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How often should I send emails to clients?

22.11.16

by Thomas Emmerson

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Client: "How often should we send direct email marketing to our clients?"

Me: "It depends, how often are you sending it now?"

Client: "Monthly"

Me: "You could definitely send out more than that."

Client: "Really?  But wouldn't that be spamming them?"

Me (as I smile slowly): "Not necessarily."

Hands up if this sounds like you, or a conversation you've had within your business.  OK, hands down.  Hands up if you've wanted to communicate to your customers more but are afraid of spamming them?  Good, now we're getting somewhere.

The core question is always centered around frequency.  How much is too much?  The expectation from my clients is that I hold the answer (which I do) but that it will exit my mouth in the format of a period of time.  Their expectation is somewhere in the region of weekly to monthly.  They want to hear that the optimum level of direct marketing to their customers sits in a scheduled and engineered period of time.  They want it to be formulaic.

A friend once showed me a cartoon which had a man sat at his computer in 1999 and there was a stack of letters next to him being pushed into the bin.  His face had lit up at the sight of an email entering his inbox.  The next image was the same figure but dated 2009.  His computer inbox was full of emails but his face had lit up at the arrival of a single letter.  How times have changed.

Look at your inbox and consider what comes in.  There are the emails from online stores you may see monthly or weekly, there are emails from suppliers or customers that can appear every week and there are emails from colleagues that you probably see every day or so.  You may have sales call reminders that appear every morning and there may even be a daily inspirational quote sitting in your inbox before you even get to work.  I used to get daily Google alerts for mentions of the company which we could react to, these would appear at 9am and at 1pm.

I have emails that I receive once a year that I consider spam (a shoe retailer I bought from once that wishes me happy birthday), and I have emails I receive every day, or multiple times a day that I enjoy receiving.

The frequency is not actually the reason why a communication becomes spam.  It's the relevancy of the content.

If your newsletter is being sent out monthly but is full of garbage that your customers aren't interested in then you will see a lower engagement rate than a weekly specials email you send out with products your customers are highly interested in.  You may send out a daily market update to your clients that performs better than your annual report.  

The conversation needs to switch from frequency to relevancy.

Could your business send out emails to its clients more often than once a month?  Almost certainly.  Could your business get away with sending out a daily email?  More than likely.  Does your business have the customer understanding to deliver them content that they will look forward to seeing?  Now that is the question.

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