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7 Email Cadence Best Practices for Better Email Marketing Campaigns

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Theres much more to email campaigns than drafting up some copy and hitting send.

One of the most crucial components is email cadence: the pulse, pace, and playbook of a successful email campaign. In other words, if you can get the right emails to the right customers at the right time, you can get a lot of mileage out of your email marketing efforts.

Lets take a deeper dive into what an email cadence is and establish the fundamental principles of structuring a successful one.

The success of an email campaign can hinge upon the effectiveness of its cadence.

If your cadence is too intrusive, obnoxious, or directionless, you can lose out on opportunities to guide leads through their buyers journeys. If potential customers feel pestered or confused by constant, irrelevant newsletters and promotions, they probably won’t stick around to hear what you have to say.

Email Marketing Frequency

In a recent HubSpot Blogs survey of 300 marketers, a whopping 95% reported their email marketing strategy was effective in 2021. Let’s take a look at where (and when) they’re finding success.

Email Frequency

When it comes to frequency, here are a few stats to know:

  • Emails sent on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday get the most engagement.
  • Marketing emails sent from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday garner the most engagement, followed by Monday and Wednesday at the same time.
  • The weekend is a dead zone for engagement — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday have the lowest open and click-through rates.

Another study by Databox found that 33% of marketers send weekly emails, while 26% send emails “multiple times per month.” In addition, 63% said they adjust their send frequency for less engaged subscribers.

Of course, some marketers send emails more than once a week, while others send less. As youll see later, the “right” email frequency is not an exact formula. Instead, it depends on your business and audience.

Here are some best practices to employ to ensure your next campaigns email cadence is the best it can be.

1. Understand your goals.

What do you want out of your email cadence? You need to understand where you’re trying to lead your prospects and customers. Are you looking to improve traffic to your blog? Drive e-commerce sales? Schedule meetings? Close deals?

An email cadence guides buyers from point A to point B. You cant do that if you have no idea what “point B” is. Your ultimate goal will dictate the strategy behind your cadence. If youre trying to do something like increase traffic to your blog, you can stand to lose more subscribers than you would if you were trying to court a group of sales leads into scheduling demos.

If youre sending emails purely for the sake of sending emails, your cadence will be aimless and haphazard. Plus, youll waste a lot of time and resources on email campaigns that go nowhere.

2. Try to understand each customer’s mindset.

The whole point of having an email cadence is to hone in on messaging that will resonate most with a specific customer at a given point in time. That means one-size-fits-all, “throw everything at everyone,” impersonal emails wont cut it. You need to send your recipients something relevant to who they are as a customer. That often means understanding where they are in their buyer’s journey.

The buyers journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and ultimately decide to purchase a new product or service. Its divided into three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

You cant expect to target buyers in all three stages with the same message and have it immediately register with them across the board. Different stages — and engagement levels within those stages — warrant different messages.

Additionally, through the wonders of automation, coordinating this kind of strategy is possible. Several kinds of email and marketing automation software allow you to set up the proper infrastructure to tailor email content and timing to suit different leads’ behavior and interests.

3. Personalize when you can.

Think back on all the targeted emails companies have sent you over the years. How inclined have you been to click through ones addressed to “valued customer,” or “to whom it may concern?” I don’t think its outrageous to assume the answer is “not often.”

Why would your customers be any different? A successful cadence relies on your leads clicking through your emails and progressing through their buyers journey. If youre sending impersonal mass-email blasts, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best, your prospects may wind up suspended in buyers limbo.

Fortunately, theres a variety of email software that allows you to personalize your subject lines and email content to cater to specific leads.

4. Don’t be too shy.

When planning an email cadence, you shouldnt err too much on the side of “I don’t want to bother you.” Its easy to get anxiety about losing leads by coming off as obnoxious or intrusive, but you have to understand theres a difference between being pushy and professionally persistent.

You’re missing out on sales opportunities if you’re not consistently sending out emails. A big part of email marketing is keeping your prospects and customers engaged. You might become an afterthought if a lead only gets an email from you once every two months.

Email cadences are a matter of strategically striking while the irons hot. You cant do that if youre too reluctant to strike at all.

5. Don’t be too aggressive.

Even though you shouldnt be too passive, you don’t want to be overly aggressive. There‘s a movie from the 80’s called Say Anything. It has an iconic scene where the main character stands outside his love interests window and serenades her by blaring a song called “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel from a boombox hes holding over his head. She swoons over it, and they ride off into the sunset together on a lawnmower ( … for some reason).

Its romantic and compelling. But, if he did that twice a day, every day — playing similar, anthemic 80’s rock songs on her front lawn — shed be over it pretty quickly. Hed have to take his lawnmower and Peter Gabriel cassettes somewhere else.

Thats essentially what sending emails too frequently in your cadence is like. If your leads receive obtrusive, daily reminders and promotions from you, theyll unsubscribe from your mailing list.

6. Hone in on the right frequency for your business.

Theres no magic figure when it comes to email frequency. Its going to vary from business to business. It may take some time to get the right feel for how often you should be sending your emails.

Studying your industry averages for email frequency can provide a solid place to start. A prominent fashion brand routinely sending out new promotions and coupons probably isnt going to have the same email frequency as a midsize B2B SaaS company looking to set meetings with decision-makers.

Email frequency isnt an exact science. Its probably going to take some trial-and-error before you find one that best fits both your business and customers interests.

7. Give your subscribers autonomy.

Always give your subscribers the option to control their own email frequency. Giving them this kind of autonomy can keep them from unsubscribing from your mailing list outright if your email frequency seems like a bit too much for them. Include a link to allow them to update their email preferences as they see fit at the end of your emails.

Customers dont always approach email frequencies in absolutes. Even if theyre overwhelmed by how many emails youre sending them, they still might want to keep hearing from you. Give them the freedom to pump the brakes. If they dont have the flexibility to do that, theyll probably just cut you off.

You should always be putting the customer first. Their personal interests take precedence over what you might believe to be your preferred email cadence.

Back to You

Finding your ideal email cadence might not happen with your first series of automated emails. Still, there are certain actions you can take to take to put yourself in the best position to find the one that works best for your business.

Your main priority should always be your prospects and customers interests. Try to understand where they’re coming from, where they stand in terms of buying your product or service, and what they might want out of you and your business, and cater your email cadence around that.

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MARKETING

State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MARKETING

MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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