The Golden Rule: {Email} Cadence

While we are now fully dependent on data and metrics to drive marketing strategy, I believe we can, and should, keep fundamental concepts like “The Golden Rule” in mind as a general guide and starting point for all aspects of a marketing campaign, message, or general strategy.

Of the myriad of variations of The Golden Rule, the message is the same: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, how would or should we apply this to email message frequency, or, more specifically, message cadence?


I am often asked how many emails are too many? How many are too few? My response, and the resulting conversation often goes something like this:

Other: How many emails can we send in a week before our customers unsubscribe?
Me: When was the last time you unsubscribed from a company’s emails?
Other: Oh, just yesterday, XXXX was sending me three emails a week and I just couldn’t take it!
Me: I’d start there. Cut your six emails per week to three, check the response in your engagement rates, and test two or four after a few weeks, see if the higher or lower send counts effect engagement. Keep working it until you’ve dialed it in.
Other: It’s that simple?
Me: Absolutely not. If your two, three, or thirteen emails each week don’t offer fresh, new, interesting, and engaging content, don’t send them. Don’t tell your customers that you’re having a big sale four times in four days. That seems anxious and unsuccessful, needy. Don’t tell people you launched a new product a dozen times – it’s only new once. Keep in mind what would cause you to look away, unsubscribe, or, worse, “hit spam”, and don’t do it.
Other: But we make money every time we send an email.
Me: Are you also losing subscribers?
Other: Yes.
Me: Then you’re also losing money. Your customers will not be ready for a shift, so expect some drop in conversion. But, in time, they will become comfortable with the new cadence, they will begin to look forward to your next sale email instead of expecting it at the same time on the same day of each week. They will engage more, which will lead to them buying more. But best of all, you won’t lose them.

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