Email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing channels for ecommerce brands. By building an engaged subscriber list and sending relevant, timely messages, email allows you to promote new products, run targeted promotions, and re-engage past customers – all with impressive returns.
However, determining the right email frequency can be tricky. Send too little and you might risk hurting sales and engagement. Send too often and subscribers may unsubscribe to avoid spam, negating the work you’ve put into list growth. With inboxes more crowded than ever, the optimal email cadence is a moving target that requires testing and adaptation over time.
In this post, we’ll explore factors to consider when setting your email frequency. We’ll look at benchmarks from top retailers, analyze the relationship between frequency and key metrics, and provide recommendations on testing different approaches. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of maximizing open rates, click-throughs and revenue without annoying your subscribers.
Email Frequency Factors to Consider
When determining how often to send emails, the following variables should guide your decision:
- Product Category – Frequency needs vary significantly by industry. Grocery/consumables may warrant weekly emails while fashion could space messages every 2-3 weeks.
- Subscriber Preferences – Conduct surveys to understand how engaged subscribers prefer to receive communications – daily, weekly or less often. Their feedback should shape your strategy.
- Competitor Benchmarks – Analyze top competitors in your category to see typical cadences. Matching or slightly exceeding industry standards helps emails feel timely versus intrusive.
- List Maturity – New lists may need weekly nurturing to build trust/familiarity. Mature lists of loyal customers can likely tolerate less frequent, targeted messages.
- Campaign Goals – Promotional emails could go out weekly/bi-weekly while informative content suits a monthly schedule. Match cadence to objective.
- Open/Click Rates – Frequent testing is needed as open rates tend to decline with additional sends. Track this metric closely to avoid over-communicating.
- Unsubscribe Rates – Spikes here indicate the frequency may be too high. Too many unsubscribes at once may damage lists, so avoid overwhelming your subscribers.
- Revenue Lift – Ultimately, frequency should maximize sales. Test schedules that produce the best ROI through increased cart/checkout activity.
By considering these factors unique to your business needs, you can establish a cadence optimized for engagement and results. Let’s explore some benchmarks.
Email Frequency Benchmarks
To get a sense of typical email schedules, we analyzed top retailers across various categories:
- Grocery/Consumables: eg. Amazon Subscribe & Save, Walmart Groceries – Weekly emails.
- Home Goods: eg. Wayfair, Home Depot – Bi-weekly to monthly emails focused on new items.
- Clothing: eg. Nike, American Eagle – 1-2 emails per week with deals and new collections.
- Consumer Electronics: eg. Best Buy, Newegg – Weekly deal emails plus monthly newsletters.
- Office Supplies: eg. Staples, Office Depot – Weekly emails highlighting top products.
- Beauty/Skincare: eg. Sephora, Ulta – 1-2 emails per week showcasing new items.
- Books/Media: eg. Amazon, Barnes & Noble – 2-3 emails per week promoting new releases.
As you can see, weekly appears to be the sweet spot for most retailers, especially those selling consumables or perishable goods. Frequency then tapers for less time-sensitive categories. These benchmarks provide a useful starting point for testing.
Testing Different Email Frequencies
To truly optimize your email campaigns, split testing is essential. Continually testing different variables like frequency, content, customization and promotions will reveal the optimal strategy over time. A/B split tests should run for 6-8 weeks minimum before analyzing results.
Analyzing Test Results
When evaluating frequency test outcomes, focus on these key metrics:
- Open Rates – Higher is better, but declines may indicate over-communication.
- Click-Through Rates – Engagement should remain consistent or improve.
- Unsubscribe Rates – Watch for spikes, which could suggest emails are too frequent.
- Revenue per Subscriber – Frequency that boosts cart/purchase rates wins.
- Repeat Purchase Rates – Engaged subscribers should purchase more often.
Look for statistically significant improvements rather than marginal gains. Well-performing groups that see higher engagement, fewer unsubscribes, and increased revenue should inform your strategy.
Be sure to test frequency changes for several months before making permanent adjustments. Ongoing A/B testing ensures you continuously optimize this critical marketing channel over time.
As you can see, determining the optimal email frequency takes ongoing testing and adaptation over time. Factors like your subscriber preferences, list maturity, campaign goals, and industry standards all provide a useful starting point. But ultimately, the schedule that maximizes engagement metrics like open rates and click-throughs, while minimizing unsubscribes and boosting revenue, is what should guide your strategy. Data-driven optimization through split testing will uncover the best practices uniquely suited to your brand over the long run.
Ready to get started with a customized email marketing strategy for your brand? Schedule a consultation today!