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Gini Dietrich

How Often Should I Send Email Newsletters?

By: Gini Dietrich | December 1, 2011 | 
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It’s Facebook question of the week time (clap, clap, clap)!

I’ve really been thinking about what to do with these videos. I mentioned it in a podcast I did with Joe Hackman yesterday and, in the chat room, everyone suggested I keep doing them.

Alright, “everyone” might be a slight exaggeration. It was Nancy Davis and Jason Konopinski, so it wasn’t everyone. But they both said, “Don’t stop!”

So I’m thinking about these videos and how to elevate them for next year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see or not see, for that matter.

And on to today’s question.

It comes from Dallas Kincaid. Dallas and I “met” on Twitter, quickly became Facebook friends, and is one of the most sarcastic and inappropriate friends I have. And that makes him hilarious to me. For those of you who have experienced him on my wall, you know what I’m talking about.

He is the founder and operations manager of Xecunet, a company in Baltimore that does Internet, voice over IP, server hosting, and all that IT stuff that is necessary but no one understands.

He asks:

How often should I be sending email newsletters to my customers? I want to make sure I’m keeping my brand familiar without them feeling it’s spam.

They’re thinking about an email marketing campaign for 2012 and want to be sure they’re doing it right.

I answer his question in the video below (which you can watch by clicking here, if you can’t see it in your RSS feed).

Now it’s your turn. What do you advise Dallas?

And don’t forget! If you have a question for us, head over to Facebook and leave it on the wall there. If you have ideas for elevating this video series, I’d love to hear them!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

110 comments
veroach
veroach

The reality depends on the quality of the content. Once a month seems to be the norm, but that's because most newsletters are full of nothing buy promotions.  Including the content a user actually wants, allows one to not only increase frequency, but it also will drive much higher engagement.

breannakatelynn
breannakatelynn

I had always been of the opinion that once a month was a good, reasonable number. When I designed and mailed newsletters for a local law firm, we realized soon on that while we wanted to be informative (and keep a frequent connection with clientele), the very last thing we wanted to do was to be an irritating presence in their inbox. Great point about Twitter.

peterworsley
peterworsley

I send out an emailed newsletter when ever I have something interesting to report about my art activities. It works out to be about once a month. I have a list of about 300 opted in followers. In addition for hot news i use my twitter account with about 50 followers. Works for me.

JoeManna
JoeManna

If it looks or feels like spam, it is.

I recommend staying in contact at least once every other month, but not more than twice a month. Always depends on the expectations. My best recommendation is to send your list a poll and let them choose how often they want to hear from you.

If it's split evenly, have a "bi-monthly digest" and a "monthly tip" (or so).

I have more email tips contained in this presentation I did not too long ago: http://www.slideshare.net/JoeManna/email-marketing-essentials-tips-to-do-email-marketing-right-podcampaz-2011

Hit me up if you have any questions. :)

Joe

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

We experimented with sending two emails per week to a small group of Correctnicity users. One early Monday to draw attention to questions closing and another at the end of the week to review what did/didn't. The idea was that it would encourage users to stay connected to the content and change their predictions as circumstances dictated. Those email got reported as spam. We don't do that anymore.

Latest blog post: An Attitude of Gratitude

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

Gini I have an idea. Once a week do a Google+ hangout or Live Video Chat where you answer questions right then?!

But I like your format now so I think it's fine to keep it the way it is!

Maranda
Maranda

We typically send our ours once a month - when we have something that is worth sending. @ginidietrich in your previous suggestion about days of the week, I can tell you that I don't have the stats in front of me, but we seem to have a higher opening rate when we send ours out towards the end of the week. (Th/Friday) People are just looking for ways to pass the time by the end of the week (those lucky people!) and are getting less internal emails so our notification doesn't get buried.

We also have a 2 part newsletter - one part case study & one part important tips for our customers. The full case study is available on the website.

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight

If it's a newsletter of someone I enjoy reading I'd say bi-monthly - if i get something weekly and get busy it just piles up in my email and we know how long it takes me to read then! It's usally old news by the time I get some downtime to catch up on reading. I will say the short newsletters get my attention - they are easy to read and delete or save whatever the case may be. That's my two cents.

NancyD68
NancyD68

I am still thinking about "if you have had success doing it more than once a week let us know" isn't that what we have boyfriends/husbands for? :)

No really, even stores that I like get too much with emailing and then I have to unsubscribe and then to be really spammy the message says 'are you sure you want to unsubscribe?" Yes! and then you get a "sorry to see you go" email!

I wouldn't have left if you didn't spam me all of the time! Jerk.

manamica
manamica

We did a year-long test to figure this out. We sent over 10 million emails, segmented into 3 frequency groups - 1 that got 1 email per month, one that got 1 email per week and 1 that got 1 email every 3 days (poor test subjects). And then segmented again based on their prior email engagement level (based on when they last opened an email). We evaluated results based on the value we got from clicks on the email (it requires that you know what the value of a visit to your website is). We got the most value/revenue from the weekly emails. However there were differences in the different email engagement groups. People who had opened our emails at least once per quarter (prior to the test) had a higher propensity to interact with the more frequent emails. People who had opened our emails less than twice per year, didn't click through as much. So at the conclusion of the test we decided we were going to get the best value if we emailed weekly to those who click on an email at least once in 3 months and monthly to those who click 1 time per 6 month period and we decided to stop emailing those who never clicked. Also do not fear the unsubscribes. It's natural list clean-up. You should encourage unsubscribes because emailing people who don't want to hear from you is just a waste of your marketing dollars.

