Email Frequency Doesn't Have To Be Complicated. Just Push Frequency Until You See An Uptick In Negative Responses

Email Frequency Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated. Just Push Frequency Until You See An Uptick In Negative Responses

Best practices in email marketing are to capture your leads where they express interest then nurture them by providing informative, educational content.


At mailfloss we’re focused on helping email marketers get the most from their email marketing campaigns. We do this in a few different ways. First, we help email marketers improve their deliverability through the use of our email list verification service. Secondly, we work hard to educate email marketers on the various topics relating to running a successful email marketing campaign.

Today, mailfloss had the opportunity to chat with Adam Q. Holden-Bache, the author of “How to Win at B2B Email Marketing: A Guide to Achieving Success.” His book guides readers through all aspects of an email marketing program, including strategy, data, design, delivery, testing, and analysis.

Holden-Bache currently serves as Lead Strategist at Indiemark, an email marketing agency that has been in business since 2009. Previously, Adam spent 19 years as CEO of Mass Transmit, an award-winning email marketing agency.

Adam is also the lead email instructor for the American Marketing Association Digital Marketing BootCamps and speaks or teaches at many notable email marketing events and conferences.

mailfloss is lucky to have Adam with us today to share his insights about what it takes to run a successful email marketing campaign with our blog readers!

Without further ado, let’s jump into the interview.

The Interview

First of all, thanks for joining us today Adam to talk about your experience in the email marketing space. You’ve been in the industry for quite some time now and you’ve grown quite a following. First of all, congratulations! Can you begin by telling us about what elements within email marketing you’ve seen change over the years and which elements have stayed the same?

Email marketing has been an essential marketing channel since the mid-1990’s. We’ve seen a lot of change in the industry, but also a lot of consistency. What hasn’t changed is that email marketers always strive to achieve better results with their campaigns. That’s where Email Industries plays a big role. We help many brands identify areas of weakness, create better campaigns, and improve their email marketing results.

In your list of services, you include “List Growth and Lead-Nurturing Strategies”. Considering that one is centered around getting an email in the first place, and the other is about keeping it, how do they align together? What strategies do you have that include both of them, that, when used properly, increases the overall success rate?

List growth and lead nurturing go hand-in-hand. If you are successful at acquiring new subscribers but do nothing to educate and nurture their interests, then the leads have minimal chance of providing any business value. Best practices in email marketing are to capture your leads where they express interest then nurture them by providing informative, educational content. Once you’ve demonstrated your expertise, conversions will happen with minimal selling tactics. Provided there is no major financial hurdle to overcome, many leads will convert simply because you’ve demonstrated expertise and have created a situation where they want to do business with you.

One of the biggest struggles for email marketing is executing a solid win-back strategy, which is something I see you also help with. It really seems that once a customer hits the dreaded unsubscribe, there’s no getting them back. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it means the customer has left the funnel for good? Could you share some tips on how to get those customers back on the list, and into the sales funnel?

You can’t market to an address that has unsubscribed, although we have built an audience of previous subscribers and tried marketing to them via Facebook ads. The results weren’t as good as targeting new leads, so we typically don’t try to re-engage those that have unsubscribed.

However, retaining existing customers is a key focus of ours with our client campaigns. Marketers that deliver value with every message have very low unsubscribe rates. We also recommend re-engagement campaigns which we send to the non-engaged subscribers, typically those that haven’t opened or clicked in X timeframe or over the past X number of campaigns. The sole purpose of re-engagement campaigns is to activate the non-engaged recipients to revisit the emails, and we typically reward them for doing so.

You have a statement in which you say your goal is to “… help you proactively avoid interruptions to your email deliverability… recover more quickly from active interruptions…mitigate the risk and negative impact of future interruptions”. Could you give us some examples of what the “interruptions” are, and the negative impact they have on your email campaign?

This is directed towards email deliverability, and many factors can influence whether a message reaches the inbox, and if so, where it displays. Some of the more popular issues here can evolve around being blacklisted, customers identifying messages as spam, sending from a new domain, or other types of negative feedback. We are able to help brands with deliverability issues by researching the problem, identifying a solution, and providing whatever services are necessary to improve inbox placement rate.

