Email Cadence: What Is It & Optimization Tips

Email Cadence: What Is It & How To Optimize It Right

Email Cadence

Email cadence guides you when and how often you should reach out to your customers. Think of it as your personal plan that helps you decide what messages are right and what are the perfect times to send them to keep your audience excited. It’s like sending a series of three friendly emails to welcome a new customer – first to say hello, then to introduce your products, and finally to offer a special discount.

What Is an Email Cadence? The Definition

An email cadence is a planned sequence of emails sent over a specific period of time as part of an email marketing strategy. Think of it as a schedule that tells you when to send out each email in a campaign to engage your audience without overwhelming them.

The goal is to keep you connected with your subscribers by providing timely, relevant information or promotions. By carefully timing these emails, you can guide your audience through a journey, from learning about your product or service to making a purchase.

Effective email cadence involves understanding your audience’s needs and behaviors. This means sending the right number of emails at the right times to encourage action without causing email fatigue.

What Is the Difference Between Email Frequency and Cadence?

Understanding the distinction between email frequency and cadence is crucial for effective email marketing. Both concepts play a vital role in how you connect with your audience, but they address different aspects of your email strategy.

Email Frequency

Email frequency refers to how often you send emails to your subscribers over a certain period. This could be daily, weekly, monthly, or any other interval you determine fits your marketing goals and audience preferences. The primary focus of email frequency is on the quantity of emails sent.

Email Cadence

Email cadence, on the other hand, is about the timing and order of your emails. It involves planning the sequence of emails in a way that logically progresses your audience through your marketing funnel or customer journey. Cadence is more concerned with the strategic distribution of content over time to maximize engagement and conversion.

Main Differences Between Email Frequency and Email Cadence

Here’s a table highlighting the key differences:

AspectEmail FrequencyEmail Cadence
FocusQuantity of emails sentTiming and sequence of emails
GoalTo determine how often to send emailsTo plan when and in what order to send emails
StrategyAims to maintain regular contact with subscribersAims to guide subscribers through a journey
OutcomeCan lead to higher engagement if optimizedEnhances customer experience and journey

Why Email Cadence Matters

Email cadence matters because it plays a crucial role in building and maintaining a healthy relationship with your audience. It’s not just about sending emails; it’s about sending them at the right time and in the right order.

  • Email cadence helps prevent subscriber fatigue. If you send too many emails too quickly, subscribers might get overwhelmed and unsubscribe.
  • It ensures your messages are relevant. By planning the sequence of emails, you make sure that each message builds on the previous one. This could mean sending a product introduction email, followed by a deeper dive into its features, and then an offer or testimonial.
  • Cadence supports your overall marketing goals. Whether you’re looking to nurture leads, educate customers, or drive sales, the right cadence can guide subscribers through the customer journey. A well-timed series of emails can move a subscriber from awareness to decision-making more effectively than random, uncoordinated messages.

Types of Email Cadences

Email cadence is not a one-size-fits-all strategy; it varies depending on your audience, goals, and the type of message you want to convey. Understanding the different types of email cadence can help you tailor your approach to meet the specific needs of your subscribers while achieving your marketing objectives.

There are various email cadence types and categories, each designed for different stages of the customer journey, ranging from initial engagement to post-purchase follow-up.

Lead Generation

  • Cold Email Cadence  This involves sending a series of emails to potential leads who have not yet interacted with your brand. The goal is to introduce your company, offer value, and establish a connection. A cold email cadence typically starts with an introduction, followed by emails that provide more details about your products or services, share customer success stories, and finally, a call to action.
  • Sales Email Cadence – Aimed at converting prospects into customers, this cadence focuses on moving leads through the sales funnel. It starts after initial contact or interest and includes follow-ups, product information, special offers, and reminders. The key is personalization and timing to nudge the prospect towards making a purchase.

