Retail marketers have to balance the need to promote the brand and products with the desire to avoid turning off subscribers.

Trying to decide on the right number of emails to send to your customers each month can be difficult. Marketers across all industries have to balance the need to promote the brand and products with the desire to avoid turning off subscribers. After all, companies sending too many emails is one of the top reasons consumers unsubscribe from brands’ email lists.

How often should you send emails?

Unfortunately, there is no magic number. If there was, everyone would be doing it. On the other hand, there are some surveys out there that can give you a pretty good idea about what subscribers expect from a business.

As a general rule, most subscribers expect to receive promotional emails at least once a month, with many even suggesting they are happy to get them on a weekly basis. There are variations by industry, as well. Retailers typically send emails at least once a week, while specialized, high-end companies may only send emails out monthly as their products tend not to be everyday items.

It is about finding the sweet spot for your business and that comes down to a number of factors, not just frequency.

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Look at your competitors

As we briefly touched on earlier, different industries go by different standards. So, it’s worth looking at your competitors and seeing what makes their email campaigns successful—or what they’re doing wrong.

This does not mean you should simply copy their methods or frequency. After all, there are a number of factors at play that influence every brand’s decisions, including the brand itself, the content of the emails and the size of its subscriber list. You also need to consider whether the brand is sending those emails to everybody or to smaller, segmented lists, as well as whether the brand’s email program is likely garnering the results you’re looking for from your company.

That’s why you should learn from the competition and go with what is right for your brand.

Timing

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Do your research and see when is the optimum time to send your emails. Studies by Hubspot suggest that Tuesday tends to be the best day to send emails, with weekends being the lowest performing times. In terms of time, 11 a.m. has proven to be the most efficient time for open rates and click-throughs, with the two-hour window between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. being particularly strong.

However, if you can’t send emails on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. for whatever reason, it is not the end of the world because weekday rates are broadly similar.

Segment your list

This is a smart way of avoiding sending too many emails to one group of subscribers. Segmenting your list is easy with most email marketing platforms and it comes with a number of advantages. It allows you to personalize your emails, control the frequency and gives you the ability to test. Segmentation can boost your email conversion rates by up to 208%.

You can segment lists in any number of ways including by interest, gender, age, location and by how engaged they are. For example, if you have a group of people who are clicking on most of your emails, you can keep them on the current email program as they are clearly engaged while you may consider switching subscribers who do not often click through into a less frequent email program.

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Ask your customers

It pays to ask your customers how many times they would like to receive their emails. Once you know your customers’ preferences, you can use that information to your full advantage.

You can control the frequency of emails your subscribers receive by asking them what emails they would be interested in. This Old House, a home improvement retailer does this really well:

This not only gives the subscriber’s control over frequency, it also ensures they get the emails they specifically chose, leading to higher open rates, CTR and improved conversion, boosting the ROI of the email campaign.

Consistency is key

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Sometimes it is not about how many emails you send, but more about the consistency. People become accustomed to things quickly so if you establish a routine of sending one email a week at 11 a.m. on Thursday—keep it up. If you send an email on Thursday one week and Friday the next, the subscriber won’t know when to expect your email.

Keeping it to approximately the same time on the same day (or days) of the week, subscribers will know when to keep an eye out for an email from your brand and be more inclined to open it.

Embrace email automation

Most email services offer the ability to automate email campaigns. Automation enables you to organize and keep track of how frequently you are sending emails to your customers. There are a number of features that can help you decide how many emails to send (and to whom) through split-testing techniques. Even artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way to email marketing, paving the way for smarter campaigns.

A well-organized email automation program will respond to trigger points such as a welcome email for new subscribers or a thank you to customers who have made a purchase on your site. Again, here it is not about numbers but about making it personalized and keeping emails relevant to the customer.

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Summary

It’s not about how many is too many, or enough, but rather about what you do with the information at your disposal. Think about the content and who your target customers are when considering the frequency of emails. Some on your subscriber list may be highly engaged by daily emails, while others may tend to ignore them.

Be responsive and flexible. Break down your list into groups, and tailor the email program to those groups. Make the content appropriate and make it personal.

As we said at the beginning, there’s no magic number—it’s sadly not that simple.

But it’s not that complicated either.

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Karl Kangur is marketing director at MageMail. He specializes in content and email marketing, advocating the latest ideas and techniques through blog posts, talks and media appearances.

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