How often and when to send marketing emails
We’re constantly asked two questions about email marketing: “How often should I send marketing emails?” and “When is the best time to send an email?”
Unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all for either question. What works for one shop isn’t necessarily the solution for another.
Yet there are best practices when it comes to figuring out the right email cadence and timing for your business. We’ve found that self-reflection and experimentation make for a great roadmap.
Four factors for considering email frequency
The first step toward determining how often to send emails is to thoughtfully consider four factors. Take these into account:
You're gung-ho about kicking off your email program. You decide two messages per week is the right amount.
Wait one minute. Is it logistically possible based on your workload? Might that burn you out? And do you even have enough content to keep up with that schedule? (More on content in just a moment.)
Consistency is vital to the success of any email marketing program. It doesn’t bode well for your brand if subscribers receive a flurry of emails, and then hear nothing from you for a while.
It’s OK if you can only manage once or twice a month, as long as it’s consistent.
Like it or not, we live in a fast-paced world that demands a lot from ecommerce businesses. If you’ve got a marketing lead on staff who can whip out fantastic emails in minimal time, then great.
But it’s likely you’re strapped for resources, or a low skill level means that building out a message takes forever. Pumping out more than one message per week — if that — is not the best use of time. Not to mention, unrealistic expectations may trample motivation over time and ultimately squash consistency.
So, honestly assess how quickly you can build a message. Ideally, you want to create in 45 minutes or less.
You need stuff to put in your messages. Since emails are a visual medium, imagery will guide your content development.
Do you have product shots on hand, as well as lifestyle images showing your products in use? Or are you in the position of creating as you go along?
Our tip: strive for efficiencies where possible. Dedicate time to produce and gather a big batch of visual elements. Quick access to a stock of photos and image elements will help you stay on top of your production process.
Along with visuals, what about content ideas in general? Think about how you can tie your products into seasonal and holiday happenings. Our 2022 Email Marketing Planning Guide is a great start.
If you have a plan with Seguno, then you’re paying a flat rate based on subscriber count and your monthly costs won’t vary.
But there may be other costs attached to your email marketing program. Do you pay an agency or freelance graphic designer to create your emails? Are you shelling out money for an app that supports your message?
If you use an email service provider other than Seguno, your plan’s pricing structure might fluctuate based on the number of emails sent, too.
OK, but how often should I send emails?
Contemplating consistency, speed, content and cost should produce a rough idea of what is feasible.
With that in mind, we recommend settling on one of three options:
- Send weekly
- Send bi-weekly
- Send monthly (kind of … we’ll explain later)
Let’s take a look at three hypothetical examples to understand how each option might make sense.
Sending emails once per week
Shirley and her shop are the ideal scenario and illustrate email marketing’s power.
First, she schedules two to four photo shoots per year. At any given time there is a stash of content that’s ready to go.
The shop includes a variety of products, which are featured in weekly emails. Shirley works hard on email list growth and is rewarded with an actively engaged audience. Click rates — the number of clicks to the website divided by the number of subscribers that were delivered the message — regularly hover around 3 to 4%.
Good email engagement leads to a strong return on investment. Email marketing produces 20% of her shop’s revenue and is the top-performing channel.
Sending emails bi-weekly
Bobby has several high-converting channels outside of email marketing. He spends a lot of time crafting paid Google and Instagram ads to market his limited number of products.
We’ll classify his email audience as semi-engaged. They don’t make as many purchases per email compared to other channels.
Because of his limited product line, Bobby has less to say than someone like Shirley. An every-other-week email suits him just fine.
Sending emails monthly
Chrissy has even fewer products to sell than Bobby. She’s relatively new to ecommerce and has a smallish list of subscribers. She doesn’t feel like she has a whole lot to promote, so an email per month is her initial strategy.
She creates just one email, but gets bang for her buck by sending it once more to those subscribers who didn’t open it the first time.
This is remailing, and Seguno makes it easy. Change your subject line and choose the date to resend. We suggest 14 days from the original.
That’s all it takes to appear a little more frequently in some inboxes. It’s a smidge of work in exchange for building consistency, which builds trust. People buy from brands they trust.
Risky email send tactics
Every brand is different. Each shop has its own capabilities and limitations. Still, we don’t typically endorse the following two tactics:
1. Sending emails multiple times a week
Big-box stores tend to do this. Smaller brands may feel the need to imitate.
A word to the wise: keep an eye on your engagement and unsubscribed rates if you follow this approach. We’ve seen plenty of shops whose rates slip when sending a few times a week.
If you insist on emailing at such a high rate, then you’ll want to devote energy to list growth to balance out the unsubscribes.
2. Sending emails when the mood strikes
Small shop owners have a lot going on. We get that email marketing is sometimes shoved aside for other priorities.
If you fall into this category of no rhyme or reason to your email marketing schedule, it’s time for a gut check.
Email is reliable. You’re utilizing your own data and are in full control, not beholden to the whims of a third party. For these reasons and more, Shopify recognizes that email is one of the most cost-effective and highest converting channels available.
It’s worth carving out time for it.
When is it best to send an email?
Our advice is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. You can probably make assumptions about their email routines.
Experiment with some different days and times based on those assumptions. Study which combinations have better engagement and those that don’t. Make adjustments and keep testing.
Our second-best suggestion is to test times that have successfully worked for us. All revolve around the standard weekly schedule of the “working stiffs”:
- Early morning. Hands down, this is No. 1. A lot of people habitually check their emails before the work grind begins. Schedule delivery between 6 and 8 a.m., or as late as 9. These folks are probably not bouncing much into their personal accounts once mid-morning hits.
- Lunch. A mid-day work break provides ample time for scrolling through email messages.
- Mid-afternoon. By this, we mean the traditional end-of-workday for the 9-5 set. Checking personal messages might be the last thing they do before logging off.
- Later evening. Evening hours are consumed by off-line engagements for many, whether it’s preparing and eating dinner or tending to family obligations. Yet a lot are multi-tasking, picking up their phones within the mix. Reach these busy-bodies between 6 and 9 p.m.
One extra note about early-morning emails. We’ve been asked if sending a message late the night before — say 10 p.m. — is just as good as grabbing attention with a 7 a.m. delivery. You can try. But know that you’re going to be further down in the inbox queue.
As for day of the week? We see Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays performing well overall.
That’s not to say other days don’t have their merits. Think of an alcoholic drink delivery service. Our guess is that they’re killing it on Fridays and Saturdays.
The bottom line
If you remember just one thing from our advice, let it be the concept of consistency.
It’s common sense, really. Brands that send regularly are more likely to drive revenue from email marketing than those that don’t. Two to four sends per month is the goal.
Start by sending every other week. Depend on remailing if designing two emails per month is too much.
You’ll find that the jump to once-a-week email production isn’t so tough once you get going. The occasional extra email around big ecommerce events like Black Friday and Valentine’s Day won’t intimidate, either.
Here’s one more tip for those needing ideas to get the juices flowing: download our 2022 Email Marketing Planning Guide to map out a year’s worth of messages.
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