If you run an ecommerce business, you know email marketing directly affects sales. In fact, a 2016 survey revealed the median ROI of email is more than four times higher than other marketing channels. Whether it's to promote a sale or stay top of mind, email offers a direct way to talk to current (and future) customers. Striking the right frequency for ecommerce email marketing can be hard to nail down, though. Send too few messages — and they'll get burried in an inbox. But overload your list, and you could encourage unsubscribes — or worse — get marked as spam.
How Frequently Should You Email?
First, let me preface with this: Every list is different. If you email your list once per quarter, you probably shouldn't start blasting two message a day out of of the blue. But now that marketers (like me) have begun to ruin your inbox with promotions and newsletters, don't be afraid to send more emails!
Look at your own inbox. How many times a day does a single business email you?
To discover what email marketing frequency would encourage ecommerce sales without destroying customer trust, I set out to test: How often is too often?
Here are some changes that worked with one ecommerce client — and the ROI of each effort.
Bumping the Promo Email Frequency
Before working with this client, the company sent one promotional email a quarter. The promotions usually offered 10-20% off but would garner a modest spike in traffic and revenue. In one quarter, the email channel accounted for 1.30% of revenue.
After taking on this client, we started testing one promotion a month. The email list would receive four emails during the promotion, which ran for about a week.
Increasing the email marketing frequency from once/quarter to once/month wasn't an overwhelming amount, but the uptick paid off. Although the promotions were slightly more attractive (25-30% off), the client saw a 2100% increase in the email channel alone. And email now contributes 15% of overall revenue.
Capitalizing on High-Traffic Days
Looking to improve, I knew Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday — the rare days consumers actively scan their inboxes for deals — would be great times to experiment.
To capitalize on this opportunity, I planned to send one email a day for eight days straight — from November 21 to November 28. Crazy, right?!
Because our client only sells a few SKUs that rarely change, the idea of eight consecutive emails actually seemed insane when I pitched the idea. So much so, we almost didn't send an email on Cyber Monday. But boy, am I glad I did.
Here are the promo details:
- The Thanksgiving promotion ran from November 21-24 with a 20% discount.
- Black Friday ran from November 25-27 with a 25% discount.
- Cyber Monday ran with a secret promotional email, which the website revealed as 30% off.
The email list got an email a day, and the messages also offered deeper and deeper discounts.
The result: 155% increase in email revenue from the previous year's November promotion. Black Friday dominated in terms of revenue, but the super secret Cyber Monday sale had better open and click-through rates, ranking second in revenue.
The best news off all? While sending one email a day improved sales, the unsubscribe rate stayed the same. This meant our list was not against seeing my beautiful emails more often!
The Ideal Email Marketing Frequency
Drawing these conclusions involved serious A/B testing. Which days have the best conversion rate? What subject lines got the most opens? Which email format had a higher click-through rate?
These are all great ideas for A/B testing your own emails. Once you have the data, your emails will stand a fighting chance against all the spam flooding your audience's inboxes.
We pushed the envelope, but did so carefully and strategically. It wasn't a far stretch to up the email marketing frequency for promotions to every day versus every other day.
Email is a highly lucrative digital marketing channel that boasts an impressive ROI. So get out there and start testing to discover what email marketing frequency resonates with your audience.If you want to get more out of your ecommerce email marketing efforts, download our free ecommerce email marketing calendar.