Email Sends: How Many is Too Many?

I have clients that send so much email that the people who have opted in and are most interested in their brand don’t even have time to read them. I have other clients that are not reaching out to customers often enough. The question I always get is, “How do you determine the right balance of email sends?” The answer used to be simple… until email got more complex with Marketing Automation.

My Old Answer

If your unsubscribe rate is under 1%, you are probably not sending enough. People are happy and would gladly receive more as long as the message is on target and not junk.

If your unsubscribe rate is over 2% you have some content and/or timing tuning to do.

My New Answer

Companies like HubSpot and Pardot have given email marketers so much more power and insight. Now, we can set up entire campaigns based on a schedule and pre-defined creative templates, and email sends are much more automated. Instead of focusing on the “send” part, we can focus on the data – and what to do with it. While 1% – 2% is still the mid-mark for unsubscribe rates, the reason people unsubscribe has less to do with frequency and more to do with content and how well you laser target your message.

It’s All About Targeting

Unroll.me is a service that scans users’ email accounts for all of the lists they subscribe to – either on purpose or unwittingly. I used it and could not believe I had over 200 subscriptions!

In addition to their main service available year round, Unroll.me is also known for their annual Unroll.me Awards, which showcases the best and worst email companies. The “winners” achieved unsubscribe rates that ranged from 45% to 52%.

What surprised me in the Unroll.me data is that these “winners” were not actually oversaturating their targets’ inboxes. They were sending untargeted mail.

How Many Times Can You Say I’m Sorry

When someone sends flowers for a mea culpa you figure they are a nice person who is just saying I’m sorry. But how many times do nice people mess up so badly they need to send flowers? (In a survey of one male, it’s about once a year to my – er, his – wife.) Sure, I like sending flowers but I don’t want to be targeted as the “I’m sorry guy” – and when you don’t match your message to your audience, you’re doing just that.

The quick lesson is simple: segment your audience and you can email them more frequently because they are receiving emails that apply to them. If you don’t have the time, budget or need to really dig in, then simply see my old answer above and dial down the frequency of your email campaigns. You won’t learn as much about your audience, but you won’t lose them either.

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