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How often should you send e-mail marketing messages?

April 25, 2001
Spam, viral marketing that turns against you, permission marketing misunderstood by your users…even the most serious Web sites happen to make many marketing mistakes.

E-mail marketers often fall into the trap of sending out too many frequent commercial communications.

And yet, a site might comply with the rules of permission e-mail in the strictest way (e-mails sent according to the frequency selected by customers themselves), and still see its unsubscribe rate increase.

We could be tempted to think that when a user chooses to register to a mailing list of his own accord, after he selected the frequency of mailings that best suited him, everything should go smoothly.

And yet, reality proves very different.

This way of seeing things implies that your users are sufficiently mature and have enough elements to decide by themselves which is the best frequency to receive your e-mail marketing messages.

Not only can this maturity happen to be missing, but what's more, the interest a user might have for a given subject often proves to last only a limited time. What's more, as users receive more and more messages in their mailboxes, even though you might not be personally responsible, they might be tempted to unsubscribe, even though they deliberately chose to register in the first time.

The most typical example can be seen in the eTourism sector (see to that matter my eTourismnewsletter, a Web site that proves totally dedicated to such problematics). People who work in this sector are often tempted to hurl promotional e-mails at their potential customers.

Web sites should try and find out who their visitors really are: are they bargain hunters or "normal" customers?


The bargain hunter, as he is always on the lookout for good bargains on the Internet, will not take offence if he receives your good deals nearly everyday. On the other hand, the "normal" customer will hardly bear to receive your e-mails more than once a week.

Part of the answer can be found in a site's target customer but also in its ability to segment it in order to present the said target customer with a communication that matches its real needs.

What's more, one should also keep in mind the notion of real added value that an e-mail can bring to an Internet user.

There is no doubt that should this added-value decrease as the user who gets it no longer proves very interested in your products or else because the content of the message itself has lost some of its quality, the user will automatically unsubscribe.

The FloNetwork company, specialised in e-mail marketing, just conducted a survey to find out what permission marketing really meant in terms of e-mails.

This study illustrates this problem of e-mail frequency in a general way and should give you a better understanding of the limits of what a customer or a prospect customer can tolerate.

According to this study, American respondents (who are able to choose the frequency of their e-mails according to the rules of permission marketing), would like to receive an e-mail:

  • Daily: 12%.
  • A couple of times a week: 18%.
  • Once a week: 31%.
  • Every other week: 10%.
  • Once a month: 18%.
  • Less than once a month: 6%.
  • Don't know: 5%.

As you can see, the best-tolerated frequency proves to be once a week. Incidentally, this happens to be the frequency ecommerce Web sites most commonly use.

It goes without saying that these elements of reflection are given for information only and depend on who your customer really are but also the sector of activity you're in.

What appears clear is that it is becoming both harder and more costly to customize visitors and, as a result, it would be a pity to loose such favoured contact only because you overdid it on the marketing point of view.

Source : Emarketer




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