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The Ideal Email Cadence for Your Audience

Evi Katsoulieri

Product Manager @ AdRoll

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Marketing teams are continually searching for the perfect email cadence. Since audiences and industries vary, and consumers continue to adjust their expectations and preferences, this is a common question without a single definitive answer. However, it’s important to analyze because email workflows that aren’t optimized can miss opportunities to convert more, or even offend recipients. 

If you send too many emails too quickly, your list and most internet service providers (ISPs) are more likely to consider your emails as spam. This negatively impacts your standing with email clients and also runs the risk of damaging your brand’s reputation. 

Alternatively, if you don’t send emails frequently enough, your brand won’t remain top-of-mind with your audience. They may unsubscribe, or even worse — assume your emails are spam. Once you lose a lead to an unsubscribe or a spam report, it’s very difficult to get them back. 

Here are some email cadence best practices to consider when finding the schedule that’s right for your brand and audience.

Tailor Emails to Subscriber Activity

Beyond mass emails like newsletters, your email workflows will also contain emails that are specific to user activity. For example, cart abandonment emails, thank you emails, and reactivation emails for subscribers who have gone silent. To reach people at the right time and with the right message, tailor your communication to different segments and the activity of your subscribers. These types of messages lead to 3 - 5x times higher engagement rates and 10x better email conversions

Send One to Two Emails per Week to Keep Your Audience Engaged

When looking at click rates for bulk emails, sending between four and eight emails continues to be ideal — or, one to two emails per week. However, sending less frequently results in a similar drop in performance as sending more often. So, it’s essential to focus on keeping your audience engaged. If you lose their interest, they’ll likely fail to click through to your site in future emails. But, always resist the temptation to send daily emails as it’ll annoy your audience, and your messages may find themselves in the spam folder.

Send Between Four to Eight Bulk Emails per Month

The typical merchant is only willing to send between one and four bulk emails per month to their subscribers. However, based on open rates for broadcasts, optimal results are achieved when companies send between four and eight emails per month

Test this monthly limit and see how it affects your audience’s open and click rates. But, start slow to avoid scaring off subscribers early on. It’s incredibly challenging to get them back once they unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. 

Keep Your Email Volume Consistent 

If you send a hundred emails one day and 10,000 emails the next, your ISP may flag you for a massive spam attempt. By breaking up your sending volumes, you can achieve a consistent level and remain clear of ISP red flags. If you need to send a large number of emails through a new account, build up the list gradually. Email workflow automation can help to streamline the sending process and ensure quality content reaches the right audience at the optimal times.

Try Sending Emails at “Off” Times

It’s important to think about your recipients’ experiences. Most companies that send emails will send at a time that feels clean or whole, like 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and so on. Try sending your emails at 11:11 a.m. or 12:37 p.m. instead to arrive before/after other bulk emails. If your email is educational, you can also experiment with off business hours such as during the weekend or in the afternoon. 

Your Audience Will Reveal the Ideal Email Cadence

The frequency of emails suggested here is a terrific starting point for finding the ideal balance for your recipients. However, remember that your audience is unique. Pay close attention to the data — open, click, conversion, and spam rates—and make adjustments as needed to optimize your results. If you listen, your audience will tell you what content, times, and cadence they prefer. To begin, focus on a consistency that aligns with your customers’ buying cycle and limit emails to those of high quality. Don’t just create emails to hit a target quantity.

A/B Test to Optimize

The frequency and quantity of your emails aren’t the only factors contributing to the success of your campaigns. Employ A/B testing to determine the types of CTAs, subject lines, personalization, colors, and images that your audience enjoys best. These factors will affect the open and click rates. So, ensure you optimize them to improve your data and results.

Pro tip: Create a document where you’ll write down the date your A/B or multivariate experiment started, its goal, and how you'll assess if it’s successful. That'll help you gather insights about your performance and enjoy even more results with your marketing programs.

Focus on Your VIPs 

VIP recipients are those that always open and click your emails. They may even share your content with their networks. Reward these recipients from time to time with special offers to maintain their interest and help. You can also test new ideas with this audience, like new CTA options

You may even want to survey them to see how you can improve the email program —  whether they find value to your emails and what type of content they’d like more of. This can be great feedback for your whole marketing team. Comments from your customers may unveil new blog topics or even trigger ideas for promotions and campaigns. Highlight your strengths and reward them with special discounts and other offers for participating.

Regularly Clean Your List

Many recipients will ignore emails forever instead of unsubscribing. These recipients aren’t interested and are likely never going to be. 30% of subscribers also change their email addresses each year. If recipients don’t interact with your emails for more than six months, remove them from your lists. Data from these individuals will continue to negatively impact your results and also impact your standing with your email service provider. Clean your lists each quarter to make sure you’re on good standing with your email marketing account and ISP.

Always Deliver Value

Don’t forget that cadence isn’t everything. Continue to provide value to your audience, regardless of whether you send one or two emails per week. Ultimately, if your emails are of interest, you’ll see stronger engagement.

This list of email cadence best practices will help you get started with a healthy campaign strategy. As you shape your campaign to your audience, remember to focus on delivering value and information at a pace and in a way that follows your buyer’s journey. Continue to analyze, optimize, and revise until you find the ideal email cadence and structure for your specific audience.

Now that you've got your email cadence down, learn how to set up an unforgettable onboarding series

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