Email Marketing: Weigh Your Marketing Needs vs. Users Expectations

One of the most common questions about email marketing is how often should emails be sent to the contact list.  Unfortunately there is no magic formula to follow.  However, an educated guess can  be achieved by weighing content vs. marketing goals. 

We’ve all heard “it’s better to give than receive”.  In email marketing the rule morphs into, “If you don’t give, you won’t receive.”  Most email marketing campaigns are conceived as a way of marketing products, services, or events. So to gauge send frequency, the first step is identifying what you are looking to promote.

Ideally a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio is achieved in subscriber-centered content vs marketing promotion.  Unless there are special deals that the email subscribers anticipate getting, which double as a marketing promotion, anything less than 1-to-1 is almost sure to fail.

So let’s look at an example.  I work with a client who runs an event quarterly.  His ultimate goal is to advertise the event and get people to register.  The campaign we created uses a 2-to-1 ratio.  We run a content rich piece that provides tips and insights into his field of expertise.  The promotional piece is an event specific invitation that provides information and registration details.  We decided that two invitation were an ideal mix for the event.  So knowing we had three months to promote and needing two invitations in that time frame, we used our ratio.  Two invitations required four content rich emails.  A bi-weekly send schedule worked perfectly to make sure the contact group was getting the promised information but also met my clients goal of getting two event promotions delivered for each quarterly event.  The added bonus was that the content emails provided credibility by displaying his knowledge of the topic.

But what if the my client ran monthly events? A weekly schedule would be necessary.  What if he ran two events a month?  Then he would need to segment the emails into lists of contacts or personas that the content would apply.   If that wasn’t possible, he would need find other avenues to promote the event.  Don’t let this general equation convince you to make absurdly frequent sends.  No matter how good your content is your contact list does not want daily emails.   

Of course, this is just a guideline and a lot of individual factors come into play.  However, it can provide a basis to start a campaign and then make improvements as the numbers are analyzed.  It also forces us to take the users into consideration.  One of the most common and detrimental mistakes made in email marketing is focusing solely on what you want to market and forgetting about what the contact group was promised.  That’s the perfect recipe to have a large opt-out list or a big group of people that ignore your messages.

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