Are you sending your subscribers too many emails? While the answer to that question depends in large part on the value your subscribers receive from your emails, it’s also impacted by the frequency of your competitors’ emails. Being terribly out of line with the industry norm may make users think you’re “spamming” them with too many emails -- and lead to unsubscribes.
With that in mind, I looked at the frequency of 92 major retailers tracked via my RetailEmailBlogspot during the 16 weeks ended May 25. I found that on average those retailers sent 1.7 emails per week during that period, and that nearly 10% sent more than twice as many emails as the group average.
In light of my column last week about deal-a-day email programs, it’s interesting to note that Spiegel, Bluefly and Neiman Marcus sent at least five emails per week on average during the period -- with Neiman actually sending more than one per day, averaging 7.2 emails per week. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of emails.
At the Email Insider Summit earlier this month, Jupiter Research’s David Daniels called this “branding blunt-force trauma” -- beating subscribers over the head with your messages. Others at the conference wisely pointed out that while higher frequencies may generate more revenue in the short term, they can actually diminish returns when list turnover and additional production costs are taken into account. While every marketer must test and determine for themselves the ideal cadence for their program, I would bet that your ideal is less than twice the industry average frequency, not more.
At the other end of the spectrum, nearly 20% of the retailers that I looked at sent less than half the group average of emails per week. AbeBooks, Blue Nile, RitzCamera, Reebok and Snap-on didn’t even send an email every other week on average. For retailers in this lower fifth of the frequency range, there’s probably an opportunity to increase their cadence a little.