The three main stages of a sales funnel, shown on a graphic

The three main stages of a sales funnel

Frequency-Based Engagement

  • Daily Cadence Emails – These are sent out every day to keep your audience engaged and informed. Daily emails work well for time-sensitive content, daily deals, or a series of educational content delivered in small doses. However, this type requires careful consideration of your audience’s preferences to avoid email fatigue.
  • Weekly Cadence Emails – Weekly emails strike a balance between staying in touch and not overwhelming your subscribers. They are suitable for newsletters, weekly roundups, or providing regular updates on topics of interest. This cadence helps keep your audience engaged by providing consistent, anticipated content.
  • Monthly Cadence Emails – Monthly emails are ideal for longer, in-depth content that offers significant value, such as comprehensive guides, company updates, or detailed industry insights. This cadence is less intrusive and can be effective for maintaining a connection with your audience without the pressure of frequent communication.

Campaign Objectives

  • Product Launch Email Cadence – This series is designed to build anticipation and momentum for a new product or service. It usually begins with a teaser, followed by more detailed emails about the product features, benefits, launch date, and post-launch follow-up.
  • Feedback or Survey Email Cadence – Sent to gather insights from your customers about their experiences with your product or service. This type of cadence might start with an invitation to participate in a survey, followed by reminders and a final email to thank participants for their feedback.
  • Renewal or Subscription Reminder Cadence – Aimed at subscribers or customers whose subscription or service period is ending. This cadence includes reminders leading up to the renewal date, special offers to encourage renewal, and last-minute reminders to prevent churn.

How to Define Your Email Cadence

Finding the right cadence involves understanding your audience and goals, experimenting with different approaches, and continuously refining your email marketing strategy based on data. By taking these steps, you can determine the frequency and timing that best aligns with your business goals and audience’s preferences.

Key Steps to Define Your Email Cadence

We’ll explain each step separately to assist you:

  1. Define Goals of Your Email Campaign
  2. Determine Your Target Audience
  3. Segment Your Audience
  4. Study Data on Email Frequency by Industry
  5. Try Sending Different Types of Content
  6. A/B Test Various Cadences
  7. Empower Subscribers to Edit Their Email Preferences
  8. Monitor and Analyze Your Email Metrics

1. Define Goals of Your Email Campaign

Start by clarifying what you want to achieve with your email campaign. Whether it’s increasing sales, driving website traffic, or enhancing customer loyalty, your goals will guide the structure of your cadence.

2. Determine Your Target Audience

Understand who you’re communicating with. Consider demographics, interests, and behavior to ensure your messages resonate with your subscribers.

Various demographics respond differently to digital advertising and email marketing campaigns due to distinct preferences, habits, and technological fluency. For example, younger audiences, such as Millennials and Gen Z, are generally more receptive to emails that incorporate interactive elements and visually appealing designs. They value authenticity and social responsibility and tend to engage more with brands that reflect these values in their messaging.

On the other hand, older generations like Baby Boomers and Gen X may prefer more straightforward, informative email content. They appreciate clarity, relevance, and value, often favoring emails that offer detailed information about products or services without the fluff.

Behavioral differences are significant too. Younger users might check their emails on mobile devices, making it crucial to optimize emails for mobile viewing. Older demographics might spend more time reading through each email on a desktop, allowing for longer content forms.

To ensure your messages resonate with your subscribers, it’s essential to consider these demographic nuances.

Note

For more insights into how to target your marketing messages effectively across different age groups, our article on generational marketing can provide valuable guidance.

3. Segment Your Audience

Not all subscribers are the same. Segment them based on factors like purchase history, engagement level, or interests. This allows you to tailor your cadence to different groups, making your emails more relevant.

To do this effectively, you’ll need to collect data on your subscribers. This can include their purchase history, how often they open your emails, and what they click on. It might also involve gathering information about their interests through sign-up forms or surveys.

With this data in hand, you can create segments of your audience. For example, you might have one group of subscribers who frequently purchase from you, another who only engages with certain types of content, and yet another who has just joined your list.

