When it comes to email marketing, there's a fine line between useful communications and spam. Finding where that line is can be tricky.
To start, every business and every customer is different. Not to mention different combinations of business to consumer and the gray area only gets bigger and bigger. There are some emails I look forward to getting every time they appear, and others that just clog up my inbox. Some of the latter get unsubscribed immediately, while others I put up with because I know one-in-five is useful so I'm willing to deal with those that aren't.
For each scenario, frequency of communication is equally important, albeit different.
On one hand, you need to communicate frequently enough that your consumers don't completely forget that they were subscribed in the first place. But on the other, too often and that unsubscribe link looks better and better to a reader.
Once a month should be your benchmark for going to long without communicating to your list. There aren't many people that will complain about 12 emails per year, and if they do, you're not providing them enough value in the emails you're sending.
As for how much is too much, that last sentence is ultimately what dictates how much you can push the envelope. In particular, that one magic word: value. That's what it's all about. You can email me every day as long as what you're sending me adds enough value to my daily activities to justify the time it takes me to read it.
Unfortunately (or probably fortunately, otherwise I'd spend all day reading mass emails), that's a very rare scenario. More likely is that I hear from companies most often when they're trying to sell me something. That's a recipe for an unsubscribe every time. This concept is illustrated well in Gary Vaynerchuk's book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, which could be better described (and is described this way by Gary in the book) as "give, give, give, ask."
The idea is that you should be providing value to your readers more often than you ask for them to do something for you. That way, when you're ready to ask for something from them, they have a solid emotional connection to your brand because you provide them with constant value. Now when you do ask, they're more likely to give back.
Ultimately, it's a judgment call based on that magic word: value. If you send weekly emails that provide good value to your readers, you can sneak one in each month that asks for something in return. On the other hand, if all you're ever doing is peddling your wares, a weekly email is probably too much, and either your subscriber numbers will drop or your engagement will.
After all, what good is having 30,000 subscribers if they all send your emails straight to the spam folder?
Photo: Flickr | epSos .de