Email Frequency and Best Practices for Marketers

Email frequency is a very thin line between appropriate and spammy, helpful content and annoying one, converting copy, and lost subscriber forever.

Sending emails on a regular basis is one of the solutions. But what is the regular frequency in email marketing? Everyday? Once a week? Once a month?  What is the ideal email frequency that won’t come across as too much or not enough? We’ll try to answer all of these questions, describe email frequency’s best practices for email marketers in 2020 and give you useful tips and tricks to keep your campaigns as highly converting as they can get.

The impact of email marketing frequency on your campaigns

Email frequency impacts your campaign in a variety of ways. Think of it as the central pillar in your email campaigns. First of all, it influences the open rates. Afterward, it determines the click-through and unsubscribes rates. Ultimately, your conversion rates depend on it too. The numbers prove it.

Open rates

In case you don’t know, the open rate is the ratio of opened mails compared to the total amount of sent emails (all bounces excluded). Hence, if you send 120 emails, 20 of them return as soft or hard bounces, and only 10 messages are opened, your open rate will be 10 percent.

The open rate is the very first thing affected by email frequency. It’s a popular belief that the more often you send emails, the fewer value subscriber sees in them. Hence, the less they open them, and your open rate goes down. As a result of this, all the other rates go down as well. However, in reality, it’s not that straightforward. We will explain the difference in B2B and B2C email frequency practices and results further in this article.

No one can say for sure what is the best open rate – it varies from industry to industry. On average, the OR across different sectors is 20.81 percent. However, even within the same industry, the open rate differs because each prospect’s list is unique, each group of subscribers is favorable to emails at various different times, and each of them wants to see a certain number of emails every month.

Set the open rate goal at nearly 20percent and always follow your past email marketing stats to find any sudden changes.

The Click-through rate

Together with the open rate, Click-through Rate is one of the critical measures of an email campaign’s success.

On average, the highest click-through rate is revealed by the 1st and 2nd emails sent in a week (4.88 percent and 3.53 percent respectively in case of newsletters). At the same time, the more emails are sent every week, the lower the click-through rate. The 14th and 15th emails (posted in one week) show 1.92percent and 2.01percent, respectively.

Number of newsletters per week

Bear in mind, these are the stats for the newsletter’s email frequency. Personalized email campaigns delivered to small lists of highly targeted leads can, in fact, reach much higher CTR.

Aim your campaign at an average CTR of 2.5 percent. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure which frequency best suits your product and industry, analyze which rate usually shows the best conversion results to determine the ideal scenarios. You can test this using an email drip campaign tool that can monitor the click-through rates per email very quickly.

Unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate is the ratio of subscribers who click the Unsubscribe link or button in the email to the total number of people who received and opened an email.

This indicator is obviously relevant for inbound campaigns. An unsubscribe rate of around 1 percent is considered okayish within most industries and countries IF you are a beginner. But professionals stand their ground: unsubscribe rate of over 0.5 percent means that you should work on your emails and attempt to reduce the rate. The ideal unsubscribe rate is 0.2 percent.

The main reason why people unsubscribe from your list is that they are tired of receiving emails from you (69 percent of people called this reason as the primary cause for unsubscribing). If your unsubscribe rate is increasing, it means you need to slow down on your email frequency.

Try to stick closely to the ideal unsubscribe rate of 0.2 percent. Improve your email content and make an effort to reduce the email frequency if your unsubscribe rate is growing.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is the last but also the most crucial point under email frequency. This point is very closely tied to the unsubscribe rate. If you’re confident in your copy, look into the reasons why your conversion rate isn’t increasing. The highly likely unsubscribe rate is your enemy.

Email Frequency

Email Frequency Best Practices

Each business is distinct, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to fine-tune your email frequency. Yet there are a couple of things you can do to improve.

1. Let recipients know what to expect from it

Sending the ideal email with the most lucrative subject line and well-performing CTA means nothing in the long run if you send emails so often that the subscribers start sending them to the Spam folder out of sheer exasperation.

Of course, some people would like to receive promotional and/or educational emails every day. But that’s only 15 percent. Getting bombarded with dozens of emails every week is the primary reason why people unsubscribe.

You should, therefore, inform every new subscriber about the number of emails you are going to send. Better yet, allow them to opt-in for exactly the emails and frequency they want. This will not only allow you to personalize the experience but also give you valuable insights into your audience.

2. Build a relationship through consistent contact

To build relationships with existing clients, send consistently, regular emails. This helps stay in touch with subscribers who already expect emails from their most favorite brands. It can be a weekly or a monthly mail, just make sure they are regular enough for people to expect them. This way, they are always engaged and can be pushed closer to a purchase. This works for both B2C and B2B emails.

3. More is more for B2C emails frequency

Email frequency for B2C and B2B couldn’t be more different, so when analyzing the research, it’s essential to keep your eyes on the ultimate prize – the conversions.

