Email Cadence – Everything That You Wanted To Know

Written by: Chris Donald
Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

Marketers often find themselves treading a thin line when sending out emails. Sending only a few could result in lost opportunities to drive conversions and sales. On the other hand, releasing a barrage of emails could annoy readers to the point where they unsubscribe or – even worse – report you as spam!

In reality, there is no specific appropriate number of emails. The optimal number varies based on your subscriber base, the email type, the purpose, and the product you’re selling.

The key is to balance keeping your subscribers updated and engaged with your brand.

This guide explores the different facets of email cadences and recommends helpful guidelines to determine the optimal number of marketing emails for your brand and how often you should send them.

What is Email Cadence?

Email cadence primarily refers to the frequency and timing of your marketing email sends. Optimizing your email cadence will help your messages achieve the most desirable engagement level, significantly impacting your overall business goals.

It is also described as the rhythm of your email campaign – wherein the timing and frequency of your email messages are strategically matched to suit the content needs of your target audiences. This includes the critical points in their journey with your brand, their interests, and lifestyle patterns.

Simply put, It can help you determine how many emails to send and when so you don’t tick your customer off. At the same time, you don’t just fade away from recall either.

10 Email Cadence Best Practices – Find An Email Cadence That Works For You

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Even though there’s no specific formula for email cadence that works in every situation, here are some of our top picks to make it easier to determine the optimum one for your brand:

1) Determine Your Goals

At the outset, identify the chief outcomes of your email campaigns. For instance – strengthening brand awareness, boosting sales, promoting brand loyalty, or others. 

Setting goals will help you craft tailored content and establish a cadence for marketing emails aligned with your business goals. It will also help you allocate time and resources to audiences closely associated with your goals.

2) Study Your Buyer’s Journey

Awareness of your buyer’s journey will give you insights into critical touchpoints your users traverse while engaging with your brand through the different stages – awareness, deliberation, and decision. 

Since it’s impractical to leverage the same message at each stage, each will require different engagement levels. This will help you establish a suitable cadence that enables them to progress seamlessly along the different stages. 

Notably, marketing automation software can help you customize the content and timing of your marketing emails to suit different prospects’ interests and behavior.

3) Implement List Segmentation

The preferences and needs of a younger target group will likely differ significantly from an older group. Since your email list will contain a variety of contacts spanning different age groups and genders, you must emphasize segmenting when sending bulk emails to avoid spamming!

4) Observe Behavioral And Purchase Trends And Patterns

Gain a deeper understanding of specific patterns and trends within your email list. To explain, you can look for information about the time of day they’re usually online or whether they are open to a specific frequency of emails. 

Knowing your prospects’ Behavioral traits will help you understand what clicks and what isn’t with your email marketing and enable you to connect with them under favorable circumstances. It will facilitate informed decisions on the type of content to send, how often to send, and the ideal order for sending your marketing messages.

5) Leverage Personalization

An appropriate cadence aims to get your leads to advance through their journeys by opening and clicking through your email and converting. Generic, impersonal mass emails will likely not motivate your prospective buyers to complete their journey. You can implement email software to personalize your marketing email subject lines and content to appeal to specific target groups.

6) Keep A Watchful Eye On Your Unsubscribes And Engagement Rates

Ensure that you’re closely monitoring your unsubscribe and engagement rates and are not annoying your subscribers by over-sending your emails. If you notice a high unsubscribe rate or low engagement rates, it may indicate that you need to reduce the frequency of your emails.

7) Proactively Gather Customer Feedback

Sending out survey and questionnaire forms will enable you to interact directly with your users. You ask them for their preferences about the type of email they want to receive and the frequency.

By customizing your email marketing message frequency, you can confidently maintain a good cadence that keeps your subscribers happy with the volume of emails they receive.

8) Experiment With Different Types of Content

Innovating with your content is a great way to determine an ideal frequency of emails to be sent at the appropriate time. 

By exploring new types of content in your emails, for example, introducing interactive elements in your email, you distinguish from the clutter. This is especially ideal for brands looking for fun and lively ways to promote brand interaction.

The key is understanding your audience profile and crafting innovative emails that best suit them and your brand. Standard, generic emails can become repetitive and lose their appeal. Even if the competition is following general industry standards, it still bodes well to experiment and explore what works best for your brand.

9) Empower Your Subscribers

Always provide your subscribers with an option to choose their preferred email frequency. By doing so, you empower them to opt out if your email volumes start to get overwhelming. This choice motivates them to give your email a try instead of unsubscribing outright. 

