Ever wonder if it’s possible to send too many emails to your audience?

The answer is: “Yes!”

Your email strategy isn’t about overloading your subscribers’ inboxes and keeping them full. You could end up with fewer subscribers and more unread emails doing that. As we’ve talked about in the past couple of weeks, quality beats quantity anytime.

Here are key things to think about regarding how many emails you send.

What does your audience want?

Sometimes, the last thing we think about doing when planning an email strategy is to ask the subscribers what they want. Yet — they will know how much they want from you. Having experimented with this, I found some subscribers wanted daily content, while others were happy with weekly missives. Interestingly, according to Parry Malm, CEO of Phrasee, customers will always under-report the frequency they best respond to.

The key to all of this is finding the right balance for your specific audience. As ClickZ explains, there are risks to sending too few and risks to sending too many.

One of the key risks of sending too few emails is reduced visibility in your recipient’s inbox. Sending too few emails in a world where inboxes are full of messages vying for people’s attention could mean one email per month leads to your brand being lost in the shuffle. It may be that people forget who you are and why they subscribed to your email list in the first place. Not what you want at all.

A key risk in sending too many emails is that you may get less engagement from recipients. With too many of your emails in their inbox, people could consider your messages a nuisance, not open or read them, and even unsubscribe.

By contrast, Kath Pay, an email marketer with Holistic Email Marketing, says if you’re sending relevant emails, you can’t send too many. Her view is that “when the subscriber is ready to action them, [he or she] will.”

So, what’s the correct number of emails to send?

As Pritha says, “There isn’t any magic number.”

In recent articles, we’ve focused on the need to tell a story to engage and connect emotionally with readers or, in this case, email subscribers. Today organizations are advised to save time and set up automated email content delivery systems. But is that fulfilling your organization’s need to engage with every reader as if you were having a one-to-one conversation? Not likely.

Ultimately, the best way to find the perfect number of emails to send for your specific audience is to test your send rate.

Hubspot suggests this five-step process to set up a test:

Step 1:  Set up your hypotheses. They recommend “channeling your favorite science lab partner” to create multiple ideas to test. That way, you’ll have a better chance to find out what the optimum number of email sends is for your audience.

Step 2:  Choose a list segment. The assumption here is that you have segmented your email list subscribers. Hubspot recommends using a list segment that is sizeable enough to give you a solid test group. And the key is to determine what it is you want to test. Is it the number of opens or your open rate? Or perhaps the click-through rate? Make sure your hypotheses are clear and discoverable.

Step 3:  Establish baseline metrics. This step isn’t as easy as it sounds. The HubSpot article provides insights into how to gather that baseline you need to measure against.

Step 4: Create and schedule your test emails. To begin your test, remember to focus on the one thing you want to evaluate —send frequency — and to keep everything else the same. Don’t change templates or subject lines, as doing so will skew your results. Changing several aspects of your email can make it difficult to gather accurate response numbers. Your focus is on send frequency and send frequency only.

Step 5: Measure and analyze results. Once you have conducted your testing, then it is time to check your hypotheses and see what the outcome was. Was your theory correct or incorrect? For example, you might have said: “People will open more of our emails if we send three per week.” You send out three emails a week to your sample. Did they open more, or did nothing change?

Don’t think of the process as complicated. All you need to do is think about what you believe your subscriber list will do if you send either more or fewer emails — and then test your theory.

Sending B2B versus B2C is different.

Remember this: If you are sending emails to businesses to talk to them about your service and ultimately have them use it, then your email frequency needs to be more emails.

Yet, the opposite is true if your subscriber list contains consumers or customers/clients of your organization. Think of it this way; if you are selling marketing services to businesses, you want to provide them with valuable insights and ideas on how to improve their marketing. Providing helpful information lets that organization or business see you as an expert in the field. You become a trusted source of marketing insight and, therefore, more likely to be the business that business turns to when they need marketing assistance.

You may decide to send out two emails a week, one informative and the other more product or service-focused. This study shows that the more emails you send to business clients, the more orders you are likely to receive.

Individual list subscribers don’t want to be sold to. They want information. You want them to see you as authoritative. Perhaps sending one email every two weeks or once a month is enough for this group. Perhaps not.

Simply thinking about whether your subscriber audience contains businesses or individual customers and realizing each audience may require different send frequencies may help you find the right balance.

Use these 5 strategies to optimize your email-send frequency.

FulcrumTech published a great list on how to optimize your email send frequency back in 2009, and yet it still seems as relevant today:

  1. Find the best day and time to send your emails.
  2. Adjust e-Newsletter frequency to the optimum level.
  3. Use segmentation to combat over-mailing.
  4. Let your subscribers tell you what they want.
  5. Track your inactive users.

Ultimately, you want to better understand your audience. Find the perfect sweet spot for each group of subscribers so they will stay engaged with you and your brand. There will be an ideal number for your audience segments that aren’t too few or too many; it is a matter of finding that just-right number.