on December 19, 2022 • 15 minute read
Ever wondered if your subscribers actually want to receive the emails you keep sending them?
Well, they subscribed, so they must want it on some level, right?
Unfortunately, the truth is not that simple. Your subscribers may have opted into receiving your newsletter only to gain access to a specific webinar. They had no interest in the marketing emails that followed and they’re likely to just ignore them.
This phenomenon is called graymail, and it’s a bigger problem than marketers think. While it results in bigger mailing lists, it doesn’t necessarily translate into higher email engagement (in fact, it may lower it), regardless of the email frequency.
In fact, HubSpot even discontinued its instant blog notifications after new blog posts were published, as they were sometimes sending up to four emails a day, resulting in unsubscribes and low engagement.
So we got to thinking about how other marketers and the companies they work for tackle these issues. We partnered with SeventhSense and interviewed 75 companies in an effort to clear this up.
Let’s dive into what we discovered:
The results are in, and Tuesday wins by a significant margin. Over 40% of our respondents said that sending marketing emails on a Tuesday proved best for positive engagement. The next runner-up is Monday with less than 20%. Wednesday and Thursday follow with around 15% each.
Friday and Saturday got really low scores with less than 5% of respondents identifying each of them as the best option. None of the companies picked Sunday as the best day to send emails and get positive engagement.
It’s clear that the closer you get to the weekend, the less likely you are to get engagement on your marketing emails.
We partnered with Seventh Sense to ask real-world marketers about how they determine email frequency and measure its impact on engagement.
The people of Seventh Sense take send time frequency more seriously than most. They’ve built a tool that not only sends emails to every subscriber at their optimal time but also uses automatic engagement-based segmentation to email customers at their preferred frequency, too.
To go deep into how other marketers optimize their send time, we first needed to level set to see how often marketers are sending emails to their subscribers today.
Weekly and several times a week were the most popular answers by far. About 45% of our respondents send emails on weekly basis and about a third do it several times a week.
Here is a breakdown of why companies send emails at the frequency they opted for.
The largest percentage of our respondents opted for weekly emails and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the level that keeps the users engaged and provides them with regular updates without making them feel overwhelmed.
Gerald Lombardo of The Word Counter emphasizes that there’s a fine line between being informative and being considered an annoyance. “We simply strive to present our newest offerings to our audience without being overly forceful in the process.”
The way the company discovered its optimal sending frequency was with trial and error. The Word Counter started off by sending marketing emails three times a week and they discovered that they were losing subscribers. “By switching to one time per week, we have found that is the perfect medium to retaining attention without being overbearing,” Lombardo concludes.
Of course, just because some companies (or even most) found that weekly is the best option for them, doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everybody.
Testing how different user groups respond can be a great approach. Global Residence Index tested different email frequencies and after they got to know their subscribers, they learned their preferences. According to Mark Damsgaard, Head of Client Advisory, weekly emails are the optimal frequency at which the company’s audience wants to receive emails. “It’s how we get more engagement and fewer unsubscribes.”
Keeping subscribers interested and minimizing unsubscriptions is very important. Shawn Harris of Daycare Websites emphasized the importance of testing. “We send emails at this frequency after testing different groups. Our marketing team sent emails over several weeks and analyzed the numbers that tended to generate the needed metrics.”
Harris added that since the main purpose of email campaigns is to increase sales, this frequency proved to be just about right to prevent unsubscriptions.
You can use an email marketing platform to get useful data about how your subscribers interact with the emails you send them, says Arya Bina, founder of Kobe Digital. “By gathering the reports MailChimp provides, we see that Monday mornings have a higher open rate compared to other days or times of the week.”
Bina determined that emailing her list weekly lowered unsubscribe rates.
Around a third of our respondents send emails several times per week. It’s a good approach for companies that want to build relationships with their userbases.
If your target audience simply wants to see more content, there’s really no choice but to provide it for them. This is exactly the point Jamie Penney of The Backyard Pros brought up when explaining the increased engagement the company saw in its email campaigns. As a result, the company upped the email frequency to twice a week and hasn’t seen a drop in engagement or open rates.