Implement a link at the end of your emails that enables your subscribers to update their email preferences as and when needed. 

Also, customers often approach email frequencies conditionally rather than in absolutes. So, even if the deluge of your emails is starting to bother them, chances are they’ll likely want to continue hearing from you. Give them the flexibility to reset their preferences for your email frequency, so you can continue your emails at a pace that matches their comfort level.

10) Run Tests To Identify The Most Viable Email Cadence

For brands that are new to email marketing, it may be challenging. A key reason could be a lack of historical data to help you understand the preferred cadence for your audience.

In such circumstances, it is advisable to implement tests on various cadences and explore the different outcomes for each test. Irrespective if you implement gradual changes or run Email A/B tests checks, testing out different cadences will give you better insights into what works best with your target audiences.

Factors Influencing Email Cadence

Factors Influencing Email Cadence

Optimal email cadence for a brand depends on several factors, including:

1) Industry

It plays a crucial role in determining the frequency of email communications. For example, a wellness and fitness brand may frequently promote its new programs, seasonal offers, and other promotions compared to a software company looking to share product and pricing information with its potential customers.

2) Purpose

Your email campaign objects are one of the most important determiners of cadence. For instance, you’ll likely need to send out more frequent emails when promoting a limited-time sale than when sending out your newsletter on company updates and product information.

3) Target audiences

Aspects such as age, interests, purchase habits, and even location will likely impact the frequency your subscribers prefer to receive your marketing emails. A younger target audience may be more excited about your brand and its offers and appreciate your frequent emails, while older audiences may prefer targeted emails at more space-out intervals. 

4) Content

The frequency of your emails will also vary based on your content, when you are sending it, and even your subscriber list size. Staying flexible and scaling to your evolving audience and business needs is advisable.

Is Email Frequency The Same As Email Cadence?

Though they are often assumed to mean the same and are closely linked, email frequency differs from email cadence. Broadly speaking:

Email Frequency

The number of emails you send in a given period. For example, when you send three promotional emails weekly, the email frequency is three.

Email Cadence

It has a broader scope and includes the frequency, gaps between email sends, the timing, and the pattern of emails. For example, an email flow comprises one welcome message to the person signing up, followed by an onboarding message after a day.

Target audiences play a vital role in cadence. Larger audiences will typically require you to send more emails to ensure your audiences are consistently engaged.

Importance of Finding The Optimal Email Cadence

If your email cadence does not align with your audiences, it can dent your overall outcomes, including ROI. Let’s learn more about it:

Effects of Under-Sending Marketing Emails

Sending emails less frequently can ensure your subscribers don’t feel overwhelmed with your messages. It can also help create excitement around your emails, boost open and click-through rates, and drive conversion. However, the downside is that it impacts: 

Customer engagement: When your customers do not receive emails from you, it may make them less interested in your brand. With lower email frequency, they may gradually fail to recognize your brand and/or the purpose for subscribing to your emails.

As subscribers shift away from your brand due to lower brand awareness, the reduced customer base affects overall business opportunities.

Email list quality: Email lists need regular updating and maintenance. Under-emailing will diminish your ability to identify abandoned/invalid email addresses, making email list cleaning even more complex.

Business Credentials: Infrequent emails sent from a particular address will catch the attention of most spam filters. This will result in your emails going to the spam folder and affecting your sender’s reputation.

Effects of Over-Sending Marketing Emails

When you send good content frequently, it can help enhance brand recall and engagement, enrich subscriber relations, build brand loyalty, and drive conversions. However, on the flip side, over-sending has the following cons: 

Overwhelm subscribers: Incessantly pounding your subscribers with email marketing may overwhelm them. This could result in a drop in engagement and eventually lead them to unsubscribe from your emails.

Get reported as spam: Sending promotional or sales-related emails all too frequently can make your subscribers report you as spam, thus affecting your brand’s reputation.

Email Cadence Data Overview

Every marketer wants to know what’s a “good” email cadence for their brand. Analytics helps identify suitable metrics for maintaining  it. 

While there is no magic number for the cadence of your brand, studies indicate that excessive email frequency resulted in a significant amount of unsubscribes.

We have compiled data from four well-known platforms to give you an idea of what a good cadence looks like:

Mailchimp reported that the average open rate observed across all industries examined stood at 21.33%. This indicates the general level where a brand has a good email cadence and frequency, which keeps subscribers engaged.

