by Oliver Brainerd
Have you ever watched a Star Trek fan and a Star Wars fan really get into it? Two people, each of them with definitive ideas and reasons, all well-argued and supported with compelling examples, why their side is the best side for the innocent bystander to join. This is a particularly entertaining conversation to witness if you are, say, an X-Files fan. Or, just suppose, a fan of the equally valid source of glorious nerddom: Oprah’s Book of the Month Club.
Marketing strategy is like that: there are as many right answers as there are problems.
Especially in the ever-evolving global market of today, there is no single, holistic set of rules that can accurately guide marketing in every possible scenario. By the same logic, there is no single, one-sentence answer to the question, “How often should I send email marketing campaigns?”
That’s why you learn technique. Your marketing will never encounter laboratory-clean conditions where the Rules of Marketing, such as they are, apply. However, you will encounter patterns.
We can’t anticipate everything, so we prepare for as much as possible.
So…How Often Should You Send Emails for Your Email Marketing?
Right. I said there isn’t one, clean answer. And there isn’t.
However, there is a smart way to start. If your marketing plan is a) not pushing any specific initiative except brand awareness (the baseline for marketing), or b) for some reason doesn’t involve an email marketing aspect (unlikely), then there is a simple approach:
- Twice a month.
About every two weeks is a good amount of time to send out emails if your only marketing pursuit, at the moment, is brand awareness. Every two weeks is a fairly natural amount of time to remind your audience that you’re still around. It’s often enough
they can remember the last time they heard from you but not so often to start getting annoying.
This isn’t to say that sending emails more often is annoying. Whether it is or not will depend on the rest of your marketing strategy.
Baseline: twice a month. Or every two weeks, if you like. However, if you have a comprehensive email marketing strategy, you’ll likely send them with much more frequency.
Email Marketing Frequency Best Practices
There are a handful of factors that can inform your email marketing frequency.
- Set expectations for your audience, then keep to them. Sudden changes in timing and frequency catch people off guard and may cause dips in open rates or increases in unsubscribe rates.
- Consistency. We are creatures of habit so play to that.
- Often is good. Some schools of marketing thought suggest sending emails to customers as often as possible equates to higher sales. That might be true for some businesses, but not for all of them. Too many emails can be off-putting to customers, and they might just start ignoring your emails. The key is assessing your audience through data analysis.
- Automation is your friend. For a lot of reasons, automation helps with email marketing. It helps with consistency, following strategy, and email management tools usually come with some pretty good data analysis tools.
- When in doubt, crowdsource it. A lot of businesses have started including a choice of email frequencies at the point of signup. People like choices.
- Make regular audits of your data and your industry. If you’re running a restaurant, twice-weekly emails might be great. If you pour concrete, maybe an email every quarter makes more sense. Assess your open rates and finesse your marketing.
- Respond to appropriate demographic data in your data capture. If you’re getting attention from a lot of college students, it suggests a different course of action than if you’ve caught the attention of a population of retirees.
Your email marketing frequency best practices will vary depending on your marketing needs and the realities of your business. Make informed decisions about your brand and your marketing strategy. You can also enlist the help of marketing strategists to figure out best practices in your specific industry since the results can vary widely.
B2B Email Frequency Best Practices
A lot of marketing advice out there speaks to obtaining and retaining customers. Business to business (B2B) marketing makes different assumptions. Here are some things to consider if you are B2B:
- Follow-up matters a lot. It matters in all marketing, but in B2B marketing it carries extra weight. Everyone involved is busy, and everyone involved knows it. Savvy people doing savvy business will never get annoyed by follow-up. They take it as a sign of business affection. If you remember them, they appreciate it. Follow-up is only annoying to business partners who you probably shouldn’t be doing business with anyway. So proceed with confidence.
- Keep things relevant. If you’re talking to fellow travelers, they don’t need your sales pitch. They need the bottom line of your pitch. Craft your B2B messaging around value-added. So, send emails when you have pertinent information.
- Be a person talking to people. These are your colleagues, or at least your peers. The barrier between what you care about and what they care about is thinner. Use language that sounds like you know that, and follow a schedule.
- Be transparent and make appropriate assumptions. Odds are, these people have access to similar data you do. While you should always practice honesty in your marketing, B2B marketing requires one less layer of coloring to form your messaging.
- Check your own data frequently to check how well your schedule is working.
The main lessons are:
- Follow up often and early.
- Be relevant, pertinent, and transparent, and reflect that in the timing of your communication.
- Don’t sell: talk. B2B communication shouldn’t be the same as your customer-oriented communication.
- Test and audit.
B2B email frequency best practices begin in the same place as any of the rest of your marketing: follow your marketing strategy and make your decisions brand appropriate. The main difference is that your schedule makes different assumptions about its recipients.
Best Time to Send Marketing Emails
There are other punters out there who will prescribe definite times of day when emails work best. The general consensus is about 10:00 am and then another round between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Makes sense. Those are the times when the average working population is grabbing their mid-morning and late-afternoon cups of coffee as their excuse to step away from work for a few minutes. So, that’s when they’re checking emails not related to work. Those times have wisdom in them.
The keen-eyed among you might have noticed something about that piece of advice: we live on a ball. 10:00 am in Manitoba is not 10:00 am in Nairobi. That’s one wrinkle.
Another wrinkle is that 10:00 am and 3:00-5:00 pm aren’t downtime for every imaginable demographic. Teachers, for instance, might find those times impossible. So will cops, street sweeper drivers, and athletes–to name just a few.
The rule doesn’t always work, but there are techniques for building your marketing strategy.
- Automate emails to take into consideration the spherical world we live in, so your emails will go to recipients in different time zones at their version of 10:00 am. This is possible if you ask people to provide time zone information when they sign up for your email list, and it’s also possible to use IP addresses to inform your email list. Possible, but complicated. Your choice.
- Identify the most important areas to hit with your marketing. If you do more than half of your business in Chicago, then time your emails to talk to them. OR…
- Identify geographical areas you’d like to target in your marketing. If you want to do more business in Sydney, time your emails for that market.
- Bonus: do an audit of your marketing. Maybe 10:00 am and 3:00-5:00 pm aren’t good times for the people you a) do business with now or b) want to do more business with in the future. Figure out when your people check their emails and set your schedule for them.
If you feel unsure about your marketing needs, then simply try something. Create a schedule of some kind and follow it for a while. After a reasonable time, maybe a couple of months, audit your efforts. Change what’s not working–retain what works. Marketing, at its best, is organic. It changes with your needs. Looking at data is your friend and many CRM email platforms will provide you with the data you need to analyze and make adjustments.
How to Send a Good Marketing Email
There are two parts to sending a good marketing email: the act of sending it, and the quality of what you send.
For the act of sending, we suggest a good email automation tool. There are a lot of good ones out there these days. An automation tool (such as Hubspot, Active Campaign, MailerLite, etc.) gives you the ability to craft an effective email campaign. An email management app gives you the freedom to compose emails ahead of time and set sending schedules that coordinate with your marketing strategy.
Let your brand guide the content of your email campaigns. At this point, let’s assume you’ve designed your brand. If you have, then you will write your emails to fit your brand. You’ll then need to determine the purpose of your email campaign. Is to welcome a new subscriber? Is it to get someone who’s abandoned their online shopping cart to buy? Or, is it to communicate a sale or re-engage an existing audience? Your purpose will decide your email frequency. If there’s an upcoming event approaching, you may need to send more, if it’s off-season, less.
If you need an experienced marketing professional to help you determine email content, strategy, and frequency, speak to an ARC representative.
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