Give the Gift of the Right Frequency

As we approach the holiday season, many retailers will increase their email frequency to their customers. It’s always tough to determine the right frequency, especially during the holidays when customers are being inundated with promotional emails, often multiple times in one day, from the same retailer. A common misconception among marketers is that an increased number of emails equals higher revenue. In fact, suddenly increasing your frequency can cause a spike in complaints and a decrease in engagement.

The examples below show my Gmail inbox over a seven-day time span before and during last year’s holiday season to highlight the differences in mailing frequency.

Pre-holiday season:



Week of Black Friday/Cyber Monday:



5 tips for optimizing your frequency over the holidays:

  1. Start slowly. Significantly increasing your send frequency can increase your complaint rate and unsubscribe requests, which will have a negative impact on your reputation. Knowing that you will want to send more during the holiday season, start slowly. Don’t suddenly go from three emails a week to ten. Instead, slowly increase your frequency to get your customers used to the new, higher frequency.
  2. Listen to your customers. Complaints are bound to increase with a ramped up cadence. Make sure that you are signed up for all available feedback loops and whitelists. Actively remove complainers from your list. Continuing to mail customers who complain will have an adverse effect on your reputation and can prevent your engaged customers from receiving your mail.
  3. Put their needs ahead of your own. You always want to make sure that you are sending your customers information that they will find valuable. If they feel that you are just blindly trying to push a promotion on them and no longer put their best interests ahead of your own, they will start to disengage with your brand.
  4. Segment your list. Review your email metrics (opens and clicks) to segment your customers based on their engagement with your brand. You can then adjust your frequency based on activity. For example, it may be possible to increase frequency for customers who consistently open or click your emails, but you many need to decrease frequency for customers who engage less often.
  5. Give them options. When customers feel that they are being over emailed, they are more likely to unsubscribe. Send them to a preference center so that they can set the frequency they feel most comfortable with.

Not optimizing for send frequency during the holidays can have a negative impact on your email program all year long. Not only will you see a higher number of unsubscribe requests, but an increase in spam complaints can also cause mailbox providers to start filtering your mail into the junk folders.

Following these five tips will help you make the most of your holiday sending strategies while promoting your brand and also keeping your customer’s happy. For more great holiday tips, check out our latest Infographic: 10 Email Tips to Keep your Holidays Merry and Bright.

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