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Daily, weekly or monthly: How to find the frequency that fits your email subscribers

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29th May 2015
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Too often, email marketers play a guessing game when deploying email campaigns. Marketers tend to send a mix of daily emails, weekly check-ins and responses to purchases with no real strategic frequency plan. But this stab-in-the-dark approach often leads to disengaged customers. While 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day, you won’t capture that 91% with a single strategy.

A recent study of top performing email campaigns found that subscribers actually prefer different types of emails at different frequencies. Rather than blasting out emails to a long list of subscribers, marketers need to understand the benefits of each frequency type and look closely at individual consumer preferences.

Determining the best frequency for your brand can be the difference between customer loyalty and the trash bin. Marketers should understand the pros and cons for each of these email frequency types: daily, weekly and monthly.  

Daily

Like a newspaper, daily emails should offer exciting content that provides relevant updates. These emails should be more time sensitive than most, and they should incentivize subscribers to act quickly (whether purchasing, recommending or downloading). For example, brands can use daily emails to highlight weekend sales that only last for two or three days.

Too many of these quick emails can feel repetitive, though. For customers, this repetition can deter engagement and purchases. If you’re one of the nine-in-10 email users that check their inbox daily, you can likely name a brand that emails you too often. Chances are also good that you delete more of these emails than you read. While daily emails can serve as a powerful engagement tool and lead to immediate consumer actions, the line between engagement and annoyance is a precarious one.

Daily emails need balance. In this goldilocks complex, too many and too few emails that demand action are bad, but somewhere in between is just right.

Weekly

Attention-grabbing daily emails are valuable when first starting an email marketing program. However, many growing brands should transition to a weekly email program. Weekly emails are best at promoting weekly deals and extended products.

While some marketers think you have to bully your audience into purchasing, this is not necessarily true. Weekly emails work just as well because they tend to be opened promptly. In fact, 74% of weekly email opens happen within the first 24 hours of subscribers receiving them. 

Marketers can capitalise on the instinct to open with a targeted focus on a particular business goal or product. Here, marketers should pay close attention to subject lines as they often drive early open rates. Subject line testing is great first step toward more engaging content.

While the frequency may be right, it’s just a foot in the door for email marketers. Ultimately, content encourages consumers to engage and convert. Ask yourself, could a single weekly email persuade your subscribers to buy? If not, refine your messaging or frequency to produce better results.

Monthly

As with weekly emails, monthly emails exhibit high open rates at the beginning of their campaigns. Eighty-six percent of opens happened within the first day. Newsletters and information-based emails are most successful at this frequency. 

More generic emails help brands sustain engagement from month to month. For example, Trader Joe’s has crafted a great monthly e-newsletter. As the site states, the specialty grocery store’s newsletter alerts subscribers to “enticing recipes, food how-tos, upcoming events and contests.” What works best about the newsletter is that many of the featured recipes and how-tos incorporate Trader Joe’s own products. So not only does the newsletter educate in an interesting way, but it also encourages subscribers to return to Trader Joe’s in the future. All of this comes with a promise not to clutter subscribers’ inboxes, making each and every e-newsletter a valuable read.

Just as absent email campaigns can lose subscribers through disengagement, heavy-handed campaigns can lose subscribers by doing too much. Our suggested email strategy is a combination of daily, weekly and monthly, even when industries differ. Finding the right balance for your brand is critical to achieving results.

Email marketers can use preference centers to better understand what subscribers enjoy most. Marketers can query a subscriber’s past open rates to determine which email frequencies and types are effective. Preference centres also help brands set clear email expectations and empower subscribers to select their own optimal frequencies. No two email subscribers are the same, and email marketers have access to the tools to make customers feel as such.

Across all three frequencies and within a range of subscriber preferences, email marketers should also be aware of rising industry trends. No matter how prime the timing or perfect the content, certain email features can make or break subscriber engagement:

  • Go mobile: Mobile clicks now account for 40% of emails clicks. This 10% increase year-over-year has driven conversion rates on mobile up 70%.
  • Be responsive: All email campaigns need to have responsive design features as email users embrace multichannel. In Q4 of 2014, 37 percent of all emails incorporated responsive design. When marketers used responsive design across all of their mailings, mobile click-to-open rates increased by 40%.
  • Use triggers: No matter the industry, every company should have a triggered email campaign. Due to their immediate deployment and high personalization, triggered emails experience 2.5 times higher open rates and two times higher unique click rates than general campaigns. These campaigns can fall within any email frequency. They can also respond to a number of actions: transaction, website visits, abandoned carts, etc.

Kris Sakaluk is an analyst  in Yesmail’s Intelligence Products Team, where he engages with marketers of all shapes and sizes, and is constantly helping them build and execute effective marketing strategies. 

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