MelissaBreau
MelissaBreau

@jasonkonopinski I wonder if it was also influenced at all by the days you were sending them—while it totally makes since in the context you mention, normally the best days for newsletters are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Monday most people have too much to catch up on from the weekend and they are quicker to hit delete, spam, etc. and on Friday's most people are in a rush to get out of the office and, again, are more likely to hit delete/spam.

When I was working at a magazine company, the best open rate results we got were Wed. newsletters, around 11am.

lauraclick
lauraclick

@jennimacdonald Love this idea. In fact, that's something I'm planning on doing in 2012. Oops! The secret is out!

jonbuscall
jonbuscall

@manamica On a micro level I've found something similar. Monthly emails got missed, but weekly emails got opened at a much higher rate. Even though the content was pretty much the same.

Also found that emails on Sunday and made to look like plain text where the most successful.

To get the best click through I found that one link per post was the best approach and that the link should come in the middle of the page.

Latest blog post: Jon Buscall

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

@manamica WOW!!! that is quite the valuable and awesome study. I'd just like to chime in and echo that sentiment. :)

Latest blog post: About Us

JoeManna
JoeManna

@manamica You nailed it. Thanks for explaining this along with the results.

I have to agree with you on the unsubscribes. I've seen a few people unsubscribe and spam complaints drop to near-nothing when you encourage people to opt-out (out of about 8000 people.)

Just like how open rates and CTRs are measured, so should the unsubs and spam complaints to discover any dark-spots or risks in your list. Not pissing people off is a good idea and will help you become an even better marketer.

Thanks again for sharing this. :)

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

@manamica If I could like your comments X10 I would. Never Fear the Unsubscribes... it's a great title for a post that I now feel compelled to write.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@manamica You're so smart. And now I want to spend every waking moment in December to prep this to start in January. Didn't we have some deal we wouldn't do this?!?

JoeManna
JoeManna

@ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski If it was me, it would be too many emails. Even while working in the email marketing space, if I hear from someone more than once a week, I can become irritated. Thus, the report spam button.

People should be expecting your emails. Not you expecting them to read them. ;-)

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

@lauraclickim excited to learn about your idea. Please send me a link in the future.

blfarris
blfarris

@ginidietrich@jennimacdonald I've used Screenflow to "tape" hangouts and then post to YouTube. Best of both worlds. (The screenflow can be edited down to make it more interesting...

manamica
manamica

@jonbuscall very cool. Thanks for sharing. I agree 110% After all it's all math. If you get 10 clicks with each newsletter, if you send 1 per month you get 10, if you send 4 per month you may only get 6 clicks per newsletter but 24 per month. And then you can focus on bringing it back up to 10 per newsletter... Our clients always ask for weekly or bi-weekly data and I am not a fan of that. If we look too narrowly we will miss the real results. I like the "lifecycle" approach - what do our customers do with our emails over a period of time?

manamica
manamica

@Lisa Gerber thanks Lisa! I was very fortunate to be able to work with a very large data set. That kind of testing is not possible small scale.

manamica
manamica

@JoeManna absolutely! I'd much rather they unsubscribe than hit the spam button. Gosh I hate the spam action. It can be really damaging to the future visibility of the email in the inbox.

KenMueller
KenMueller

@JoeManna@manamica A key to a lot of this is setting expectations up front. Always make it opt-in, and let people know what to expect in terms of content and frequency. If you tell them they will be getting an email from you every week (and not just in the small print) it helps keep people out who don't want that much to begin with.

Latest blog post: Social Media. Yawn.

manamica
manamica

@AmyMccTobin thanks :). I'd love to read your post! I wrote a post a while back "5 Reasons to Love Email Unsubscribes." @ginidietrich if your audience would be interested, I'd be happy to submit a revised version to spinsucks.

KenMueller
KenMueller

@AmyMccTobin@manamica It's the same with unlikes on Facebook or unfollows on Twitter. Unless you suddenly get an inordinate amount, and see a spike of unsubs in your analytics, don't sweat it. It just means those people weren't really interested in the first place. And if you use a contest to get likes on FB or Twitter, you'll probably see a lot of unsubs after that once the contest is over. that's ok. Those people were just there to win, not be your fan. That's why numbers are so deceptive, and programs that guarantee to get you a certain # of fans are dumb.

Latest blog post: Social Media. Yawn.

manamica
manamica

@ginidietrich sorry? I'll hold off all ideas until Jan ;p. I think what I meant to say, but instead geeked off on the test itself, my advice is to test, test, test :)

KenMueller
KenMueller

@JoeManna@ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski More often than not, that is a factor of host and you need to contact them to have you whitelisted. Some hosts have spammy reputations based on what others they host. Had that problem in a previous job with a non-profit. Had to go through a process to get whitelisted and it took awhile.

Latest blog post: Social Media. Yawn.

manamica
manamica

@KenMueller you are making a fantastic point. The new model of opt-in gives frequency options. Not sure if you've seen that "how frequently do you wan to receive email from us." The only challenge with that is that until they've seen your content how will they know how frequently? So I've been thinking of testing a "resubscribe feature." To give people the option to change to a different frequency if they want to... What do you think? @JoeManna