According to Corina Leslie of ZeroBounce, in addition to a weekly newsletter, several other weekly emails go out to different audience segments. Leslie emphasized the importance of modifying the sending rate based on research. “The insights we get from analyzing our metrics allow us to adjust our sending, if necessary. Our goal is to always show up in our customers’ inboxes when we have a highly relevant offer – whether it’s educational or promotional content.”
One last piece of advice was to keep in mind that customers receive emails from other companies, too. “How much of their time are you asking for – and are you making it worthwhile for them? Asking this question before you hit Send helps you find your ideal sending cadence,” Leslie concludes.
Frequency and timing can’t always be broken down into simple bite-sized equations. Some people make time in their schedule to go through their newsletters only every two weeks on Friday, or every first Monday of a month.
According to Faizan Fahim of Bookaapi, the company used to send weekly newsletters, but by tracking the open rate, they realized that much more people opened the email on the second and fourth Saturdays than on the first and third Saturdays. “I did A/B testing. One group received the emails on the 1st and 3rd Saturday, while the other group got them on the 2nd and 4th Saturday. The result clearly shows my audience finds more time to read the emails on the 2nd and 4th Saturday, so I am sending the emails on the 2nd and 4th Saturday.”
Interestingly, some of our respondents mentioned that this frequency is good for B2B companies.
Cloud Employee sends newsletters “every second and fourth week of the month,” says marketing manager January Collamat. “We find that this frequency works best for our audience (B2B). Any more than that, we’d get lower open rates & click rates, and a higher number of unsubscribes.”
Clearly, it’s all about the audience’s response.
Your emailing frequency may even vary depending on the changing circumstances. Urban Dare’s John Hubbard mentions that since the company’s products are seasonal, its email cadence varies depending on the time of the year. “It reaches one email per week during the peak season to stay on top of the mind while not being intrusive. During the low season, we send one email per 5 weeks just to build anticipation and help shoppers create their wishlists.”
Ivo Iv of Decor Home Ideas supports this as-needed approach. “Our email cadence depends on the actual news we can share with our audience. We tried different approaches to group news in an email. After analyzing the engagement and unsubscription numbers, we decided to aim for 2-3 small topics per email. And that brings us to an average of 1-2 emails per month.”
Sending monthly emails is a good way to avoid inbox overload. Sending emails just to send emails means you’ll quickly run out of content and your user base is likely to start ignoring your emails if they don’t have anything substantive in them.
Pacific54 founder Avi Cohen says that monthly emails allow his agency “to be present in the inbox of our subscribers, but not to overload them to the point of clicking unsubscribe.”
Recipients don’t just get marketing emails, though. In addition to the monthly newsletter, they also get welcome emails and anniversary reminders for a personal touch.
This, of course, depends on the type of your business. Mariusz Michalowski of Spacelift believes that the key to determining the right email frequency is to fully understand your audience. “In our case, our email base contains people with technical knowledge, mostly developers. This is why we can’t just send emails that are not providing enough value or information about product updates.”
As this group is highly sensitive to spam because they often receive many emails or messages from various companies or recruiters, it’s important to condense all the updates and new content in one email, while communicating with the technical audience on a bi-monthly basis.
A lot of our respondents commented on the necessity of doing your research and figuring out the best email cadence for your business. This means you need to understand your customers first.
Studying your industry averages for email frequency is a good place to start, but the whole process will likely require some trial and error.
To measure the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy, you can use HubSpot Marketing data to review individual email campaigns and which content is most popular, in order to attract more subscribers and qualified leads. Now you can quickly assess the performance of your email marketing strategy in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important KPIs for tracking the overall performance and success of your email marketing strategy. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
This is a fairly simple way you can see if your emails are effective. Just check if they engage with the sent content.
Over 72% of our respondents reduce the mailing frequency for recipients who are no longer opening messages or clicking on links.
Still, almost 30% still send the same volume of emails to users regardless of engagement, and that’s not a good practice for several reasons.
