Emailing Frequency is a question that vexes many content-marketers. As with most such question in life, there’s no simple answer to this seemingly straightforward question. The answer you get would be “Depends on your niche, how engaged your newsletter subscribers are, and your own trial-and-error experiences”. The problem arises, as with most Content Marketing Challenges, when you make some wrong assumptions, and take “corrective actions” on those assumptions.
For example, when you begin to see that disengagement makes people leave your email unopened, you quickly anticipate this as a “potential unsubscribe”. You then begin to think subscriber interest is going downhill because of your emailing frequency … and that the disinterest is being exacerbated because you are emailing too often. However, experts in Email Marketing would tell you this sort of logic is fallacious. A lot of people (the majority, in fact) subscribe to get some lead magnet – and then have no further interest in the business that gave them the lead magnet. They don’t automatically anticipate building a relationship with you (which you assume they’re ready to do, just because they gave you their email). The truth is getting their email addresses is your first step. After that it’s up to you to try and build a relationship with those who subscribed. People have to be nurtured into a emails-ready relationship. It doesn’t happen automatically, when they give you an email address!
How often should you email your audience? Is it worth knowing your industry benchmarks?
There are plenty of studies that can show you what the approximate frequency of emailing is in your general industry. But watch out, these are benchmarks of how often content-marketers like sending emails … but we have no further evidence that this shows an equal frequency of eagerness in the email recipients to open their inboxes and look for those emails!
One of the more valued pieces of research on emailing frequency benchmarks comes from Sendgrid. See their findings below:
As you can see, though, while such studies are always valid, the research hasn’t been done on the list that matters most to you i.e. your own mailing list!
Some years ago, Marketing Sherpa found in their research that most customers (close to 90%) want to receive emails “at least monthly”, and just over 60% of those want emails “at least weekly”. So if you decide, for example, to email twice a month, you probably won’t go wrong. But while that’s a broad intention, you may need to adjust this frequency depending on the type of email newsletters you want to send.
People often ask if daily emails are worth it. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not. Let’s take three types of emails that people usually send daily:
Scenario #1: Daily Blog Updates: A lot of marketers may have connected their blog RSS feeds to their email autoresponders, such that updates to their blogs immediately go as email alerts to their subscribers. If they write one blog post per day, an email would go out every day. This used to make a lot of sense in the days before “web-push notifications” came into vogue. Nowadays, people seem to like blog update alerts as web-pushes rather than as emails. So unless you had more “meaty” emails, merely sending blog update alerts daily don’t seem to make as much impact as they did before.
Scenario #2: Daily Encouragement Emails: In some situations, though, people still like to get daily alert emails. For example, if you have a fitness site, and have given the subscribers a lead magnet for a progressive exercise regimen to follow, then people seem to love getting daily reminders to keep up their exercises. They see these prompts as encouraging to their fitness program. Likewise, people also seem to like getting “a thought a day” type of emails that give their mornings a “lift”.
Scenario #3: Daily Course Emails: If people have signed up for a free email course, they may like the idea of daily lessons. But you have to be careful that the course is of reasonable duration. Too long courses fail just as too short courses do. You need to think of the course as an ice-breaker burst of emails. After the course, what do you plan to do? That’s the question to ask yourself.
Some other problems of content-marketers that may masquerade as “emailing frequency” issues
There’s also one more area to be careful about. When content-marketers say they have an “emailing frequency challenge” it may not exactly be a problem about how often to send emails. The problem could be something else, but disguised as a “emailing frequency doubt”. For example, there could any of these problems:
1. You may be struggling to come up with enough content for the newsletters. If you’re short of ideas to put into your newsletters, you may get tempted to project your own doubts on your newsletter quality onto your subscribers. You may always wonder if people are finding your newsletters interesting enough to stay on in your mailing list.The solution to this problem is this: know that you need never run out of ideas if you decide to send out curated newsletters instead of always depending on your originally written content. People like the idea of knowing what is happening in the world around them, so if you make yourself useful to them by sending them regular “round up emails”, these would be welcome too.
Don’t be too quick to think your quality of emails is not making frequency viable, and all this is putting off your subscriber. Improve your quality and see if the newsletter is still not cutting ice with subscribers. Then attend to the frequency issue.
