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How often should I send out a newsletter?

People often wonder, should I send a newsletter every week? Every month? Twice a day? The optimal sending frequency has been the topic of many debates in the past, and it’ll probably continue to be a point of discussion for a long time. Here’s my take on the matter: it all depends…


Who’s your target group? What do your subscribers want? What kind of products do you sell? Are your email efforts season related? Event related? How much effort do you want to put into it? Oh man, just so many factors to consider here.


Daily and weekly emails
Suppose you’re the owner of a webshop that sells concert and sports games tickets. Events like that are held more than once a week, so a weekly email might be a good idea. If your offer is genuinely great, you could even set up some sort of Daily Deal kind of campaign. People who are into this stuff, probably won’t mind receiving lots of emails with solid offers.


Say you’re Ray the Mailman. You know a lot about email marketing, and you want to share your knowledge with the world. For free. First off, that’s a fantastic idea. Second, that’s definitely something you could do on a weekly basis.


But what if your product or your service doesn’t allow for weekly campaigns? Well, first of all: any topic is suitable for weekly emails. It’s just a matter of creating quality content and finding people who are willing to take it in. Every week. That sounds great in theory, but every day life teaches us this might be a little far fetched.


Monthly, bimonthly and quarterly campaigns
So, what to do when you feel you don’t want to “bother” your subscribers too often? This is when you start to think about monthly, bimonthly or even quarterly email campaigns. There’s no harm in staying quiet for a while. Just don’t be too quiet for too long. People who visit your website and sign up for your newsletter, expect to hear from you rather sooner than later. If you make them wait for too long, they will have forgotten all about you when your email finally arrives.


This is why I don’t recommend sending quarterly emails. Try to get out at least six campaigns a year. And if this is your maximum, I suggest you set up an autoresponder that sends out about a week or two after sign up. Make sure this email contains some general information about your business, and some topics that might be of interest to your subscriber. This way, no matter when people sign up, they will always have something to remind them of you within a couple of weeks after they’ve subscribed. It’s all about mindspace!


Managing expectations
Whatever frequency you choose though, make sure you more or less stick with it. Don’t promise a monthly email and end up sending a bimonthly one. Don’t promise a bimonthly email and end up sending a weekly email either. You need to first manage and then respect the expectations of your subscribers. This is why I also recommend planning your content a head of time, to make sure your email plan doesn’t go south after a couple of months.


More examples
Another factor that may determine how often you’ll be sending out newsletters, is the type of business you’re in. Suppose you’re quite handy with exotic woods and you handcraft great pieces of furniture. That’s not the kind of product that people will buy every week or even every month. So you might want to think about a bimonthly newsletter.


However, if you could spice things up with some interesting background information (tell people how to maintain their wooden furniture, explain them about various wood treatment methods, et cetera), you may be able to justify a monthly newsletter.


The same goes for selling fitness equipment. I’m not talking dumbells here, just the large machine type of stuff that you find in the gym. People don’t buy those every week either. But you could easily make your newsletter interesting by including work out routines or discussing frequent fitness injuries (and how to deal with them!).


The difference between these two examples is: most likely, more people are into fitness than into wooden furniture. So in fact, some businesses will have less trouble in gathering a large crowd that wants to listen to them every week than others. Don’t let this fool you though: it’s not about the numbers only. A small crowd consisting of genuinely interested followers is just as good. It’s all about how much time you’re willing to invest.


Sending frequency as a variable instead of a given
In certain cases, it’s useful to vary the frequency of your newsletter. Take a big event, let’s say a city marathon. If marathon day is still eight months away, it’s not very useful to send people a weekly newsletter, so you might want to stick with a monthly update instead.


However, when the event draws nearer, you’ll probably want to inform participants about transportation, handling baggage, accomodations, first aid stations, food and drinks along the course and all kinds of other stuff that’s typical for race week and race day. So it’s probably a good idea to start emailing participants on a weekly basis instead of once a month. After the event you can send one or two more weekly updates, and then return to monthly newsletters until the next edition approaches.


Final thoughts
As you’ve probably realized by now, deciding on a sending frequency is not as straightforward as it seems. It’s not a matter of saying: I want to send a monthly newsletter. I mean, that is one approach, and it works for some people. But my advice is: consider the needs of your audience AND your business and go with that.

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