I find Omnisend’s marketing research on this rather fascinating. They are a company offering marketing services for small and mid-size businesses (up to 5,000 users), and they’ve expertly analyzed the frequency at which their clients usually send inbound email campaigns. Here’s what their research has revealed:

Email frequency

Source: Omnisend

54 percent of their clients send emails 2 to 4 times per month, 32 percent once every month. Less than 15 percent send emails over 5 times in a month. Nothing unusual to see here, and the customers’ reaction to the email campaigns were as expected:

The highest click-through and open rates are shown by the emails sent once every month (7 percent and 28 percent respectively)

In the chart above, the next are the emails sent 2 to 4 times a month: 5 percent click-through and 21 percent open rate

The lowest click and open rates are within the campaigns sent almost daily (20+ times every month): 2 percent click-through rate and 12 percent open rate.

But here’s where it gets somewhat weird. The analysis also shows that the more emails are sent in every month, the higher the number of orders is observed:

Frequency of 10-19 emails every month (which had one of the lowest CTRs and ORs) resulted in most orders – 12.17 orders on average.

The frequency of 5 to 9 emails every month resulted in 7.44 orders on a monthly basis

Using 2 to 4 emails a month resulted in 4.79 overall orders

Only 1.64 purchases were made on average with the frequency of one email per month.

If you work in the B2C industry and aim to skyrocket your sales, don’t concentrate on the click-through or open rates – follow Omnisend’s research and try to send emails 10 to 19 times every month.

4. Automate your campaign for better control and workflow

Regardless of how many clients and subscribers you have, how thoroughly you segment them, or how many marketers you’ve got in the marketing team, you need a tool that can automate monotonous, time-consuming tasks and streamline your work.

Automation tools for email marketing are not a novel idea, but email drip campaigns are currently the best. With them you can:

  • Send campaigns with multiple emails flows depending on the subscriber’s actions
  • Add complex personalization (including custom variables)
  • Send from your own SMTP or Gmail
  • Schedule campaigns
  • Control your email performance and recipient actions at every stage of the campaign
  • Edit your launched campaigns based on real-time email marketing statistics.
  • Mastering drip campaigns can really help you nurture your leads, automate follow-ups, improve blog outreach, and free up your time that can be spent closing deals with hot leads.

5. Let your subscribers control the mail frequency

Sometimes the most straightforward solutions are the best solutions: simply ask the subscribers to select the email frequency your subscribers are most comfortable with. Giving them the right to choose will bring down your unsubscribe levels.

Make sure the email frequency is easy to select and change. Adding a link to update subscription preferences at the end of your emails is a common practice.

Email frequency preferences

And here’s a choice Medium offers to its users, besides the offers to receive regular newsletters from selected publications.

Email frequency preferences

This approach has at least 4 advantages:

Whether subscribers really mean to or not, they will still spend some time engaging with your brand or services

It shows that you respect their email preferences and care about their desires and needs

Consequently, they will become more loyal to your brand

It makes segmenting your target audience easier

6. Understanding the difference between B2B and B2C email frequency

We have already discussed B2C email frequency and the surprising results of experimenting with frequent emails. Nevertheless, things are entirely different for B2B mail frequency.

Within the B2B niche, many companies attempt to send emails twice a month. Upping that frequency to more than once a week can skyrocket the unsubscribe rate. Here, the old reliable approach of one monthly update with some relevant articles works like a charm  – this does not overload the subscriber inbox, doesn’t annoy your recipients, provides enough value to appreciate your emails, and keeps you on top-of-mind among your loyal customers.

7. Know your industry benchmarks to analyze the effectiveness of your email frequency

To find a perfect email frequency, it’s not enough to simply know your B2C and B2B email frequency standards – you’ll only be able to analyze email frequency’s effectiveness if you know the average numbers for the click-through rate and spam reporting in your niche.

Research by SendGrid found out the average click-through and spam rates for most industries:

  • Industry    CTR, percent    Spam rate, percent
  • Computers and electronics    38.4    0.019
  • Business services    13.3    0.018
  • Media and entertainment    12.7    0.012
  • Consumer services    10.5    0.016
  • Non-profit    5.7    0.011
  • Software and internet    10.1    0.013
  • Retail    14    0.015
  • Wholesale and distribution    11.2    0.013

Those are just the average numbers – you can use them as a guide.

8. Segment your audience

Using one frequency for all of your lists will never work, which is why the chief tip we believe everyone should follow is – segment all your clients and subscribers, as much as you can. The more you segment them and adapt your interactions with ample consideration to their pain points and desires, the more successful your campaign will be.

Never treat people like data units, create buyer personas entirely with photos for each segment to maximize the results. This will help you send not just the right content, but also define the ideal email frequency. Additionally, perform your own experiments to test email frequency for every segment of the subscribers.

Email frequency in plain numbers

Numbers speak louder than words, so let’s turn to the latest research and experiment results. With the help of this data, it will be easier for you to define the best email frequency for your niche.

One-third of email marketers prefer sending weekly emails

According to Databox, 33.3 percent of professionals send email campaigns weekly, 26.67 percent – multiple times per month, and 13.33 percent each – numerous times per week, daily, and monthly.