You have a Linkedin group of “email marketing gurus”. In the group, you encourage the members to “discuss email-related topics with the world’s leading email marketing experts and practitioners.” What are the top questions or discussions that come up in this group?

The Email Marketing Gurus LinkedIn Group is largely comprised of email industry professionals, so the most popular questions tend to be around email platforms or their functions, issues that can’t be resolved, and questions about deliverability. The members of that group are great at offering ideas or solutions, so it continues to be a fairly active group that provides value to the email professionals who seek email marketing answers.

Also within the group, are there any common issues that seem to arise on the regular? Like, something all businesses developing their email marketing often commiserate over?

Deliverability frequently comes up because many email professionals are on the marketing side of things, and don’t deal with the technical aspects of email delivery. Luckily we have several email deliverability experts in the group who can provide quality feedback. There are also a lot of jobs posted there, as there seems to be more openings for email expertise than there are available professionals!

Let’s talk about frequency. There are a lot of differing opinions about this. Have you tested your own theories about how often emails should be sent? What were some of your findings?

Frequency doesn’t have to be complicated. What we do is push the frequency until we start to see an uptick in negative responses (unsubscribes, spam complaints, or simply a decrease in opens/clicks/conversions). Once you see that bump, you reduce frequency.

However, the bigger issue here is offers and content. If you send quality emails that recipients enjoy receiving, we’ve found very few people will unsubscribe no matter what the frequency. The problem is, most brands can’t produce enough high-quality content to get close to their frequency cap. But in short, the more high-quality email you send, the more opportunity you have for conversions. More emails = more revenue.

Tagging on the above, do you think what you discovered is applicable across all niches of online marketing? Like, would someone selling software need to send emails more or less frequently than someone selling pet supplies?

Products that have a longer lifecycle don’t need to send as frequently as products that are purchased frequently. However, you need to be in the inbox when that moment occurs when someone is ready to purchase. We help brands with their products that sell every couple of years (think appliances, software, automobiles, computers, etc.) send email on a regular basis for that very reason. If someone is ready to purchase, you need to be top of mind. If recipients aren’t unsubscribing, then they may be waiting until the time is right to reference your email to trigger a purchase.

Let’s talk a little bit more about “voice” in email marketing. What are some strategies (or voice types) you’ve seen work really well in the world of email marketing? What advice would you give to email marketers about creating their “voice” and who are some great examples of companies who have nailed “voice” within their email campaigns?

We’ve found that brands that can relate to their audience tend to get the best results. Depending on the brand, the “voice” can be significantly different. Higher-end brands should be more formal. Businesses need to adhere to a certain level of professionalism. But less formal brands can be more personal.

All brands should find a voice that works for them. But if you can, always push for a more conversational, less business-speak style. Recipients tend to want to read in a tone that is similar to how we speak during conversation.

Finally, if our readers had to focus on just one aspect of their email marketing strategy to fine-tune into perfection (i.e. lead generation, win-backs, streamlining, etc.), what would it be, and why?

Email is only as good as its weakest link, but there are three things that we routinely see that always needs attention.

1. The Inbox Display (From Name, subject line & preview text).

Most marketers spend 99% of their time on the email message, but fail to recognize that without a recognizable From Name and an effective subject line and preview text, their email will never even be opened. Marketers need to pay more attention to these items, and continuously test to figure out what works best.

2. Automated Emails

Many brands are either not setting up effective automated campaigns, or if they are, they are not revisiting their results frequently enough to maximize their value. Brands need to recognize that their Welcome Message is probably going to be their highest performing email, and their abandoned cart, re-engagement, anniversary and other automated emails need to be continuously tested and evaluated to get the best results.

3. Working towards goals (typically conversions)

If the reason why you sent the email campaign is “because my boss told me to” or “because it’s on our schedule”, then you probably aren’t going to get positive business results. Every email should have a goal. Is it education? Retention? Engagement? A purchase? Whatever it is, work towards that goal and give recipients an easy way to achieve it.

Well said! Thanks for joining us today Adam. We truly appreciate you taking the time to chat with our email marketing blog readers about your experiences and insights. We truly appreciate it. To our blog readers, if you’d like to learn more about Adam’s work you can follow him on Twitter or head over to Indiemark’s website here.