Choose the newsletter frequency

1. Audit your existing emails to determine the total volume of messages your audience currently receives from you.

Unless it replaces existing emails, your newsletter will need to fit within the context of other messages you send to your audience. Mapping out how frequently different segments typically receive your messages ensures that adding the newsletter to the mix doesn’t overwhelm your audience. For example, a weekly newsletter might make sense for a B2B SaaS provider sending largely automated, action-based drip messages to audiences currently in the funnel. For a B2C ecommerce merchant that already sends weekly or daily product promotions, a monthly newsletter makes more sense.

2. Define the exact purpose and content strategy of your email newsletter.

For example, your goals might focus on: Sharing value-added content. Improving conversions from email. Building a stronger relationship with your subscribers. Establishing thought leadership. The purpose of your newsletter can influence your ideal frequency. For example, a news or content publisher looking to increase awareness and readership may benefit from a daily newsletter, while a B2B firm focusing on news aggregation to build a relationship with its prospects may only need a monthly send.

3. Review the frequency of other industry newsletters and trend reports to better understand audience preferences and expectations.

You can do this by subscribing to competitors’ newsletters and checking the latest benchmark reports from platforms like GetResponse and Mailchimp. For example, GetResponse found that once-weekly newsletters generated the most response, with performance dropping off significantly after that.

4. Review your team’s capacity for content and newsletter creation to ensure that you can realistically deliver quality content at any frequency you choose.

Your newsletter will only be successful if your team can commit the resources for content creation realistically over time. If you are unsure of your current capacity or the time it takes to create a newsletter, perform a dry run with your team from ideation to test send and record how much time each person involved in the process needed to contribute.

5. Set up a send frequency range based on your existing email quantity, your newsletter purpose, industry standards, and internal capacity.

This range represents the outer edge of a realistic newsletter frequency based on all relevant factors. Within this range, you can offer your audience options for their preferred frequency or test various send times. For example, your frequency range might be between weekly or monthly, or between once a week and three times a week.

6. Provide several choices within your frequency range to any user who signs up for your newsletter, and include the options within your opt-in process.

Some platforms, like HubSpot and AWeber, allow users to customize their preferred frequency in a process similar to the unsubscribe process. For others, it will need to be a custom CRM field that you can then use to segment your audience and send different versions of your newsletter at different times. All options you provide should be within your defined range. Over time, you can use the number of users signing up for each option as an indicator of optimal newsletter frequency.

7. A/B test your newsletter frequency by sending the email at both the low and the high end of your frequency range to identical audience segments.

Use KPIs closely connected to your newsletter purpose, like click-through rate, conversion rate, and unsubscribe rate, as indicators on which frequency wins the test.  For example, your range might be between once and three times per week. Segment your audience, then send a once-weekly newsletter to one segment and three newsletters within the same week to the other segment. Track your results for each segment to determine the winner.

8. Continue testing different frequencies until you’ve found the one with the best combination of a low unsubscribe rate and high performance on other KPIs.

The unsubscribe rate acts as a red flag, or a line crossed. If one of your tests spikes above 3%, good performance on other KPIs like click-through rate becomes less important. The frequency of that test does not resonate well with a big enough segment of your audience to look for better alternatives.

9. Continue to review your newsletter KPIs monthly to ensure that audience preferences and needs haven’t changed over time.

For example, steady rises in your unsubscribe rates or decreases in conversion rates may require a shift in newsletter frequency. Even if your KPIs remain steady, a yearly review of these steps can ensure that your newsletter frequency strategy is in line with audience expectations and industry trends.