How Often to Send Marketing Emails (and Reduce Audience Fatigue)

How Often to Send Marketing Emails (and Reduce Audience Fatigue)

“How often should I send marketing emails” is a very common question – one that pretty much every digital marketer has asked, at some point or another.


Unfortunately, there’s an overload of information on the topic out there, and a lot of it is either contradictory, specific to certain types of business, or generally unhelpful.


We’re here to help you determine exactly how often you should be sending emails, and how to deal with audience fatigue when you overdo it.


How Often to Send Marketing Emails (and Reduce Audience Fatigue)


Like many things, there’s no single catch-all answer to this question. What works for other companies might not work for you at all. It’s best to figure out what works for you and then keep refining that, instead.


Planning Your Email Frequency

So, first of all, you can get a sense of how often to send marketing emails based on your customers’ lifecycle. Think about how often your customers make repeat purchases.


For B2C companies, high-frequency emails are fine – effective, even. That’s because people might buy something else soon after they’ve made a purchase, or at least be inclined to browse.


When someone buys your product or service, how long does it take until they need to do it again?


For example, SaaS customers typically purchase the software once, with recurring “purchases” happening as licenses renew. Aside from that, you might let them know about updates, and occasionally go for an upsell.


In that case, high-frequency emails aren’t all that helpful once someone actually makes a purchase. They don’t expect, and likely don’t want, to be bombarded by marketing emails.


How Often Should B2Bs Send Marketing Emails?

Once a week is a strong starting point that, statistically, tends to work for B2Bs. That said, the most important thing is to test and find what works for you, not what “tends to work”.


To do that, consider your audience. Who are you sending to? If your recipients are, for example, B2B managers or execs, even once a week might be too much. These folks’ inboxes get slammed full of emails constantly, and they’re generally pretty busy.


On the other hand, if your customers are a bit less busy (and less likely to be inundated with emails all the time), you can get away with a more frequent sending cadence and be more likely to actually get email engagement.


Once you have a starting point, begin A/B testing. It’s easy – split your recipient list in half, and send the same emails to each half, but at different frequencies. For example, send to the A half at the frequency you identified earlier, and to the B half a little more often.


Then you can compare your results, knowing that the only difference between the two is how often you were sending – and therefore which frequency worked better.


Set Your Expectations

It’s not just email frequency that varies by audience and industry – it’s results, too. It’s worth checking out what the average performance is in your industry. If the average open rate is 8% and you’re getting 10%, you know you’re doing fine.


Keep Your Other Campaigns in Mind

When you’re planning an email campaign, it’s important not to think of it as an isolated send. This is a mistake that many marketers make, and it can cost you leads. Think of other emails these recipients might be getting, too.


For example, let’s say you’re writing an email to let them know about a cool new product update. If they’re subscribed to your blog updates and you’ve got an email scheduled about an upcoming sale as well, that’s not just one email – they’re getting three in rapid succession.


Now, if you’re using email lead generation, your contacts are cold – that is, they’re not receiving any other communication from you, so you don’t need to worry about that.


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Diminishing Returns

Another thing to consider when planning out your cadences is that you can expect diminishing returns with more frequent emails.


Engagement will drop with every email, and there will be a threshold at which your complaint rate will rise substantially. You don’t want that, so don’t overdo it.


While you’re testing, keep a close eye on your complaint rate, and as soon as it starts to jump, dial your frequency back just a bit.


Warm Your IP Up First

One of the mistakes you can make when you begin using email lead generation is to immediately go all-out with your campaigns.


Think about it this way: you’ve just set up your ELG software. You’ve purchased a targeted list of 100,000 contacts from a reputable data provider. You’re ready to go.


So you build your first lead generation email, upload your list, and send.


And – despite how powerful ELG software is – the spam filters crack down hard on you.


That’s because your IP address went from totally fresh to white-hot in an instant, and that’s really not something spam filters like to see.


Instead, ramp up your sending volume gradually. Start small – initially, just send to a few hundred contacts, say 500. Then, the next day, send your campaign to 1000. Then 2500, then 5000, and so on.


Make sure you’re not overlapping those recipients. The second email’s 1000 contacts should be different than the 500 you sent to before, otherwise you’re going to flood people’s inboxes with the same email repeatedly.


