Email marketing is one of the strongest digital channels when it comes to building a strong relationship with customers and driving revenue. While it can be tempting to just start emailing customers, eagerly asking for the sale, it’s important to address of the most common email marketing questions, how often should I email my list? The answer, is that it depends on a number of factors. Before you go about laying out your next campaign let’s examine the key factors that will affect the frequency of your campaigns.
First Things First: Are You Adding Value?
One of the major mistakes people make with their emails strategy is offering little value while constantly asking users on their lists to make a purchase. The perfect analogy for solving this problem is to consider your campaigns as an ATM machine. You need to make more deposits than withdrawals. If you are constantly asking for your users to perform a certain action without offering them any value you are likely not seeing the results you want.
When it comes to adding value, this will look different for everyone. The ultimate goal here is to build a relationship with your list and this starts on day one. The second someone enters a welcome or post-purchase sequence you should be looking to add as much value as possible. This often come in the form of high-quality content which is why it is so critical that your email and content marketing strategy be closely tied together. At the end of the day, the more value you add the more emails you can typically get away with sending.
When you have strong workflow automations in place you will often find yourself worrying less about emailing your customers enough. Here are a few key automation sequences to consider implementing:
This is a great time to engage new subscribers and give them a feel for what they should expect now that they’ve subscribed to your list. This can trigger immediately after they subscribe and will often have a more aggressive cadence before dropping users into your ongoing nurturing sequence. Often on the shorter side it’s important not to completely overwhelm users with too much content or CTAs in one email. When you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
Often know as your newsletter, this is your chance to consistently bring your users value-packed emails. These are typically sent out on a weekly basis and are the consistent backbone of all of your campaigns. You can link out to different resources on your site such as blog content, video content, inspiration boards and more. These emails are again typically short and sweet- it’s better to keep things simple then to pack way too much info into one email.
If users have unsubscribed from your product or have yet to make a purchase in a long time (this will vary depending on your product’s lifecycle) it is time to place them into a win back sequence. This sequence should literally make them an offer they can’t refuse, whether you offer a discount or free product the goal is to get them back in the mix and opening your emails.
New Vs. Existing Subscribers
When it comes to the frequency of your emails the position of your subscriber is key. If they are new to your list this is the time when you should be sending them the most emails as they are at the peak of their interest and engagement with your brand. They are looking to learn more and it’s your job to bring the value- whether it be helpful tips, custom product suggestions, or a discount this is your time to shine. While you want to provide value, it’s key to note that it’s a fine balance as this is often the time when they are most likely to buy.
If a subscriber has been on your list for years there is a typically less of a need to email them as frequently as they are familiar with your brand and require less attention. The relationship has been built and the goal here is to nurture them and drive sales. That being said, if you have great content there is no shame in emailing your list of tried and true customers more frequently. However, if you begin to notice a drop off in open-rates it may be time to scale back and reevaluate your strategy.
Let The Data Do The Talking
At the end of the day, your overall strategy should be based around each individual list. Often your lists will tell you if you should be emailing user more or if you need to scale back. For example, a recent purchasers list will often be more likely to be engaged with your emails. Users who haven’t opened an email in months are likely in need of some TLC and a dedicated win-back campaign. Long-short there is that your current strategy isn’t working and it’s time to adapt and get testing.
On the other side of the coin, those active subscribers can help tell you if you are emailing too little. If your open and click through rates are through the roof this may be a sign that you should be emailing users more frequency and increase your cadence. As with all aspects of email marketing, it’s important to test and find your sweet spot.
The Most Common Mistake: Not Emailing Enough
Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes we see in email marketing is not emailing your list enough. While it may seem scary to email your list often you should start by testing and see where you sweet spot is. It is safe to begin testing out an email cadence of one email per week. Many users become accustomed to receiving your emails each week at the same date and time. If you find that a certain segment of your list is more engaged you can ramp up the amount of emails you are sending them and find the right cadence.
When it comes to e-commerce, if you don’t take up the space in someone’s inbox someone else will. As users are typically subscribed to many brand’s email newsletters they get used to the frequency and aren’t as put off as you may expect. One thing to note with pursuing a more aggressive email strategy is that it would be best to ramp your frequency with existing subscribes in a more gradual way than with new users.
This should all come back to whether or not you are truly adding value to users on your lists. If you are constantly spamming them with emails they find irrelevant you will likely increase your unsubscribe rate significantly. This is the last thing you want. So, when you look to create a more engaged email strategy put value at the forefront and focus on relationship building.
Sales & Promotions
When you are having a sale or running a promotion it’s important to make sure you are emailing your list often enough. A number of factors will affect this:
- How Long is the Sale?
- How Expensive is the Product?
Often the more expensive the product or service offering is, the more emails you should send. There is typically more education required and reminders needed to get users to take the next step. The reality is that a small percentage, when looking at the bigger scheme of things, will see your email, let alone open them. This is why you often receive reminder emails of deals or sales ending. Users need the extra push and sometimes need another email to catch their attention.
So, how do you make sure you aren’t completely spamming your list? You leverage the power of segmentation to separate out users who opened your email and those that did not. For those users that did not open your email you can send them the same email that they did not open but with a different, perhaps for more urgent, subject line.
Always Be Testing
Even when you feel like you have perfected your campaign it’s important to always be testing and iterating on your campaigns to see if a small change can make a big impact on the bottom line. Something as simple has increasing your open rate by 0.5% can mean the difference of thousands of dollars depending on your list. One key factor of successful testing is to ensure that you are isolating your variable and aren’t mudding the results of your test by testing three variable at once.
Here are some key elements to test:
- Subject Line – we often find that direct subject lines that don’t exceed character limit do best but you are always better off testing until you find one that generates the highest open rate.
- CTA – this could range from the message to the button color – small change can go a long way.
- Time of Day – this will vary by industry and by your specific list so it’s always good to run a few tests and see what generates the highest levels of engagement.
- Messaging- what emotional appeal are you making? We love to test fear vs. gain messaging and see what gets better results.
- Content/Visuals – the overall content of your email can make a huge impact on click through rate and revenue. Test a few formats to see what will drive the highest amount of action. It can be tempting to go with an overly designed email but sometimes all the imagery and gifs just don’t get the job done.
Moral of the story here is that it is always better to test, even when you feel like you’ve struck gold, there is always room for improvement. Many ESPs make it easy to run low-risk test as they send the test to a portion of your list to determine a winner and then send the winner to the majority of your list.
In the end, the amount in which you email your customers will depend upon how engaged they are with your content. This often comes back to how much value you are providing your customers. Bring the value, keep your messaging and asks simple, continue testing, and you’ll see your campaigns improve each week.