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Which Is Better for Email Marketing: Weekly Emails or Monthly Newsletters?

For years I’ve been sending out a monthly newsletter, but I’ve been wondering if there’s a better email marketing tactic I haven’t tried.


You see, I’ve been getting weekly emails from a couple of people that I love. And I mean loooove. I love them so much that I will stop what I am doing and read them as soon as they hit my inbox.


And I wonder if they are onto something.


Is a weekly email that’s highly focused better than a longer monthly newsletter that’s more general?


Why I started doubting monthly newsletters


I’ve always sent a monthly newsletter, because I don’t want to overwhelm my list. I just want to pop in, say hi and share some info that might be of value.


My newsletters are not long. Because word count doesn’t even come close to 100 words, it probably takes 30 seconds to read. Here’s last month’s newsletter.


I include introductions two blog posts from the past month, a 5 Business Rules video (that I record with my friend Nicole) and a funny meme.


The name of the game of skimmability. Want to read the articles or watch the video? Click on the link. People do click, but they typically only click on the article that I highlight in the subject line and the video.


Because I’m so afraid of sending out too much content, I only highlight two of the past month’s four blog posts. (All of my blog posts go out on LinkedIn and Twitter.)


Anyway, you can see why I’m thinking it’s time to make a change.


I did some research, and I think I have an answer.


What I found about email length


Surprisingly, I didn’t find much about marketing email length. But I did find general rules of thumb about sales and ecommerce emails.


Research done by Boomerang and Constant Contact were quoted all over the web (I first saw the stats in this article).


Boomerang found that emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%.


Constant Contact found that emails with approximately 20 lines of text (aka, 200-ish words) had the highest click-through rates.


Based on the amount of text in my newsletters, my emails are short enough.


What I found about frequency


What I found out about frequency aligned with what I thought. People prefer fewer emails. In this article, I learned:


  • Emails sent once a month have the highest open and click-through rates (28% and 7% respectively)
  • Emails sent 2-4 times a month have lower open and click-through rates (21% and 5%)


Instead of paraphrasing the article’s author, I’m including an entire quote (emphasis my own):


“Within the B2B niche, most companies tend to send emails twice a month. Upping that frequency to more than once a week skyrockets the unsubscribe rate. Here, the old and reliable approach of one monthly update with a couple of relevant articles works just fine – this does not overload the inbox, doesn’t annoy your recipient, provides just enough value for them to appreciate your emails, and keeps you top-of-mind among loyal customers.”


OK, then. I guess I’m doing OK! Especially since my open and click-through rates are higher than what’s quoted above.


So, what about those weekly emails I love so much?


Like I said above, I am borderline obsessed with my friends’ weekly emails. And you know why? They include valuable, interesting ideas and tips.


Zach sends out a weekly email called “What’s Good.” Here’s a screenshot of one from last month that I kept:


What's Good? screenshot


Nicole doesn’t have a name for her weekly email, but it also includes some good stuff:


Social Light weekly email screenshot


Both of their emails are short. With one exception, I don’t think any of them have cracked 200 words (Zach sent a longer email following the catastrophic breakdown of the power grid in Texas, where he lives).


And then there’s Scott Galloway (aka, Prof G), who is not a friend but is super cool and I bet we’d be get along famously if we did ever meet in person.


Anyway, Scott sends a weekly email, too – and he breaks all the rules. It’s long. And it’s sent on Friday afternoons.


Doesn’t matter. I love it and consider it a must read (this was from last week and had me in tears):


No Mercy/No Malice from Prof G


What does mean for your email marketing?


What works for you is entirely dependent on two things: The value you provide, and what your audience prefers.


If you want to improve your email marketing, start with the content. Is it helpful to the reader?


Not sure? Look at the past year’s emails. What are people opening and clicking on?


If you want to dig deeper, send out a short survey to find out what topics they’re most interested in and how often they want to hear from you. (To improve response rates, offer a $10 Starbucks card to a winner chosen at random.)


As far as frequency, one or two emails per month seem to be the sweet spot for B2B companies.


However, let’s not throw weekly emails into the burn pile just yet. I talked to Zach and Nicole about their open rates. Zach’s open rate is in the 30 – 40% range. Solid. Nicole’s is in the 30 – 55% range. I’m sure my pretend friend Scott’s is even higher.


We can help you not only figure out whether to do weekly emails or monthly newsletters, we can handle the implementation, too. If you’d like to get this off your plate, give us a shout.

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