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Sam Thomas Davies

E-Commerce Email Frequency Made Simple (A Data-Driven Guide)

  • Email Marketing

We all know it by now.

The return on investment (ROI) from email is huge.

That’s why you spend hours, maybe even months, building your email list to encourage sales for your e-commerce store.

But scheduling the wrong emails at the wrong time leads to higher unsubscribe rates, greater expenses for the business, and increases the likelihood of ending up in no man’s land (a.k.a. the Promotions tab).

No one wants that.

So how do you know the best time to send an email? Or how often you should mail your customers?

You look at the data.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the data around the best time to send an email, help you benchmark yourself against others in your industry and give you the five-step guide to planning your own email frequency.

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Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

What you need to consider

There’s no straightforward answer to how often you should send an email and often you’re left clutching straws not knowing whether you’re doing the right thing.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Clutch at Straws Meme

The truth is…

The best email frequency is the one that works for you.

But how do you know what works for you? More on that later.

For now, let’s look at the data.

What does the data say?

A report by Hubspot studied over 20 million emails sent over a 10-month period.

According to the data, Tuesday seemed to be the best day to send an email.

Hubspot Daily Email Open

Source: Hubspot

Monday and Wednesday were also strong contenders with high open rates.

This was followed by Thursday and then Friday. The weekends, it seems, have the lowest open rates.

MailChimp conducted similar research but found Thursdays are the optimum days to send emails, based on open rates and percentage of unsubscribes.

Mailchimp Optimal Email Send

Source: Mailchimp

When is the best time to email?

As for best times to email, 11 am had the most positive responses.

Hubspot Average Hourly Email Open

Source: Hubspot

Sending an email between 10 am and 12 pm generally resulted in the best open rate.

GetResponse also conducted a survey and found Tuesday to be the best day to send an email.

GetResponse Email Frequency

Source: GetResponse

Now we’ve discussed the best time and day to send emails, let’s look at how many emails you should be sending to your audience.

A report by DMA highlighted how often various businesses from different industries contact their email list. Two to five times a month appeared to be most common.  

DMA Email Frequency

Source: DMA

In a study by MarketingSherpa, consumers were asked how often they’d like to receive email correspondence from businesses they subscribed to.

Over 80% of the consumers surveyed suggested they’d be happy to receive emails from companies at least once a month. Over 60% of those surveyed said they’d be happy to receive emails at least once a week.

Campaign Monitor found the ideal time to send an email was once every two weeks.

In a study by BlueHornet, the top reason people unsubscribe from an email list is because of frequency.

BlueHornet Email Frequency

Source: BlueHornet

A separate study by TechnologyAdvice also found 45.8% of subscribers marked emails as spam because email marketers emailed too often.

And when asked how businesses could improve their emails, 43.9% of respondents cited less frequent emails as their top choice, with 24.2% suggesting email marketers should provide more informative content within their email campaigns.

ReturnPath found that the more emails a marketer sends the lower the average read rate per user.

ReturnPath Frequency vs Read Rate

Source: ReturnPath

With that data in mind, let’s look at five ways you can optimize your own e-commerce email frequency.

Turning email frequency data into action

We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data presented.

What we do want to do, however, is show you that there are different opinions for every element of email frequency.

What we can see from the data are the averages and benchmarks to use as examples.

But this doesn’t mean that the same will work for you.

So how do you optimize your own e-commerce email frequency to find your sweet spot?

1. Use the benchmarks

When planning your own email frequency, it can be helpful to first look at the benchmarks.

Benchmarks help you see how other people are conducting their email marketing and can help you plan your own.

It doesn’t mean you have to take what they’re saying as fact and copy them.

It just means if you’re totally in the dark, you have a guideline backed by real data to help you.

But remember, just because a certain technique works for one store, doesn’t mean it will work for your e-commerce store, too.

2. Segment your email list

Everyone on your email list is different. They have different wants and needs.

