To Send or Not to Send, Frequency is the Question

By OctaneGo, June 8, 2011 | Tips & Resources

Its Monday morning as I write this blog, 7 AM to be precise. I have received quite a lot of emails last night, as is the norm and the LED on myBlackberry shows it. So I skim through to see how many of them I wish to read. It’s the usual stuff that I normally receive, Facebook page updates, XYZ commented on your wall post/pic, LinkedIn network updates, a random email from Geni, etc. I have become an expert at hitting the delete button without caring to read even the subject of the mail. But there is one mail from an American motorcycle brand that I decide to read. I don’t get too many emails from them but when I do I read most of them. After all I was the one who opted in in the first place. But on the other hand, there is an airline company who keeps bombarding me with mails every 3-4 days telling me about great airfares, packages, miles, etc. I couldn’t care less. DELETE.

If you haven’t figured out by now, this blog is regarding the “Frequency” of your email marketing. To send or not to send, but how often is the question. Too often (list fatigue) and too less (list attrition) both are dangerous scenarios for an email marketer. Ultimately, the frequency depends on the business model. The marketer will not hesitate to send out a billion emails a month if asked to do so by a client, but common sense needs to prevail. A wise ESP (like Octane) will advise you regarding how often the communication should take place depending upon your business requirements.

So let’s take a look at the different frequency modes a company can use (these apply to both emails and SMS updates/marketing):

Minute-by-minute: makes sense to shoot out an SMS only if your company is in the sports industry. Don’t even think of adopting this frequency otherwise, especially only if you customer has himself decided to opt for the service. But once the customer has been roped in, deliver extremely accurate and timely updates

Hourly: this form would work if your company deals in the stock market. Help make your clients richer by keeping them in sync with what is happening at Wall Street. Again do so only if you have the customer’s consent.

Daily: Coming to a slightly more common mode that has been made relevant thanks to bulk discount/shopping companies such as Snapdeal and Groupon. The challenge is to have a deal for every day of the month and make sure it reaches the customer’s inbox and is not only read but also translates into decent sales.

Weekly: probably the most practical solution out of all solutions mentioned here. Doesn’t apply specifically to any line of business, rather is adopted my most types of businesses. It feels nice to receive (albeit sometimes) a weekly update from your favorite electronics store regarding new product launches and discounts, etc. It helps maintain constant interaction with a customer without troubling him too much.

Monthly: A lot like weekly updates, but in a much more easier to digest form from the customer’s point of view. Most importantly the contact remains intact.

Quarterly: You would like to use this medium to mainly let your customers know about seasonal discounts, promotions or sales. It does bring in a gap in communication between your business and the consumer

Semi-Annually:By adopting this technique you would seem like a fair weather friend. Not advisable unless your business model cannot seem to adopt any other form.

Annually:This must be a joke. What is your ESP thinking? Seriously?


Marketers rely on sustained periodic communications to deliver marketing efficacy. It is interesting to note that 34% of marketers in India are using this platform for their daily communications with their audience. Our experience shows that the frequency of customer communication should be at least once a quarter and never more than once a day. An optimal frequency can lead to higher response rates and conversions.

As a note of caution, increasing the frequency without permission of receiver can potentially run the risks of increased spam complaints, ‘unsubscribes’ and list fatigue. Short-term response boosts can at times be at the cost of brand erosion and a long-term loss of engagement. The daily frequency is being seen as one of the major contributors towards the core issue of message deliverability.

As discussed, an ecommerce website with daily deals will send out emails daily and an e-zine will send it on monthly basis. So again if everything boils down to the line of business, why should companies even bother about frequency? Well for starters, if you think your list is shrinking you may want to re-think your email marketing strategy. This may be due to excessive emails that your company may be sending out or too little to even leave an impression in the consumer’s mind and even little to make a dent in his wallet.If you bombard your subscribers you will lose the loyalty factor, but if you fail to keep in touch, you shall be alienated.

Also as a marketer, you should least be bothered about how many opens or reads your mails get. Unless they don’t convert into leads, they are meaningless. Realign you marketing goals if that is the case.

So the main idea is to find the perfect balance between frequency and privacy, neither too much nor too little. The maximum you could do is to just go over the optimum tipping point and make your presence felt. We at Octane know how to do exactly that and suggest you give us a try and let us show you how it is done.

(With inputs from Octane Research-Annual India eMarketing Report 2011

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