statistically significant data that way.
So instead we’re going to look at some overall rules of thumb, based on research conducted by many email marketing companies, that should be applicable to most businesses. If your email marketing campaign falls within these ranges, you should be safely outside of any danger zones.

Send e-blasts a minimum of once per month: anything less than once per month is no longer a regular email update. The emails start to get so far apart that you’re losing most of the big advantages of email marketing — you’re no longer keeping your company in the forefront of your customers’ minds. Certainly if you have some kind of truly important news you could send out a mass email about it, but it’s not really a newsletter at that point. It’s just a random email sent out to customers. The once per month point, however, can be very effective. It’s just inside the timeline so that your customers will remember you, and when it comes time to make a purchase decision, you’ll be in their head.

Send emails a maximum of once per week: moving down from monthly, the weekly emails is another very effective frequency for many companies. While some companies can have very effective daily email campaigns, that frequency is definitely in the minority, and many people will simply unsubscribe or even report the emails as spam. Click-throughs and open rates both drop dramatically once you get more frequent than weekly. Some larger companies have made their email campaign frequency research public, and showed that even dropping from twice per week down to once per week lowered unsubscribes by over 50% with more than an 80% increase in opens — and most importantly, higher sales as a result of the once per week frequency. Finally, any time we’re talking about the email campaign frequency, it’s worth mentioning that the most important factor is the quality of the content of your emails. The best way to lower unsubscribes and increase click throughs is to increase the value and quality of the content of your email campaign. Don’t try to come up with “filler” content just to justify a more frequent email schedule.

If you’re considering an email campaign more frequently than once per week, you have to ask yourself whether the information is really that time sensitive? Can it really not get saved up and combined into a weekly or even monthly email? Is the customer really going to miss out if they don’t know now (and if so, could you have told them earlier)? Be sure that your email campaign is providing useful information to your customers — not just information that they may not know, but information that they care about. Then make sure that information is presented in an attractive, understandable way and that it includes calls to action that allow you to measure the results.

So why not give it a go and see what can happen with email marketing?

Quick Stats – Some Examples… How do your stats measure up?

Good Example

Type: Past Customers Offer

Open Rate: 39.51%
Conversion: 28.52%

Analysis: Good stats as client engaged with the customers at the right time (seasonal) with the right offer.

Bad Example

Type: New Business Target

Open Rate: 16.71%
Conversion: 12.435%

Analysis: Email sent 2 days before school holidays. We recommend at least a week prior to get a greater open rate.

Example with a lesson

Type: Informational

Open Rate 43.31
Conversion: 4.8%

Analysis: Conversion rate not great as the body of the email itself included the message with no action required. Conversion here are direct visits to the website. This showcases that even without an action there is still opportunity.