Four considerations to help you find the right balance in frequency for your email marketing campaigns

 

As the old adage goes, sometimes less is more. But when is less really more? And, alternatively, how much is too much?

These are questions we ask everyday about countless different aspects of our lives, but in the B2B marketing world they tend to arise fairly often around the topic of emails.

Are You Guilty of Inbox-Crowding?

When it comes to email marketing, there is most certainly such a thing as sending too many emails, but it’s difficult to determine where to draw the line. It’s not just that there’s no hard and fast rule for every business, it’s that the magic number might even be different for each and every campaign you run. The answer to “how much is too much” depends on everything from who your target audience is and what type of email you’re sending to your relationship with recipients and their demonstrated preferences.

Despite the fact that determining where to draw the line isn’t always easy, it is necessary, since sending too many emails can lead to people ignoring your emails or, worse yet, unsubscribing completely.

Are You Email Gun-Shy?

On the flip side, you also don’t want to be gun-shy and send too few emails, as doing so can make it difficult to achieve the desired results.

Additionally, in cases where people specifically opt-in to receive emails from your business, sending too few might lead them to forget what they hoped to learn from doing so in the first place.

Finding a Balance: Top Considerations for Email Frequency

If sending too many emails can wreak havoc on your efforts and sending too few emails isn’t ideal either, what’s an email marketer to do? It’s all about finding the right balance for any given audience and campaign. As you evaluate your various email programs in light of frequency, keep these four considerations in mind:

Audience

First, you need to consider the who. Are you emailing leads (and if so, leads in which stage of the buyer’s journey?), customers, partners, etc.? Who your audience is makes a big difference in determining how often to email them. For example, leads who are in a late stage in your buyer’s journey are likely to expect (and appreciate) more frequent outreach than leads in a very early stage.

In general, the more ways you can classify your audience, the better. Some additional classifications to keep in mind include level (you’ll want to send fewer emails to a C-level audience than a manager-level audience) and relationship (the stronger your relationship with contacts, the more emails you can send them).

Context

Second, you need to look at frequency in light of the type of emails you’re sending. In some cases, people expect — and even want — more emails. Consider the case of an event: Once someone registers for an event you’re hosting, they expect to receive a confirmation email, a couple of reminders and perhaps some more detailed information leading up to the event as well as a follow up to close the loop after the event.

Other instances where it makes sense to send emails more frequently include when people have specifically signed up for something like a daily or weekly digest and when people are new customers. For instance, when someone first enrolls on your site or signs up for a new service, you might want to send them daily tips for the first week in order to help get them started and keep them engaged.

Unsubscribe Rates

Third, you need to consider what the metrics tell you. Remember, numbers don’t lie. In particular, it pays to keep tabs on your unsubscribe rates. While sending too frequent emails isn’t the only thing that might lead someone to unsubscribe, if you see that several people unsubscribe following a stream of frequent emails, that’s a pretty good clue to tone it down.

Looking at unsubscribe rates in addition to other key metrics like open rates and click through rates can also help paint a more complete picture by letting you know whether people are actually paying attention to your emails or whether you’ve just become noise in their inboxes.

Preferences

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pay attention to what your target audiences themselves tell you. One piece of this is looking at what they tell you indirectly by keeping tabs on the data as described above. But the other side is to look at what they tell you outright.

Is it really okay to ask people how much is too much? Well, maybe not if you bombard their inbox with emails asking as much, but there are other ways to go about it, such as setting up an email preference center where people can indicate how often they want to hear from you and the topics in which they’re interested.

Other creative ways to go about tailoring email frequency based on demonstrated preferences is to include a question about email frequency in customer surveys and to use your marketing automation tool to develop trigger-based campaigns that send additional emails when recipients take certain actions.

The Email Frequency Sweet Spot

Finding your email frequency sweet spot will definitely take some trial and error. Furthermore, it’s something that you need to revisit regularly, especially for different types of email campaigns and audiences, in order to ensure you remain aligned with changing needs and preferences. Nevertheless, once you do find that sweet spot, you (not to mention those receiving your emails) will be glad you put in that effort.