Four people sit and stand around a table in an office meeting room. The second person from the left, a woman wearing an orange button-up shirt, is standing while holding and pointing to the screen of an electronic tablet. The three other people at the table, from left to right, are a bearded young man with in a chambray button-up shirt, a blonde woman in a shirt printed with swirls of neon colors, and a bearded dark-haired man in a yellow t-shirt. All three of them are sitting at looking at the tablet held by the standing woman. Two laptops, one open and one closed, sit on the table in front of the group.
Timing is key when planning email campaigns. You want to aim to have your emails sent when people are most likely to check their emails and open your message. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

An email marketing campaign can serve many purposes. You can use a series of emails to generate traffic to your website, build brand awareness, nurture leads through a sales funnel, and boost revenue. Some companies use email campaigns to get customer feedback or to remind someone to return to their abandoned cart and finish checking out.

Generally, there are a few best practices that all email marketing campaigns should follow, regardless of your business goal. As you plan your next campaign, keep in mind these guardrails around messaging, email cadence, and the length of the campaign.

Mapping out your cadence

Email cadence refers to the timing and type of emails you send throughout your campaign. Many businesses send out different types of emails — some promotional and some informational. Others only send one type of email. When you begin planning your marketing campaign, consider all the emails someone on your email list might receive from your company.

It’s tricky to find the right balance between sending too many emails and sending enough emails for someone to take the desired action. According to Campaign Monitor’s data, sending an email every two weeks is the “sweet spot” for getting people to read your emails without unsubscribing from your email list.

[Read more: 6 Essential Steps to Creating an Effective Email Marketing Campaign]

Of course, this timeline can change depending on the goal of your campaign. For instance, if you’re promoting a Black Friday sale, you’ll want to increase the frequency of emails you send leading up to the promotion date. Keep your customer journey in mind as you build out your campaign: What touchpoints do you need to hit before someone decides to take the desired action?

How many emails is too many?

The number of emails you plan for your campaign depends on two key factors, according to The Loop Marketing agency. First, consider the number of subscribers on your email list. “If your list is less than 2,000, sending out 4 to 8 emails a month would be the maximum recommended. If you are an eCommerce company with 10,000 or more subscribers sending out daily emails might be a good strategy,” wrote The Loop.

It’s tricky to find the right balance between sending too many emails and sending enough emails for someone to take the desired action.

The second consideration is the goal of your email campaign. Email newsletters, for instance, can be sent once or twice a month. If you’re running a sale or promotion, consider sending an email daily with unique messaging in each email. It’s important to make sure every email is different from the one before it; if you don’t have anything new to say, don’t send another email.

Timing is everything

Cadence is one piece of the puzzle; timing is another. You will want to send your emails at moments when your audience is most likely to engage with your message. Data shows that emails received on Fridays have the best open and click-through rates; Saturdays have the worst. Timing can vary by industry, however. Keep track of your email marketing campaigns to see if this schedule holds true for your audience.

There are plenty of statistics that can even dial down to the best time of day to send emails, but ultimately, it’s consistency that matters most to email audiences. “Set clear expectations for your list. Disappointment is the distance between expectation and reality. If expectations are clear, it reduces disappointment and frustration,” wrote CoSchedule.

[Read more: Email Marketing Guide for New Businesses]

Key takeaways for staging your email campaign

So, what do all these different variables mean for your next drip campaign? First, your email marketing campaign should include a series of emails that build on one another and introduce unique content with every message. There’s no perfect number of emails you should send, but keep in mind that fewer is often better.

Be consistent with your timing and your frequency. When someone subscribes to your email newsletter, for instance, let them know they can expect posts bi-weekly or monthly. Setting expectations helps reduce your rate of unsubscribes.

Finally, stage your email campaign to arrive on the days when you are likely to get the highest engagement. In practice, each of these variables together could mean you send a newsletter monthly on Fridays; it could also mean you send sale alerts every day at 9 a.m. for the five days during which you run the promotion. Test, refine, and test again to find a cadence that works best for your audience.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Connect with vendors who can meet your needs

Answer a few questions to tell us more about what you're looking for, and we'll help you reach vendors who can provide you with more information, pricing, and products.