How often should you contact your customers? Do you have enough content to spread out over the span of a few months? Will you be able to commit to a schedule and keep up? Many businesses ask these important questions as they're creating their email marketing schedule. Over time, the market has developed three major types of schedules most businesses use.
Strategy #1: Planning a Classic Marketing Schedule
The first email marketing scheduling strategy should remind one of old media because it imitates the style of penny-savers and newsletters: Your business emails your customers once a month, once a week, or some other consistent time frame. There may be some exceptions, such as holidays or special occasions, but by and large, this will remain consistent for a company. This may be, in fact, the least successful type of email marketing in the modern age. Unless you're some kind of unique content provider or a job listings company, these emails tend to go ignored. That's not to say knowing that you're connecting with each customer on a regular basis is a bad thing, but consider adapting to a newer type of schedule.
Strategy #2: Planning a Trigger-Based Schedule
On the other hand, a trigger-based email schedule is dictated by the customer. When they take a specific action on your site (such as signing up, buying their first product, or becoming inactive), this prompts specific emails and responses. Many, many businesses use this to great effect because it prompts action. The problem is that it can seem a little cold or lifeless when you're contacting your customers rarely in the periods when they take no action.
Strategy #3: Creating a Hybrid
I believe it is a blend of both that is required: some classic marketing touch-bases with monthly emails as well as emails around holidays and special events, as well as a heavy set of trigger-based emails. This will make the schedule somewhat irregular, which is a good thing. It will also give the opportunity for your content creators to create something that will always be a pleasant surprise. It's no wonder that so many businesses adopt this methodology: It encourages both regular contact to make them feel appreciated and irregular content to prompt real action (like sales).
Common Issues With Email Scheduling
- There's no consistent content curation. Small businesses might commit to doing a monthly newsletter, for instance, but only end up doing it when they "have time for it." The end result is a schedule that's not adhered to.
- Businesses opt for consistency over quality. If you have nothing really substantive to tell your audience besides asking them to buy, should you be bothering them at all?
- Businesses opt for quality over consistency (too much). If you haven't contacted a customer in three or four months, you may be going too far in the opposite direction. Your emails should be of a high quality, but they don't need to be (and shouldn't be) novels.
- There's no A/B testing. Just doing a schedule without seeing what works is not helpful. Your trigger-based scheduling might be more effective than your classic scheduling, but how would you know?
- Whose job is it to proofread? Quality control is important. Someone should be in charge of content curation and creation, and someone (else, hopefully) should be in charge of editing and quality assurance.
- They plan too far ahead. Scheduling far in advance is not a terrible thing, but businesses should have one ear to the ground to anticipate and adapt to abrupt changes. Is your marketing department hosting a new event in the recipient's area? Did you come out with a new product? These types of changes should be included, and they're hard to anticipate months in advance.