Sending too many emails might annoy your subscribers. But sending too few might result in missed sales and conversions. So what’s the best email cadence to generate engagement?
To get to the bottom of this million-dollar question, we analyzed over one million campaigns sent on the MailerLite platform in 2022 to figure out how often you should be sending emails.
The answer we came to is (drum roll, please)... it depends.
Sorry, we were hoping for a neat and tidy answer too. But the optimal email cadence really does depend on your subscribers, the types of emails you plan to send, the product you’re promoting, and your offer.
The good news is that our data highlights plenty of interesting insights. We’ll share these and some best practices to help determine your optimal email cadence.
Email cadence is the frequency and timing of the emails you send. The idea is to optimize your cadence so your messages receive the highest possible level of engagement and contribute to your email marketing and wider business goals.
Many variables can impact the optimal email marketing cadence for your business.
The products you sell are one such variable. An e-commerce store with a continually rotating product line and frequently changing offers is likely to send more emails than a store that focuses on a small selection of products at a steady price point.
The amount of content you produce will also impact cadence. A business that creates a lot of content will have more to say than one that rarely creates content, justifying a higher email frequency.
You can also send emails to different customer segments at different cadences. A warm lead who has just signed up for a free trial will need a high cadence of emails to learn about your product and offer. But a long-time customer may get by with a weekly or monthly newsletter that rounds up essential updates.
Finding the optimal email cadence allows you to send emails at a rate that best impacts your business goals.
Get your email cadence right, and you’ll increase email marketing metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
Get it wrong, and the opposite will happen. Send too many emails, and your recipients will stop seeing their value and may unsubscribe from your list. Send too few, and you’ll miss out on opportunities to connect with your subscribers and generate sales.
Our data analysis did not magically reveal the perfect email marketing frequency. But we did learn a few important things that will help you decide how often to send emails, including:
How often other businesses are sending emails
The average engagement rates for emails sent at different frequencies
Email frequency benchmarks by industry
Let’s dive into the data!
First up, here is a chart that shows the percentage of MailerLite accounts that send campaigns at different mailing frequencies. The data highlights campaigns, not automated emails sent via email marketing workflows.
This chart shows that 53.49% of our customers send multiple emails every month. What’s more, 32.51% of our customers send at least one email every week. If you want to send multiple emails every week, you certainly aren’t alone!
But does the number of emails you send impact open rate? Check out the image below to find out.
Our data shows that emails sent multiple times per week have a lower open rate than emails sent monthly or less. It also shows that the average open rate decreases the more often you send emails.
But the difference is slight: the medium open rate difference between emails sent over 7 times a week and those sent once per month or less is only 4.66%. It’s easy to see how the benefits of sending more emails could outweigh the negatives of a slightly lower open rate in some situations.
Recent Apple Mail Privacy changes mean open rates aren’t as accurate as they once were. All emails sent to Apple Mail users who opt into privacy protection show as having been opened.
With the above point in mind, click-through rate can be a better metric to measure campaign engagement. The below chart shows the average email click-through rate based on email sending frequency.
Our latest data suggests that sending frequency has little impact on click-through rate. Emails sent 2 to 3 times per week had the lowest CTOR at 16.89%, but this was only 0.56% lower than the sending frequency with the highest click-through rate, which was those sent 4 to 5 times per week.
The data shows that as long as you are delivering value, people will interact with your emails, no matter how frequently you send them.
Let’s take a look at email frequency by industry. We analyzed the rate at which our customers send email campaigns to their subscribers. The chart below shows the median number of days between emails for different industries.
This will give you a better idea of what your email-sending benchmark should look like, but it’s not going to be exact. Each business within a particular industry is unique and will provide different services and messaging that impact the number of emails it sends.
|Industry||Number of days between emails (median)|
|Agriculture and food services||15.06|
|Arts and artists||19.03|
|Beauty and personal care||16.3|
|Business and finance||13.34|
|Education and training||12.6|
|Entertainment and events||14.86|
|Health and fitness||12.64|
|Home and garden||15.57|
|Marketing and advertising||11.42|
|Media and publishing||16.02|
|Medical, dental and healthcare||16.17|
|Software and web apps||13.52|
|Travel and transportation||16.2|
Want more email marketing data to power your campaigns? Then check out our article on the best times to send your emails. We reveal the days and times that result in the most opens and clicks so you can optimize your sending.
Next, we’ll look at 8 email cadence best practices you can use alongside our data to figure out your optimal email cadence. Put these into practice to see opens and clicks soar while minimizing unsubscribes.