2: You may be afraid to send emails because it will trigger unsubscribes. It’s common for people to unsubscribe when they receive emails (and not in-between emails). This is because it’s when they get an email from a marketer that they even apply mind to whether they want to continue getting emails or not. At other times, the emails from the marketer won’t be top of mind, and so the need to unsubscribe won’t even enter the recipient’s mind.
Unsubscribes happen not always because your emails are not worth the readers’ time. It could be for a host of other reasons. Some people recklessly sign up for a lot of newsletters and then realise they have swamped themselves. Some times, they may have had a problem for which your business and newsletter sounded like a solution – but later their problem might have gone away and the need to keep getting your emails may not make sense.
The more common reason, though, is that many people forget they have signed up at your site and when your emails arrive, they can’t remember signing up for it! I have had an experience with someone (very irate) swearing they never signed up for my newsletter and would complain about my spamming … but when we both checked, the person had indeed signed up on my site, but with an email address they used very occasionally. Since they hardly ever checked their inbox for that email address, they never knew they had received many emails from me on that inbox, till they finally opened that mailbox one fine day – and then hit the roof! Later the person was gracious enough to admit their mistake and publish an apology … but hey, anything like this can happen!
One good idea is to allow list-leavers to tell you why they are unsubscribing, so that you don’t assume you know why they are doing so!
Give your subscribers the option on how often they want to hear from you!
If you want, you can also let your readers decide how often they want to hear from you. This should ideally be an option given to them at the time they optin and not sometime later after they are subscribers.
Some readers might be delighted to receive every blog post the day you write it. Others may only prefer a weekly summary. By giving them the choice, you can keep everyone happy.
AWeber, one of the top autoresponder and emails services companies, say they send a survey to almost every new subscriber in their welcome emails as part of their automation campaigns. They then use those survey responses from new subscribers to revamp entire campaigns, increase open and click-through rates, decrease unsubscribes and rewrite content.
They also send a survey to people who have opted in their “What to Write in Your Emails” course. The survey goes out just after people finish the course. Here’s an example below of what the survey email looks like …
Image courtesy: AWeber
Here’s what Aweber say their survey would typically contain
In the survey, we ask them what they thought of the course, how we can improve it and more. We received answers from hundreds of subscribers, which we used to totally revise the course. New subscriber emails are a great opportunity to discover your audience’s preferences, like how often and when they’d like to receive emails from you. Here are a just a few questions you might want to ask in this survey email:
- What did you think of the incentive/freebie that you received when you joined this list?
- What kind of content would you like to receive from me?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- How often would you like to receive emails from me?
- When is the best time to send you emails?
- What questions do you have for me?
- How can I help you?
Pro tip: To encourage more subscribers to complete your survey, keep the survey short. One to five minutes is a good range. Then in your email, explain that it’ll only take a few minutes to complete the survey.
The real success or failure of your email campaigns is easy to determine … see your data.
Is your email frequency working? This is easy to determine, if you care to really look into your data regularly. Rather than look at unsubscribes or unopened emails and be disheartened, see if the data supports your guesses. look dispassionately at metrics like open rates, click-through-rates, conversions, and any other data points that your autoresponder service provides. Th thing is not to see just individual metrics, look at the data as a whole and see if a consistent picture emerges over time. You don’t want to judge by just your most recent email. Look over three months data to see if there’s a consistent pattern of unopened emails, unclicked links or unsubscribes.
And don’t forget, there are many other information points that are more germane to the emailing frequency issue, that are less easy to measure. For example, your reader’s responses to your emails. Responses from readers is the best way to take the pulse of your messaging. If you want that kind of active engagement from readers that makes them write back to you, your emails must have a line that asks for feedback or asks a question that they feel attracted to answer.
Readers are followers. Readers look for your leadership. After they optin and give you their email addresses, it’s all in your hands to nurture the relationships with them and try to convert them from an apathetic reading audience in a responding, actively engaged audience.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Challenges”:
- I Have A Great Lead Magnet On My Site … Why’s No One Opting In?
- My Consumers’ Behaviour Isn’t What Experts Say … What To Believe?
- What Must I Do To Retain Customer Loyalty After The First Purchase?