Email marketing frequency: How much is too much?

Posted under Email
email marketing frequencyIt is a well known fact of commercial life that the more regular communication you have with your customers and potential customers, the more business you will generate.

Regular communication is all about building closer relationships with your contact database – and if you are building closer relationships, the chances of you winning more business clearly increase.

Communication clearly comes in many forms: telephone, email, e-shots, newsletters, face to face, direct mail and other forms of media engagement.

Regular communication provides the opportunity to demonstrate you have positive things to say; are established and keen to share knowledge; are interested in feedback; are keen to engage and want to keep in touch.

We all receive copious numbers of emails from all and sundry, trying to sell their services – but there will be some we find ourselves reading.  And they will be the ones where the sender is providing ‘added value’; offering useful tips, advice or guidance from which we can learn. Or in the case of e-commerce, interesting offers, new launches and suggestions based on previous behaviour. Above all they must be relevant.

So if we accept that premise – we need to be ensuring that we adopt the same approach to our target contacts.  Focus on the quality of your content and the relevance of your communication.

But how often should we be engaging via email?

Response metrics

increase-ctrAsk half a dozen marketers that question and you will probably get a different answer from each of them.  The bottom line is that there is no hard and fast answer.  The issue is much more about how much value can you provide and what is the engagement from your email activity?

That means looking at open rates; click throughs to your website; direct feedback and sales conversions. You will soon get a very clear sense of what works and what doesn’t.  If open rates fall dramatically, the chances are either the subject matter or the regularity of your communication have missed the target.  When people start unsubscribing you just know that you are off-beam.

If your campaigns show that increasing email marketing frequency would provide a greater value to recipients, have a read of this blog post from MailChimp first.

Contact relationships

peopleLooking at your contact database, there will be new prospects; existing clients; new clients and possibly old clients.  Each of them may require different messages and different frequencies of contact.  Broker this into your thinking.

New contacts may want more regular information from you than long established clients or customers – but the common theme is to ensure that the material you are sending is ‘news they can use.’  If it isn’t – don’t send it.  Nobody wants to read things that fail to inform them.

Planning

planning email frequencyPlan campaigns and be diligent in sticking to them.  Nothing is more annoying than ‘intermittent’ communication.  It is impotent to you and to the receiver.  Regular, planned content will be much more effective.  So think ahead and earmark the messages/information you want to impart and stick to the schedules.

Personally, I think the regularity of communication, whilst being important is irrelevant without quality content.  One e-shot or email a month can be just as effective as one a week providing the content adds real value to the recipient.  The chances are they will then be waiting for your next missive – and before long you will be exploring additional e-shots to meet their appetite for useful information.

To conclude – measurement is the best way to determine whether you are hitting the frequency/content target. 

Always split test key variables such as subject lines and review your open rates, click through rates and response levels.  If they are not good enough – tweak either the frequency or content.  Try testing with different database groups – sending two a month to one group and one a month to the other.  See which generates the most buy in.  You can do the same with different content to help you more easily understand what works best for your business.

Peter Corder

A former journalist, Peter founded Media Matters back in 1994, having worked for a number of newspaper publishing groups across East Anglia and the East Midlands in senior editorial roles.

He began the business from converted outbuildings next to his home near Stamford before moving to offices in Lynch Wood back in 2007 to cope with increasing client workloads.

Peter has now stepped back from the coal-face of the business but still provides support to the Media Matters’ team and to some clients.