Before choosing a cadence, decide what you want your emails to achieve. Common goals include driving sales, nurturing leads, increasing blog traffic, building authority with a newsletter, or getting more eyes on your content to earn from ads.
Each of these goals will have an optimum cadence. Nurturing leads might require a high cadence of emails to keep your brand top of mind while the lead is interested in buying. But if you want to build authority with a newsletter, you’ll be better off only sending emails when you have a high-quality article that you’re ready to share.
With this in mind, choose a goal and then think about how many emails it will take to hit these targets.
Hit the link below to learn how to create email marketing content your readers will love.
Email marketing automation lets you align the frequency of emails you send with the behavior of your leads or customers.
For example, if someone signs up for a lead magnet, you can automatically deliver the lead magnet and then send them further information related to the resource topic. Or if one of your subscribers signs up for a webinar, you can send a follow-up email at the perfect time.
This ensures subscribers get relevant emails when it matters, regardless of how often you send campaigns.
Read this article for examples of automation workflows to get you started.
A simple way to keep subscribers happy with your email cadence is to tell them how often they will receive emails.
Create a welcome email that explains how often you contact subscribers. This will leave the recipient in no doubt about how often they can expect to hear from you.
At this stage, you can also offer multiple frequency options to let recipients choose a cadence that suits them.
Check out this welcome email example from No-Code Coffee, which clarifies how often the recipient will receive emails and provides a link they can use to adjust the frequency.
Another way to let customers choose how often they hear from you is to create recipient segments based on factors like interests or locations. You can then put your subscribers into groups and send emails related to their interests.
Someone who shows an interest in multiple types of content will receive more emails than someone with specific interests.
There are plenty of ways you can create segments and groups. One is to add options to your email signup page. That’s what Marketing Dive does when you sign up for its newsletter.
Or you could link to your preference center from within your email to let people choose the topics they are interested in. The image below shows an example preference center built with MailerLite for a menswear newsletter.
You can even segment subscribers based on their activity. For example, a fashion e-commerce store could add everyone who clicks on a link to their menswear collection to a segment for people interested in menswear.
People unsubscribe to emails when they feel they aren’t getting relevant content. Use our custom unsubscribe page builder to give people the option to choose to receive more relevant emails rather than unsubscribing from your list entirely.
An easy way to discover whether your current email cadence is working for your subscribers is to ask them.
Create an email survey that asks people if they like the current frequency or if they would prefer to receive emails more or less often.
With this information, you can consider increasing or decreasing the number of emails you send.
Use unsubscribe surveys to find out why people quit your list. MailerLite users can access a standardized unsubscribe form with five options, including the option for The emails are too frequent. If this reason keeps coming up, you’ll know that you need to send fewer emails.
A/B tests provide a more analytical look at how your subscribers respond to different frequencies.
For example, you could split your subscribers into two groups and send Group A weekly newsletters and Group B bi-weekly newsletters to see which one results in higher open and click-through rates.
You could even test factors like the time of the email, the day you send your campaigns or the type of content you include.
Once you have your results, don’t stop there! Keep testing until you whittle down the most successful email cadence for your audience.
Be careful that your organization isn't sending too many emails at the same time. People don’t always make the distinction between a sales email, a product update or a marketing newsletter. They’ll just see that XYZ company has sent them multiple emails.
With this in mind, you should align your sending frequency and timing with that of other departments. This will avoid overwhelming subscribers’ inboxes with too many emails.
Also consider sharing the email cadence insights in this article with other teams so they can optimize their sending frequency. You can then create a cross-department email strategy and timetable so there are no clashes.
Our next tip is perhaps the simplest one. Look at your email analytics to see how people respond to your campaigns.
Your MailerLite dashboard provides insight into key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe count. When you change your email cadence, check how this impacts your metrics. You can then dial in your sending frequency based on this feedback.
The one-size-fits-all email cadence doesn’t exist, but you can find what works best for you and run with it.
The truth is that the success of your email marketing strategy can rarely be distilled to 1 aspect like sending frequency or subject line. Better open rates and more clicks come when the right email elements align to meet your subscriber’s needs.
If subscribers need to hear from you every week, send them emails every week. If they need you less often, experiment to find a cadence that works.
Now's the time to put your new email cadence knowledge into action. Sign up for MailerLite to create campaigns using the best practices in this article.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in August 2020, but has been updated with fresh data and examples.