MailerLite studies reveal that even though emails sent multiple times a week tend to have a lower open rate than emails sent every month or less, the difference is not much. As such, the pros of more email could outweigh the cons of a slightly lesser open rate in some cases.

Similarly, its data indicated that though emails sent 2 – 3 times had the lowest click-to-open rate (CTOR), it was only 0.56% lower than the sending frequency with the highest click-through rate (4 – 5 times per week)

According to Omnisend, which caters to SME e-commerce businesses, the smaller brands having 5,000+ subscribers send email campaigns 2-7 times monthly. In contrast, the bigger brands with 50,000+ subscribers send emails daily or twice per week.

Campaign Monitor’s data indicates that every two weeks is the “ideal spot” for getting the most subscribers to see your emails without list burn. At the same time, it’s essential to test and discover what suits you best. Furthermore, its studies also indicated an average open rate of 21.5% across all industries. 

How Often Should You Send Out Marketing Emails?

How often you should send out marketing emaills

Studies conducted by a leading cloud-based business analytics platform revealed the following:

Once A Week

Most businesses send weekly marketing emails to their subscribers. This is the level that keeps people engaged and updated without feeling overwhelmed. 

At the same time, it’s noteworthy that while weekly emails may suit many businesses, they may not be suitable for your brand. Testing is an effective way to understand how your users respond to different frequencies of emails.

Multiple Times Per Week

This approach suits brands looking to nurture long-term relationships with their audiences. For instance, some companies send their weekly newsletter and other weekly emails targeted at different audience segments. 

Fortnightly

In some cases, subscribers take time off once in two weeks to go through the marketing newsletters they receive. Interestingly, this frequency is ideal for B2B companies.

Monthly

Sending your marketing emails once a month is ideal when you want to avoid cluttering your receiver’s inbox to the point where they unsubscribe.

Here again, it depends on the target audience. Where receiver groups receive tons of emails from the competition and others (for example, developers), they are highly sensitive to spam. Therefore compiling all the content and updates in a single email while communicating with the technical audience on a monthly or bi-monthly basis is advisable.

Multiple Times A Month

Your emailing frequency will likely need to be adapted to changing circumstances. 

For example, if you’re selling seasonal products, your cadence will differ during slow and peak seasons to enable good recall without being intrusive. While you may send one email in five weeks during the low season to build excitement and facilitate creating wishlists, you may need to send one email per week during peak season.

The Ideal Time And Days To Send Your Marketing Emails 

As mentioned earlier in this piece, there’s no magic formula for an appropriate time to send your marketing emails. Nonetheless, studies by a number of leading software platforms reveal that:

  • Emails sent out on weekdays – Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays receive the highest engagement.
  • Marketing emails sent between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Tuesday get maximum engagement. This is followed by emails sent on Mondays and Wednesdays during the same period.
  • People are relatively inactive over weekends, so Saturdays and Sundays are best avoided for sending marketing emails. Marketing emails send on these days experience the lowest open and click-through rates.

Essential Metrics To Enable You To Determine A Suitable Email Cadence

While you may have followed all the best practices when implementing your email campaign, the best way to understand how it is s performing is by studying your subscriber’s email activities. The following metrics help in assessing your email marketing performance and determining a suitable email cadence:

Open rates

These indicate when recipients open your emails. Open rates are the first to be affected by email frequency. Generally, a very high email frequency overwhelms subscribers leading to a drop in open rates. Reducing the frequency of your emails will likely result in better open rates and a good cadence.

Click-through rates

It helps you learn when your emails receive maximum clicks. Notably, if you’re unsure which email frequency is ideal for your industry and product, implement different email frequencies and analyze which results in the best conversion outcomes. The one with the best work indicates a good cadence.

Unsubscribe rates

Unsubscribes often occur when subscribers get saturated with your emails. If your unsubscribe rate increases, you may need to reduce your email frequency to achieve a good cadence.

Conversion rates

If you’re confident about the email content, it’s likely that high unsubscribe rates – due to high email frequency – may be slowing down conversion. Recalibrating the frequency will help maintain a good cadence and drive conversions.

Summary

Email cadence facilitates proper planning, helps you to organize your sending frequency, and consistently provides your readers something to look forward to from your brand.

To begin with, you must have rich customer insights to determine the best email cadence for your business. Getting your cadence right may take up some trial and error run, but with some practice, you can cut through. 

If you’d like professional help to achieve a suitable cadence quickly and efficiently then check our email marketing management services. As a full-service email marketing agency that caters to the email marketing needs of a wide range of businesses, you’re assured of superior, cutting-edge service and support.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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