To manage this segmentation and tailor your email cadence accordingly, email automation tools are essential. These tools allow you to automatically send different emails to different subscriber segments based on the criteria you set.

“List cleaning and database segmentation are key tools to grow and maintain a strong healthy email marketing list.”

– Ronan Hickey, Marketing Consultant, quoted in the State of Email 2024 Report by Mailmodo

4. Study Data on Email Frequency by Industry

Look at industry benchmarks to get an idea of how often businesses similar to yours are emailing their subscribers. Use this data as a starting point to find a sending frequency that fits your audience.

For example, in the retail industry, it’s common for businesses to send emails frequently, sometimes even daily, especially during peak shopping seasons like the holidays. This high sending frequency is due to the fast-paced nature of retail sales.

In contrast, industries like finance or B2B services may send emails less frequently, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly. This is because their content often requires more in-depth engagement, such as reading analysis reports or exploring service offerings, which customers might not have the bandwidth to do daily.

For the tech industry, especially SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, the frequency might be somewhere in the middle. These businesses might opt for a weekly or bi-weekly cadence to update subscribers on product updates, industry news, or usage tips without overwhelming them.

It’s important to use these industry benchmarks as a starting point rather than a strict rule. The ideal sending frequency for your emails also depends on your unique audience’s preferences and behavior.

Note

According to the 2024 State of Email Survey from Mailmodo, about 40% of marketers reported sending between 1 to 4 emails monthly to each of their subscribers in 2023. This translates to sending up to one email per week to each subscriber on average.

Average number of emails sent to each subscriber in 2023 - a pie chart

Source: State of Email 2024 Report, Mailmodo

5. Try Sending Different Types of Content

Mix up your content to keep things interesting. Newsletters, promotions, educational materials, and updates can all play a part in your cadence. See what types of content your audience responds to best.

Types of marketing emails most commonly sent in 2023 by percentage of marketers - a graph

Source: State of Email 2024 Report, Mailmodo

6. A/B Test Various Cadences

Experiment with different email cadences to see what works best. Try altering the number of emails and the spacing between them for different segments of your audience and measure the impact.

For instance, you might send one segment of your audience an email every week and another segment an email every two weeks. By comparing the performance of these two cadences, you can identify which frequency resonates better with your audience and leads to higher engagement or sales.

Note

Most email marketers report that their company’s active email list consists of fewer than 100,000 subscribers, accounting for 29% all subscribed users. On average, these subscribers are sent 2-4 emails monthly by the marketing teams, as reported by 35% of the surveyed marketers.

 

Source: The 2023 State of Email Workflows Report, Litmus.com

7. Empower Subscribers to Edit Their Email Preferences

Give your subscribers control over how often they hear from you. An email preference center can help prevent unsubscribes by allowing users to adjust the frequency and type of emails they receive.

Consider letting users customize some of the following:

  • Types of Content: Subscribers can choose the kinds of content they’re interested in, whether it’s updates, promotions, news, or educational content. For example, a user of the Runkeeper app might opt for workout tips over promotional offers.
  • Frequency of Emails: Users can decide how often they want to receive marketing emails. Options can range from daily, weekly, to monthly updates, giving them control over the volume of promotional emails they engage with.
  • Location-Related Content: Allowing subscribers to receive content relevant to their location can greatly enhance personalization. For instance, users could receive notifications about local events or store openings.
  • Custom Notifications: Subscribers might have the option to set notifications for specific events or milestones, such as achieving a new fitness goal on the Runkeeper app.
  • Product Updates: Users can choose to be informed about updates to the product or new features, ensuring they’re always in the loop about improvements or changes.

Example of email preferences management options for users of Runkeeper app

Email preferences management options for users of Runkeeper app

8. Monitor and Analyze Your Email Metrics

Keep an eye on key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. This data will tell you if your cadence is working or if you need to make adjustments.

