Back to the Basics: Email Infrequency

Andrew Kordek

2 minute read


Email has had a big year; The Los Angeles Times reported that Cyber Monday was the largest in history – more than $6 billion in online sales – and email played an important role.

This late in December, most of us have received a virtual onslaught of email from our favorite retailers attempting to get us to participate in the holiday fun. Consumers have come to expect it, but during the rest of the year, marketers wonder whether they’re sending the right amount of emails.

In recent years much has been written about email frequency and the ideal number of emails that organizations should send.  In a perfect world, the real answer is that you should send as often as your subscribers allow you to send to them.  

In reality, though, we have no evidence or best practice for how much email a particular subscriber is willing to accept. That’s because so many variables are involved.

How did subscribers opt-in? How often do they open and click on your messages? Are they newer or older subscribers? Do they browse your website? Do they use your products, or are they mainly prospective buyers?

The risks associated with overmailing can be damaging. Spam complaints and unsubscribes can eat into your lists. Subscriber annoyance with overmailing can damage your brand equity. But the answer isn’t just to cut back on frequency because it can create another problem:  Sending email too infrequently.

Problems with email infrequency

If you don’t send enough email, you could set your email program up for other problems that might be as bad as sending too much, if not worse.  

  1. Your subscribers could forget that they did subscribe and either ignore your emails or mark them as spam. That damages your reputation with their ISPs just as much as generating spam complaints because you send too much email.
  2. With that damaged reputation, your emails could suffer sporadic deliverability problems – getting routed to the spam folder instead of the inbox or blocked completely.
  3. Most important, it will be harder to identify people that your organization would consider “inactive.” These could be consumers who have abandoned their email addresses or, for B2B emailers, people who have left their jobs.

How to find the right frequency balance

Aim for twice a month. Trendline recommends that you send an email to your subscriber base at least twice a month. You can test a higher frequency for subscribers you consider “engaged” across all channels based on their behavior.  

Plan for content. If you don’t have enough content for twice-a-month campaigns, we recommend that you invest in content development or curation. Set up a content calendar to help you organize and plan for your campaigns.

Test new ideas. You always have something to say to your subscribers, whether it’s a promotion, a new-product announcement, buyer tips and other helpful information. Email is a perfect place to test content, frequency, and other approaches quickly.

It is always better, in the long run, to dial-up, test and learn than to try, dial back and mitigate.


If you are looking for some help, we would be honored to speak with you. Contact us today.



Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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