Your goal here is to teach the ISPs to trust your sends. If you warm up gradually to where you’re sending to two 50,000-contact segments instead of just immediately slamming out 100,000 emails, you’ll look a lot more legitimate.


What to Do About Fatigue

Simply put, audience fatigue happens when your recipients get sick of getting emails from you all the time.


You’ll start to see engagement drop sharply, increased unsubscribes, and might even see more spam complaints.


How can you combat this? Well, for one thing, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you can mitigate it in the first place, all the better.


One great way to do that is by ensuring your contacts are as targeted as possible. If you’re sending emails to people who are genuinely interested in what you’re saying, your engagement will be higher – which means your deliverability will be higher too.


Give People Control

Everyone has an unsubscribe link in their emails, but you’ll do yourself and your contacts a favor by expanding on that idea a little more.


Try creating a preferences center, where your contacts can go to customize which emails they receive or opt out. Include a link to the preferences center in every email. Let them customize what sort of emails they want to get.


Also let them customize their personal data. Add fields for them to fill out things like name, gender, age, phone number, company, and whatever else you might like to know about them.


That way, you give them control over their experience and can collect some additional data points as well.


This can dramatically reduce outright unsubscribes.


Another way to put control into the contact’s hands in ways other than unsubscribing is to give them a pause button – “pause emails for 90 days”, or 30 days, or whatever makes sense with your email cadence.


That way, your contacts can get a break without having to outright unsubscribe.


Segment By Engagement

Audience segmentation is a very powerful tool in general, and it’s very useful here too. Create segments based on how contacts are engaging with your emails.


It’s important to recognize that not every contact will be as interested, even if they’re opted in to your emails.


Instead of firing off the same message to everyone, whether they’re listening or not, split them up. Make a segment for people who’ve stopped opening your messages. Create reengagement campaigns (see below) for these contacts.


If they still aren’t even opening your messages, consider getting rid of them entirely. They clearly don’t want to open your emails, so you’re not losing any opportunities by omitting them, and your deliverability and open rate will thank you for it.


Make another for contacts that open fairly regularly but aren’t clicking. Your messaging for this segment should be focused on finding something that does entice them to click.


Make another segment one for highly-engaged contacts who are opening and clicking your links but aren’t actually converting. These are your high-priority prospects, and they warrant specific messaging and campaigns designed to convert them.


Reengage Your Contacts

Just because contacts have stopped opening your emails doesn’t mean you can’t still get value there. A reengagement campaign is an email or series of emails specifically designed to get this segment interested and interacting.


The first step here is to understand why they’ve stopped engaging. This can be one of quite a few reasons:

  • You’re sending them too many emails too frequently
  • Your subject lines don’t reflect the content of the email
  • The design is confusing, hard to read, or just bad
  • They’re on mobile and your emails aren’t well optimized for mobile
  • Your content is repetitive or not relevant to them
  • They only signed up for a one-time offer


Knowing that, you can try and narrow it down. If your send frequency isn’t very high, your subject lines are spot on, and your design is clear and easily readable, none of those are the problem.


There’s a tendency to overcomplicate this. Many marketers get hugely creative trying to get contacts to re-engage.


You want to know whether they’re still interested in what you’re offering, so why not just ask them outright?


Seriously. People get so many marketing emails, a little upfront plain speech can be appreciated. “Hi <First Name>, are you still interested in <what you sell>?”


The trick with this is to keep it super short and sweet, but don’t just give your product name. If you sell a service to help businesses generate more blog traffic, for example, ask “are you still interested in growing your blog traffic?”


Sounds a lot more convincing, right?


Whatever your approach to reengaging lapsed contacts, it’s a great way to improve your email campaigns.


If a contact becomes more active because of it, awesome. If not, then you can remove them from your list – increasing your open rate and, therefore, your deliverability.


Wrap Up: How Often to Send Email Marketing

A quick recap for you – start with one email a week, begin testing with two different frequencies to see which performs better. Do that repeatedly to refine your cadence and identify exactly how often works best for you.


Make sure you warm up your IPs before you start sending huge email lead generation campaigns, and do what you can to prevent audience fatigue. When people lapse in engagement, use reengagement campaigns to either bring them back into activity or clear out inactive contacts from your list.



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