The only thing they have in common is, at some point, they signed up to receive emails from you.

Because everyone in your email list is different, you shouldn’t necessarily be sending the same emails to everyone.

This can easily be done through segmentation.

This way you can send super targeted emails to certain categories only, knowing they have a higher chance of opening the email and taking the desired action you wish them to take.

Lyris found segmenting your email list has a number of benefits including an increased open rate and greater email relevance.

Lyris Email Segmentation Chart

Source: Lyris

3. Provide value and be consistent

Although it might be tempting to try and send as many emails to your customers as you can, you need to ensure you’re providing value.

It’s no surprise that people are more likely to engage with your emails if they believe you’re sending valuable content.

Consistency is key when sending emails.

If you tell your email list you plan to email them, once a week on a Thursday, send them an email once a week on a Thursday.

Sports Car Digest manages their subscriber’s expectations by letting them know exactly which day they’ll send an email.

Sportscardigest Setting Expectations Email

Lack of consistency confuses your subscribers and can lead to high unsubscribe or spam rates.

4. Personalize your emails

You got someone to opt-in to your emails!

Well done.

But don’t think the hard work is over. The truth is, it’s only just beginning.

You can’t send your subscribers endless emails that aren’t personalized.

Personalizing your emails means knowing your audience.

It means making your emails seem like you’re speaking to an individual and not a crowd of people.

Every email you send to your customers helps build and develop lifelong relationships between yourself and them.

Spotify does a great job of personalization. What makes this email even more special: they go beyond just including a name in the email.

Spotify Personal Email

Would every subscriber benefit from this email?


Because not every subscriber is a fan of Lady Antebellum.

The personalization element meant that Spotify was able to send this email to this particular user, knowing it they would have an interest.

5. Test test test

The reality is, you need to be testing.

When you think about it, every email list is different.

Therefore the best time or frequency for you to send an email might not be the same as another email marketer.

One of the easiest ways to increase your open is to split test your email frequency.

If you’re using an email tool, like MailChimp, this is simple to do.  

When you’re optimizing your email campaigns to find the right frequency, you’ll be able to send the right messages to the right subscribers at the right time.

Doing so requires you to be testing.

If in doubt, ask your customers.

Bonobos ask their subscribers how often they’d like to receive emails. This way, Bonobos don’t inundate people with emails when they don’t want them.

Bonobos Email Frequency Example

Source: Bonobos

Allowing them to decide when they receive emails, will increase your open rate and give your subscribers control.

Over-emailing vs. under-emailing

We saw from the data that emailing too frequently was a core reason why readers unsubscribe from email lists or mark emails as spam.

But is there a danger in under emailing too?

When you don’t send out enough relevant correspondence to your email list you may run into some problems.

Firstly, not sending enough emails means you miss out on crucial revenue opportunities.

Your email list is a tool to help you sell to your customers. Limiting the number of emails you send also means you decrease the chance of your subscribers buying from you.

Don’t leave money on the table.

Also not sending consistent emails to your list means you don’t have a strong presence in their inbox.

Consumers receive many emails a day, you need to make sure that you stand out.

If you don’t email often enough, your subscribers might forget who you are, not recognize you when you do appear in their inbox and unsubscribe when you do email.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

Setting your frequency

Put yourselves in the shoes of your customers.

Look at your own inbox. How often do you receive emails that you don’t read and move directly to the trash?

Think about why you do this.

Is it because you don’t think the email would provide you with any value?

Or is it because this is the third email you’ve received from that business this week?

Email marketing is about building lifelong relationships.

So the best frequency that will work for you is the one that helps you build the strongest relationships.

Using data as a benchmark, plus your own testing and ensuring every email you send is personable and provides value will help draw conclusions.

You can then use these conclusions to create your own perfect email frequency to decipher what works best for your business.

How often do you send email correspondence to your list? I’d love to know what works for you.