Optimal email frequency

At the same time, two-thirds of the specialists said they usually reduce the email frequency if the subscribers do not engage.

Maximum B2B and B2C mail frequencies have some similarities

As you already know, email frequency practices for B2B and B2C differ a lot. Nevertheless, when asked about the maximum number of times they contact an email on a monthly basis, answers by B2B and B2C marketers showed some similarities.

Maximum email frequency

According to DMA Insight: Marketer email tracking study, two of the three most favored answers for both B2B and B2C marketers have been the same. Both B2B and B2C marketers answered 2 to 3 times a month (37percent each) and 4-5 times a month (25percent for B2B and 30percent for B2C) as the maximum email frequency they prefer.

The general tendency is: B2C brands are more favorable to sending emails often (on average weekly or bi-weekly). At the same time, most B2B companies tend to spend a lot fewer emails (most opting for 1-3 times every month).

Nearly half the subscribers regard emails as spam because they are way too frequent

Having your mails flagged as Spam is one of the significant problems plaguing every email marketer. So why are subscribers doing it?

Why subscribers flag emails as spam

According to the TechnologyAdvice survey, almost half the subscribers – 45.8 percent – will flag emails as spam if they receive them way too often. Other reasons for sending emails to Spam are: haven’t purposefully subscribed to mails (36.4 percent), irrelevant content (31.6 percent), and lack of personal approach (10.4 percent).

Subscribers would like fewer emails and better content

Not surprisingly, the same survey by TechnologyAdvice found out that subscribers would love less frequent mails (43.9 percent), but better content (24.2 percent) and more personalized offers (23.9 percent).

Email campaigns best practices

Customers would love to receive emails at least monthly

Just because your subscribers want fewer emails doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear back from you at all. As we’ve mentioned earlier, giving your subscribers a chance to determine their own email frequency can be a great strategy. To discover precisely what the most preferred email frequency is, MarketingSherpa researched subscribers’ preferences and opinions on different email frequencies.

Customer email frequency preferences

Very few (15 percent) customers want to receive emails every day. The most popular email frequency preference turned out to be: at least monthly (86 percent), at least weekly (61 percent), and weekly (32 percent).

The least popular email frequency preferences tuned out to be: yearly (1 percent), quarterly (4 percent), thrice a week (4 percent), and never (9 percent).

Adjusting mail frequency to the ideal sending time produces better results

According to numerous email statistics and researches, the best days to send emails in a week are Tuesday and Friday, as they have shown the highest CTR and OR. Adjusting your frequency for emails to be posted on these days will maximize your open and click-through rates.

Average daily email opens

Source: HubSpot

This can be further explained by the schedule of an average worker – most will try to dig through their mails at the beginning and the end of the workweek. Make sure to schedule your emails for a specific time, too. The same research by HubSpot showed the best highest email open rate is around 11 am in the morning. Scheduling emails is easy if you are using an email drip campaign – set a sequence of emails to be sent correctly at the right time without sacrificing the personal touch.

Average email opens

Source: HubSpot

Define your ideal email frequency

Best practices, numbers, and emailing statistics are useful. Still, a solution that’s right for your business can only be established by asking yourself the right questions.

What exactly are my goals?

You need to formulate and expound your goals as clearly as you can. If your goal is to nurture leads, drive them to make a purchase, or to re-engage past customers, sharing relevant and helpful content and offers with them every once a week might be an ideal strategy. If the sales cycle within your niche is pretty long, you may need to spread emails further apart.

What is typical for my industry?

As we’ve mentioned before, knowing what’s typical for your industry can help you set realistic goals and not get carried away experimenting. If you’re only a novice in the field, analyze your competition – this will help you start off the right way.

Is the quality of my leads good?

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a B2B or B2C campaign, inbound or outbound. You must always make ensure your leads are fresh and clean. Even if your mailing list is only 6 months old, a good chunk of it will already be invalid, leading to mail bounces and serious damage to your sender reputation. In order to clean your list, use an email verifier that checks for abandoned, invalid, and non-existent emails.

Do I target it correctly?

The answer must be a resounding yes and nothing less. If you’re unsure (and even if you are sure), creating a buyer persona will help your business. It must contain the buyer’s primary pain points, their buying motivations and interests, concerns, and challenges.

Email drip campaigns

Be on time with your emails

Email frequency does not often get much credit for campaign failure or success, and it should. Sending too regularly or not too frequently can destroy all your marketing efforts, no matter how good your offer, content, or service is.

Trust in mailing frequency best practices and researches to help you keep your campaign KPIs high:

Send your B2B campaign emails at least once a month; B2C business is recommended to hit their subscribers’ inbox at least weekly.

Tuesdays and Fridays are the best days in a week to send emails, especially if your mails land at around 11 in the morning.

Segmentation can help you send relevant and useful content and offers, with personalization helping to establish lasting customer relationships.

You should also let your subscribers control the frequency and opt-outs;

Know an email frequency tip we didn’t include in the article? Comment down below and let us know!