And this can be a real problem. If you have a low sender score, the ISPs might start sending your emails to recipients’ spam folders automatically.
Around three-quarters of our respondents said they monitor their sender scores and over 62% of them identified it as a very important piece of data.
If you monitor your email delivery rates and bounce rates as well as your response rates and use that information to modify your sending cadence, you can save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
Instead of sending emails to everyone at the same rate, you can try segmenting your email list according to recipients’ profiles. Work on identifying your most engaged and least engaged audience members and build a strategy designed for each segment.
For example, Accelity Marketing sends “monthly campaigns that are 2–4 emails in a month — but we’re not hitting up the same audience each time,” says marketing manager Jenny Weeden. “This allows us to warm up multiple personas without overwhelming them, and keeps our messaging targeted.”
Keeping the messaging targeted is key here. You want to send your subscribers a message that matches their stage in the buyer’s journey. Impersonal, one-size-fits-all emails are unlikely to have much of an impact on your customers. Digital marketing and communication have become too personalized for that. People expect more.
After receiving a list of new contacts, Inside Sales Solutions “segments the contacts based on their interest, position, and pain point,” says Dani Stancheva, digital marketing manager. “We do this because we find the very generic, HTML-type, mass emails to be incredibly ineffective and takes away from our boutique-persona that we try to embody.”
Stancheva also notes that they start with a three-emails-in-three-days nurturing cycle before getting recipients into the standard email flow.
If there was one thing that everyone agreed on, it was that your metrics should guide you. Every business and audience is different.
For example, Chelsea Cohen of SoStocked said the company experimented with different email frequencies and found that sending emails several times a week just works best overall. “We always have good information to share with our customers, so we use that opportunity to send multiple informative emails each week.”
Of course, what worked for SoStocked as a SaaS business that’s constantly rolling out new updates for its product and figuring out new ways to assist its customers might not work for everyone.
Imagine Business Development uses a variety of variables to determine send frequency. “These include where they are in our engagement management lifecycle, ideal client segmentation, the action we’re solving for, and data on their engagement patterns,” says founder Doug Davidoff.
“If they demonstrate a declining engagement pattern, we use the artificial intelligence capabilities of Seventh Sense to slow down the frequency, and if the engagement pattern drops below a certain level we change the type of email that is sent.”
This flexible method of email might sound complicated, but marketing automation software gives you the power to customize send schedules. It’s likely this method will become more common.
While this doesn’t affect email frequency directly, it’s a good way to improve your response rate.
If you’ve read our guide to getting more click-throughs on your emails, you know that marketers are really big on providing value.
And in our discussion of email frequency, we heard even more about it. In short, some people told us that the frequency matters less than the value you provide.
Metric Digital‘s head of email Cory Smith strongly advocates focusing on the value before even thinking about frequency, insisting that every email you send should provide some value to your customers.
Smith also cautioned that increased frequency often results in decreased conversion, negating potential benefits. So keep that in mind when you’re monitoring your metrics.
Related: 23 Effective Ways to Reduce Email Unsubscribes
Email is an incredibly powerful marketing channel and it’s well worth optimizing. If you want to reap the benefits of a successful email marketing campaign, you need to ensure you’re sending the right emails at the right times to the right people.
And how do you decide how often you should send marketing emails? How do you identify which emails to send to which recipients? How do you know if your open or click-through rate is good enough?
By analyzing the right metrics and benchmarking them against the competition.
Databox Benchmark Groups is just the tool you need for that. It can help you understand how your business is stacking up against the competition in all relevant aspects. You can access all the data you need to see how other companies like yours are performing.
It’s fully anonymous, accessible, and free. You can instantly benchmark your performance against a wide group of similar businesses using data from any of the 50+ popular software tools. All you have to do is join groups of companies like yours (industry, size, etc.); it just takes a few clicks.
There’s really no reason to hesitate, so sign up for Benchmark Groups today and start optimizing your email marketing campaigns.
If you’re already a registered Databox user, you don’t even have to sign up. You’ll just have to provide some basic information about your company.
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