In search of the optimal send frequency

4 minute read

An interesting article recently concluded that 6 (actually 6.21) emails per week is the sweet spot send frequency for optimum reader response. So is this right for you?


The article makes some very valid points – that send frequency is an important factor in performance, that read rate typically varies inversely with send frequency and that simply repeating the same thing more often doesn’t make it more appealing – in fact probably the opposite. All true.

Although based on a relatively large number of emails and backed by some valid calculation the conclusions are based on a small group of companies in a specific sector – clothing retail. Again, the article rightly points out that these findings will not necessarily transfer and shouldn’t be applied as a benchmark strategy to other brands or sectors or non-transactional type of campaigns.

I think there are 2 important areas which need to be addressed here.

Firstly, the whole scenario seems focused on what is right for the sender not necessarily the receiver. The optimum frequency has a lot to do with the expectation of the receiver when they give their permission to be contacted (to be fair, the article does mention this). If they are expecting to receive a campaign every day (or even every hour as is sometimes a valid case) then this will be close to the frequency which will be most effective for their needs. Email marketing works best as a long-term mutually beneficial relationship and the permission process is the start of establishing this trust. Anticipating a monthly newsletter but receiving a daily promotion is an abuse of this trust and is likely to end badly.

Secondly, timing and relevance are key factors in email engagement. Think about the campaigns you receive and how you select which to engage with and it’s probably those that deliver the right information at the right time, for you as an individual. Sending every day in the hope that the timing is more likely to be right might work on some levels but is certainly not an optimised strategy. Similarly sending everything to everybody, again in the hope that something will stick might work as a numbers game, but it’s not very customer friendly and not in the spirit of permission marketing as we know it.

Marketing automation and selective targeting have a large part to play here. Automated campaigns typically have elevated response rates because they are responding to a specific need (action) taken by the customer at a specific time. Combine this with personally targeted content, based on previously gained insight as to your reader’s purchases, needs and preferences and you have a really powerful engagement strategy. Your messages will be both relevant and timely. In many ways this is the sweet spot.

So ‘the’ (specifically ‘your’, and even more specifically that of each of your audience) optimum send frequency is equally about the expectation you set at the outset and how you manage (and automate where required) timely, relevant information for each of your subscribers – as individuals.

So is 6.21 emails per week the optimum send frequency and if not, then what is? To ask the question is in some ways missing the point. Optimal send frequency is not a constant. It’s not even a number – it’s an approach.

Here’s a link to the original article. See what you think.