The Email Frequency Fallacy

We talked about this in our 10 Step Primer (not signed up? Check it out!), but it deserves more than just a single mention. The Email Frequency Fallacy is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about email sending that’s out there. It’s time to clear things up. There is no generic value for sending too much or too little. There is no one ideal time or frequency to send because no two businesses or subscribers are alike.

Email frequency depends on three things: the campaign, the content and the subscriber’s desire for said content.

The Campaign: When looking at a sending schedule, consider what you are trying to achieve. You may have both long term and short term goals with email marketing. For each unique goal consider the amount of contact you need to have with the reader to be successful. Are you looking to slowly build brand recognition while proving yourself a reliable source of industry information? Are you ramping up excitement and engagement before a major event? Is this sales related, promotional, informational, motivational? Each of these will affect your sending choices.

The Content: The type of content you send profoundly affects appropriate frequency. Only you (and the reader) know what fits. One of the biggest things to look at is this: is your content time sensitive? Is there any benefit to sending more often? Do you have enough content that you can send consistently on your proposed schedule? Consider how your content contributes to the reader. Are you providing them with breaking news? Offering them assistance in their daily life? Creating unique and time-sensitive opportunities? If no, you may not need to be in contact as often as a sender who answers yes to those questions.

The Subscribers: Not sure how often your subscribers want to be contacted? Just ask them already! It’s the only surefire way to find out. You can do so at sign-up, by pointing out the ability to edit their subscriber preferences, and by sending out specific invitations to opt in (or out) of specific types of content.

The fallacy that there is any one frequency that will work for any given company is clearly demonstrated when we look at two clients that offer very similar subscription options.

Client A offers a weekly digest of their posts and a daily feed. They have about ten times more subscribers for their daily feed than they do their weekly digest. There are a couple potential reason for this: their subscribers may have found their way to the subscription via their blog, in which case a daily feed better replicates the experience of reading each new blog post as it is posted. It may also break down the content into more digestible bites for the reader. Their content is often tip-based and informational, which is more likely to be easily ingested.

Client B also offers a weekly digest of their post and a daily feed. They have about seven times fewer subscribers for their daily feed than for their weekly digest. Their content is not time sensitive, so a strong possibility is that their readers don’t feel the need to keep up as frequently. They do not keep a daily blog, so another possibility is that their readers were not already used to thinking in terms of checking in with Client B on a frequent basis. Their content is often industry-specific, which may indicate that readers are keeping up with the news in their field as opposed to reading out of purely personal interest.

To sum it all up…sending frequency can only be determined by a close examination of the content, the intended effect of that content, and the subscriber’s interest in receiving it. Creating a sending schedule on this basis can then be ratified by allowing subscribers to make their own choices about frequency. By observing subscriber behaviors you can further tailor your content to meet your goals and their interests.