Note

For more tips on evaluating marketing success, our article on measuring marketing performance can offer further insights.

Email Cadence Best Practices

Finding the correct email cadence is a unique journey for every business, its niche, and audience. However, there are several strategies universally recognized as beneficial for all marketers looking for an optimal email cadence.

Consider These 11 Tips

  1. Use Buyer Personas
  2. Match Frequency with Behavior
  3. Personalize Smartly
  4. Build Triggers
  5. Use Free Trials to Nurture Leads
  6. Follow Up After a Purchase
  7. Embrace Seasonality
  8. Don’t Be Too Aggressive
  9. Offer Rewards
  10. Run Surveys
  11. Use Email Cadence Tools

1. Consider Using Buyer Personas

Understanding your customer’s mindset is crucial for email campaign’s effectiveness. Developing buyer personas can be a game-changer in this process.

Buyer personas are detailed descriptions of your ideal customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers. They help you understand your audience’s needs, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. By aligning your email content and cadence with these personas, you can ensure that your messages are timely, relevant, and engaging.

This approach not only improves open and click-through rates but also deepens the relationship between your brand and your customers.

A case study by MarketingSherpa proved that implementing buyer personas has brought 111% increase in email marketing open rate and an overall 171% increase in revenue generated by marketing.

Source: THM Agency

2. Match Frequency with Behavior

Adjusting your email frequency based on customer behavior ensures that your communications are both welcome and effective. If a subscriber frequently opens and interacts with your emails, they might appreciate more frequent updates. Conversely, for less engaged subscribers, reducing the frequency can help maintain their interest without overwhelming them.

This practice prevents email fatigue and keeps your unsubscribe rates low.

3. Personalize Smartly

Smart email marketing personalization goes beyond using the subscriber’s name in the email. It involves tailoring the content, offers, and even the sending time to the individual preferences and behaviors of your subscribers.

Use data analytics to understand what each segment of your audience prefers and customize your emails to meet these preferences. Utilizing first-party data—information collected directly from your audience through interactions with your brand—enables a deep level of customization. This level of personalization enhances the relevance of your marketing emails, leading to higher engagement rates.

Personalization statistics from Twilio-Segment State of Personalization 2023 Report

Source: State of Personalization 2023 Report, Twilio Segment

4. Build Triggers

Trigger-based emails are automated messages that are sent in response to a specific action taken by a user, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or abandoning a cart. These emails are highly effective because they are timely and relevant to the user’s immediate actions or interests. Setting up triggers for different customer actions can significantly boost your engagement and conversion rates.

Trigger email example from a gambling website

Trigger email example from an online gambling website

5. Use Free Trials to Nurture Leads

Offering free trials and sending a series of informative emails about how to make the most out of the trial can nurture leads and guide them towards becoming paying customers. These emails can include tips, success stories, and reminders about the trial period’s expiry, encouraging users to subscribe or purchase.

Free trial offered by Moosend email marketing software

Source: Moosend

6. Follow Up After a Purchase

Sending a follow-up email after a purchase can enhance customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business. These emails can thank the customer, provide useful information about the product or service purchased, and offer support or resources. This practice helps build loyalty and encourages positive word-of-mouth.

Post-purchase tutorial example from Grammarly

Marketing email with tutorial for new users of Grammarly

7. Embrace Seasonality

Adjusting your email cadence to match seasonal trends, holidays, and events can make your emails more relevant and engaging. Plan your email campaigns around these periods to maximize open and conversion rates by tapping into the current interests and needs of your subscribers. This strategy is especially effective for companies whose offerings are particularly relevant during certain seasons, enabling them to capture heightened interest and demand.

Seasonal email message example from Trello

Seasonal email message for Thanksgiving. Source: Trello

8. Don’t Be Too Aggressive

If a subscriber consistently ignores your emails, consider reducing the frequency of communications or even pausing them. Bombarding unresponsive leads with emails can lead to increased unsubscribes. Sometimes, less is more.

