Why it’s time to stop worrying so much about email frequency and start focusing on email relevance instead
What’s the correct number of emails to send customers on a weekly basis? Be careful how you answer.
The truth is, there is no “correct” number of emails to send customers. If you’re like most retail marketers, you have your “frequency fears” about over-emailing customers, and that’s perfectly normal, but maybe it’s time to change how you think about how much is too much, because the answer is really that it depends.
There’s No Magic Number for Email Frequency
One of the most common fears about email frequency is over-emailing customers. It’s safe to say that this fear is based on an underlying assumption that your emails clutter customers’ inboxes. However, there are two key flaws to this argument:
- People like receiving email: According to a recent study, 68% of consumers prefer to receive brand communication via email and feel that this is the most personal channel for brand engagement. Additionally, 64% of Gmail users (which is the most commonly used email provider) use the promotions tab and nearly half check it at least once per day. This regular use of the promotions tab indicates that consumers actually want to engage with content from brands and are making a specific effort to do so.
- If your emails are relevant to customers, they’re interesting not annoying: If you know something is genuinely interesting to your customers, you’ll never say “we’re sharing too much good stuff, we need to pull back.” It’s messages that aren’t relevant to customers that become annoying and are viewed as clutter, whereas the ones that are relevant to them add value.
Once you recognize those flaws to the email frequency argument, you can begin to craft an email strategy that prioritizes content relevance for individual consumers over sending a specific number of emails. Because at the end of the day, there is no magic number for email frequency — the “right” number is different for every customer and it’s very much dependent on the relevance of the content to their individual preferences.
Overcoming Email Frequency Fears with Strategic Planning and Relevant Content
Retail email marketing programs are often beholden to merchandising schedules. From new product announcements to inventory that needs to be pushed, there are certain emails that just have to go out to everyone. And there’s nothing wrong with that — there are legitimate business reasons for sending these blast emails.
However, these blast emails should only be one part of the equation. On the flip side, you also need to start creating a more personalized inbox experience, whether it’s through emails that go to targeted audiences (e.g. those with a predicted affinity toward a category and/or past purchasers or past browsers), dynamic batch sends (in which different products are featured based on customer preference) or triggered emails (e.g. cart and search abandonment, price drop alerts, back in stock alerts and post-purchase recommendations).
If you’re still concerned about pushing the limit on email frequency, you can even take this line of thinking one step further by using predictive models to identify customers who are likely to open and click on emails (in which case you can feel comfortable sending those customers more emails) as well as customers who are unlikely to open emails or likely to unsubscribe from emails (in which case you can send those customers fewer emails).
Ultimately, your goal should be to have a mix between the types of messages that you need to send out based on business imperatives and the types of messages that are relevant to specific customers and will create a value-add experience for them. And when you find this mix, you won’t even have a magic number for email frequency, because some customers will get more emails and others will get fewer emails based on where their interests lie.
A Case Study in Debunking Email Frequency Fears
Many leading retailers have already taken advantage of this dynamic. Consider the case of one jewelry retailer that has started to reduce the number of batch emails it sends customers in exchange for more targeted emails, be they triggers or dynamic sends. When looking at its targeted emails compared to its batch and blast emails, the retailer achieves an average of 4x increase in opens, 3x increase in clicks, 2x increase in repeat site visits and, most importantly, 10x increase in revenue per email.
All together, since shifting away from batch and blast emails in favor of more targeted emails, the retailer has seen a significant increase in the overall revenue contribution from email programs.
Approach Your Email Marketing Programs with Confidence
There was once a time when email frequency fears were justified because checking emails was a project. It required waiting for a dialup connection to load (not to mention listening to that connection load) and could only happen in a single place. As a result, people only checked their emails once a day (if that) and it was a time consuming process.
Today, however, that experience is nothing but a distant memory. Over half of all consumers now use smartphones as the primary way to access their email, meaning they’re constantly checking email and scrolling through their inboxes is less of a chore and more of an activity.
Against this backdrop, consumers don’t notice how many times a given brand emails them in a day or week, and in fact they want to receive emails — particularly if those emails are relevant to them. Just look at the stats: There’s a reason that retailers’ triggered emails receive a 40%+ open rate on average.
What To Do Next
Take your email marketing program to the next level: Learn how to create beautiful and effective emails, build audiences in minutes and more in our step-by-step playbook for email marketers.