Considerations for Newsletter Frequency
It’s an age old question that I have been asked as long as I have been managing my agency, and one of the questions I get asked at almost every training seminar that I hold on the topic of online marketing.
What is the best day to send out emails and how often should I send them?
Just for fun, I did a quick search on Google to see if I could find an answer but, alas, I kept getting rather useless answers such as the following:
“Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the ideal days on which to send out newsletters. Also, right now Sunday is trending, because everyone checks their email and does online shopping.”
No wonder everyone is in such a kerfuffle over this every so important question. Actually, the real answer is that itis the wrong question to ask. It smacks of a black hat way of thinking – almost as if one were asking how often we can hassle people before they get really angry with us. Maybe we should ask a different question.
How about focusing much more on what type of content we could create that would be really useful and valuable for our intended readers, and that they would actually want to receive? If your email programme comprises content that your readers really want, need, benefit from and the like, then once a week might not be enough. Maybe you should be sending out such content every day.How about we focus more on what type of useful content we could create for our readers? Click To Tweet
However, if your content is nothing more than regurgitated rubbish, then once a year is probably too often. I can’t stress enough that content has to be useful and interesting and aligned with what the reader wants and finds valuable (see our article on Crave Worthy Content). This is not just for email content – the same applies for website copy, content for your corporate blog, social media content and even press release content. As Seth God in reminds us in his presentation Tribes that we lead, the old model of pushing content out there en mass is simply not working and is not cost effective anymore.
However, content aside, frequency factors can contribute to and even enhance the performance of your Email Marketing programme and can make a difference. To illustrate this point, I thought it would be useful for us to look at how some other companies have addressed this frequency issue rather well, so we can all learn from them.
The Importance of Being Predictable
A while ago I started subscribing to the Content Marketing Institute daily news feed and rather liked the content that Joe Pulizzi and his team put together. As content marketing is such a new name for an old concept, I find it extremely valuable to read about and learn what some really smart people out there are doing with content. From my point of view, the more I learn, the more valuable I become to my clients.
The CMI’s content is really good, engaging and useful and, for this reason, my daily dose of Joe & Co has become an integral part of my morning routine.
And, as I have talked so much about it in our work meetings, Desiree, our Social Media Programme Coordinator, also subscribed, also found it useful and also started to make the emails part of her tube journey reading routine every morning, which is perfect as we now have more common references and ideas and examples when discussing content strategies for our clients (read: happy boss!).
Another daily feed that about half a million people (including myself and some people in our office) subscribe to and read every day as part of our morning routine is The Skimm, a lovely idea that produces and delivers a quick executive summary of the news every day in a very light hearted and almost fun way. Very digestible.
Then there is MoneySavingExpert (crammed with ideas and tips to save money) and Elephant Journal and, well a plethora of platforms – each with their own dedicated subscriber base. These brands, and all the others like them, are great examples because they have arguably accomplished the very essence of a Content Marketing led email marketing success story and they have all become part of the daily lives of their subscribers. And this is not only because their content is intelligent, useful and enlightening, it is also because the consistency of their send-outs allows their content to be anticipated and integrated into a daily routine. And because these email updates can be anticipated and integrated into a daily routine, one can assume that their open rate and readership is much larger than the occasional, randomly sent out newsletter or article.
They say predictability is boring, while I say predictability is profitable.Frank Orman talks about the profitability of being predictable in #EmailMarketing. Click To Tweet
The Capacity to Absorb
While we might be trigger happy to write up a storm of great email content that our readers will find irresistible, we need to also be very mindful and consider the issue of how much content our readers can actually absorb. Now I know that part of the answer lies in how much our readers want the content. After all we are generally happy to read a 200 page novel and find it hard to put down, yet very few of us have any time in our busy lives to read a corporate memo of less than one page. However, there is also the more absolute concept of data overload that we should consider.
For example, if we were sending out a quick, short, sharp and light-hearted news summary a la the Skimm, then daily send outs are still very digestible. However, if we have decided that our clients would prefer more detailed Whitepapers, maybe one per month might be sufficient, bordering on too much. If you want an example of how NOT to optimize email frequency, the newsletters of Insights for Professionals could provide an interesting case study. Although the articles and Whitepapers that they send out provide very valuable and indeed insightful information, they come in batches of 5 large articles or downloads, and that with a frequency of multiple times a week! However much I want to, I can never make time to read them all and this unfortunately causes me to ignore the organisation’s newsletters more often than they would wish.
The Capacity to Create
This is one of the hardest reality pills that we all need to swallow. Like many of our clients, I too get very excited by the thought of writing up great content and I actually find it fun. However, I have to keep in mind that I am head of a rather busy agency and my clients all need my time and expertise, my staff need guidance and direction, my suppliers need the odd reminder to keep them delivering on time, the baby needs feeding and changing, etc, etc. For this reason, I need to be extremely realistic about how much time and energy I can physically allocate to my love of writing and teaching. So while creating a daily skim might be a great idea, if you do not have the time or resources to deliver properly, then maybe get your readers used to a weekly or monthly routine. Like most things in life, there is no right or wrong – just finding the right routine balance that you and your readers can comfortably and predictably fall into… and enjoy, and benefit from.
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