Note

Just over half (51%) of subscribers have trust in brands to safeguard their personal data and utilize it responsibly.

Source: State of Personalization 2023 Report, Twilio Segment

9. Offer Rewards

Offering exclusive discounts, rewards, or early access to new products to your email subscribers can be a powerful incentive for them to stay engaged with your brand. It’s a way to show appreciation for their loyalty and encourage continued engagement.

In an email example below, subscribers are offered gift cards in reward for leaving a feedback and reviewing their experience with using an online tool, making it a great combination of offering rewards and encouraging user input.

Email example offering a gift card for reviewing a product

Source: Similarweb

10. Run Surveys

Sending out surveys to gather feedback about your products, services, or the email content itself can provide valuable insights that help you improve. It also makes your subscribers feel valued and listened to.

Example of gathering feedback through a marketing email by Similarweb

Survey email example from Similarweb

11. Use Email Cadence Tools

Leveraging email cadence tools can automate and optimize your email marketing strategy. These tools help schedule and send emails based on behavior triggers, subscriber preferences, and other criteria, making it easier to manage complex email campaigns.

Popular email cadence software includes:

Mailchimp

Mailchimp Email solutions screenshot

Best for: Small to medium-sized businesses looking for user-friendly email marketing solutions.

Mailchimp offers an all-in-one email marketing platform with automation, personalization, and analytics.

  • Price Range: Free plan available, paid plans start at $9.99 per month.

HubSpot

HubSpot Email Marketing Tools screenshot

Best for: Businesses of all sizes seeking an integrated marketing and sales solution.

HubSpot’s email marketing tools are integrated into a comprehensive CRM platform, enabling seamless marketing and sales alignment.

  • Price Range: Free plan available, paid plans start at $45 per month.

SalesHandy

SalesHandy Email Solutions screenshot

Best for: Sales teams and email marketers who want to streamline their email communication, and improve their email outreach strategies.

SalesHandy is a sales engagement and email tracking platform designed to help sales and marketing professionals optimize their email outreach efforts.

  • Price Range: No free plan, free trial available. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Final Word: Find Your Unique Email Cadence Formula

Finding your own email frequency and a unique cadence formula is the key to successful email marketing. Achieving this requires thorough research, A/B testing, and an in-depth understanding of your customers. Tailor your messaging to your audience’s preferences and needs, striking the right rhythm that keeps subscribers engaged.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Email Marketing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a marketing cadence?

A marketing cadence refers to the rhythm or schedule of marketing activities and communications aimed at engaging existing and prospective customers. It involves strategically planning the timing and frequency of marketing efforts, such as email campaigns, social media posts, or content publication, to optimize interactions with the target audience. The goal is to maintain a consistent level of contact without overwhelming the audience.

 
What are successful email cadence examples?

Successful email cadence examples seamlessly integrate with customer journey milestones. A welcome series kicks off immediately after subscription, introducing the brand over the first week. Educational content series, spread across weeks, position the brand as an industry leader. Abandoned cart emails are timed within 24 hours, followed by reminders. Re-engagement campaigns rekindle interest and may include an exclusive offer. Lastly, a post-purchase follow-up thanks customers and offers additional value, like product tips or feedback requests.

 
How do I set up email cadence?

Start by defining your objectives and understanding your audience’s preferences. Next, segment your email list based on customer behavior or demographics. Then, decide on the frequency and timing of your emails, ensuring they align with your audience’s engagement patterns. Use email automation tools to schedule your series. Finally, monitor performance metrics like open rates and click-through rates to refine and adjust your cadence.

 
What is cadence in social media?

Cadence in social media refers to the rhythm and schedule of your posts across different platforms. It’s about finding the right balance in how often you post to keep your audience engaged without overwhelming them. A good social media cadence takes into account the unique characteristics of your audience on each platform, as well as the type of content that resonates most with them.

 

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