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Controlling the frequency of emails that you send to your customers is a key aspect of any email marketing strategy, and the big question is how often should you do it?

There is no simple answer - send emails too often and you risk annoying the customers so much that they unsubscribe; not often enough and you run the risk that they will forget they signed up in the first place.

So how often is too often?
Email marketers can run the risk of damaging the relationship built up with a customer by sending emails too often, causing customers to ignore or delete them.

After a recent purchase from Figleaves.com, my wife has received a staggering 14 emails in the space of 3-4 weeks with a range of offers. This, to me at least, is far too often, and has led to her forwarding the emails straight to the deleted items folder, so it isn't good for Figleaves either.

Internet marketing author Dave Chaffey says:

"The reason why they may send emails weekly or even more often is simply that up to a point, the higher the frequency, the higher the monthly sales."

"Reminders, and an increased range of offers in the inbox do work. The risk, of course, is that those customers who don’t respond see the retailer as a spammer."

In DoubleClick's 2005 Email Consumer Survey, 49% of respondents classified spam as '"email from a company I have done business with but that comes to frequently''.

How often should retailers be sending out emails?  
According to Chaffey, if you send emails too often for the customer, they will lose interest and the emails will lose their impact.:

"Weekly is possibly too often and five times or more per month is definitely too often, regardless of the product range or offers."

According to Darren Fell at pure360:

"This has all to do with the relevancy of the communication. If it is generic marketing communication then it should deliver exactly what they told you they would send. I'd say 1-2 mails per month for general information."

Are there risks in not sending emails often enough?
Obviously, sales volumes may be affected, but, according to Andrew Robinson at Facultas, this can affect the cleanliness of your list, as you will not be purging old addresses often enough. 

This can also harm your sending IP reputation:

"You may also stimulate a complaint rate which is higher than normal because recipients have forgotten who you are or whether they signed up to receive email from you. This may cause your IP to be blocked at some providers."

Find the right level of frequency for your customers
Monitoring the level of unsubscribes is also a good indicator of how the customer feels about the emails they receive, though many people prefer to forward the mail to their deleted items folder or report spam, so this method is not perfect.

The answer may be for email marketers to take a more sophisticated approach - monitoring open and click rates and adjusting frequencies according to the responses.

More simply, you could ask your customers how often they want to receive emails. A simple check box during registration might be enough to ensure that this problem is overcome, with the customer in control and presumably happy.

Graham Charlton

Published 17 May, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Readers of this post may also be interested in a recent presentation on Effective Email Marketing I have given which covers what Graham has covered in this post and what I call "Right Touching" which I feel is one of the biggest Challenges of Email Marketing.

http://www.davechaffey.com/Total-E-mail-Marketing/Effective-Email-marketing

over 9 years ago

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Mike Searles, Services Manager at ChannelAdvisor

I think that sellers of niche products or sellers with highly specialised inventory can really excel, here. It's very easy (and low cost!) for a comic-book/toy seller to develop half a page of bulletted content regarding recent goings on in that field, and wrap some marketing around that; or a seller of CD's/music DVD's listing recent reissues, etc, and interleaving marketing there. As an online buyer who still buys my hobby-type purchases reactively, I'd actually appreciate marketing of this sort, even on a weekly basis.
Tie it together with a robust CRM solution and reccomendation engine, and I'm sure to spend FAR more than my wife is happy with...

over 9 years ago

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Email Expert

Great post but what is with all the "Test" comments and are there no moderators on econsultancy?

about 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Email Expert. Yes, there are moderators, thanks for the comment. 

about 6 years ago

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