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Should Subscribers Choose Email Update Frequency?

A really interesting discussion about permission marketing and social media was sparked by last month’s Ask the Readers question, and we’re looking forward to an even better one this time around!

This month’s ask the readers topic is something I’ve personally been wondering about for a little while.

Have you ever been to a blog where, in the sidebar subscription box they offer you an option of different ways to receive content? Like posts as they appear, or a weekly/monthly digest of good stuff?

There are good arguments going both ways.

On the one hand, you want your subscribers to see everything you publish – what good is a subscriber list if they don’t bother reading everything? And further, don’t you have the right to decide what kind of relationship you want to create with them?

On the other, you’re here to serve your readers, and if they prefer to get fewer emails with more content in each one – shouldn’t you let them?

Should you offer your blog visitors a chance to subscribe for a weekly or monthly digest of blog posts instead of receiving them as they come out?

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think!

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at PayingforLife.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

39 comments

  1. One thing that I found worked well for me is that on an annual basis, I send out an email asking my subscribers if they would like to stay on my list or unsubscribe – after a year of my info, they know whether we are a good match. The UPSIDE to this, I’ve had so many positive comments from my subscribers about actually taking the time to ask them – it makes them feel valued.

    1. That’s a good idea.

      When I have something important to say and I need people to follow, I’ll tell them to unsubscribe if they’re not going to do as I say.

      It weeds out people who shouldn’t be there. This has nothing to do with buyers/non-buyers BTW, it’s just that if you’re teaching someone how to run with an egg balanced in their nose and they haven’t bothered to practice walking with one first, then the only thing they’re doing by being on my list is boasting my ego lol.

  2. I think they should accept what’s given, if people use their list as a sales funnel.

    Sending out different messages at different times just makes it harder.

    I only send an email once per week. If people don’t want to read one email per week I’d be happy for them to get off my list.

    1. It’s good to have a point at which you know someone is better off not receiving your emails – although it can be hard to get used to the idea.

  3. I’ve never unsubscribed from a list just because of their email frequency. If their message is a good read I let them keep coming. I may not read every email, but hitting delete is easy. I only unsubscribe if the content ceases to be relevant to me. If you’re unsubscribing because the daily email is annoying, I’d suggest the writer has failed to capture your imagination. And if that’s the case, any frequency will be too much.

    1. Can’t argue with that! Except for those who will never be happy with too frequent emails – epic content saves the day again. Thanks for commenting!

  4. I think when you give a choice you enhance engagement because you “listen” to your subscriber.
    I would also think that an easy way to manage your subscription later on should be offered.
    There is a better chance for me to follow and read – if I get material at my convenience, which might change over time.
    As for listening to what your buyer wants – isn’t buying usually a later stage after you engage and build trust? It seems to me this is one easy way on that mission.

    1. I think that’s an important point as well, Ruthy – that the stage your reader is at makes a big difference in the choice you make. Thanks!

  5. I think, the frequency of email delivery can depend on the content. I would prefer to receive seasonal gardening tips as soon as they are posted, but I can safely wait for a monthly review of copywriting techniques and to have a month ahead to try and choose between them. So, if a website offers information for”all times”, I would like to have an option to choose a delivery schedule.

    1. Good point about the relevancy of the content – I think that might vary a lot between people though – one woman’s gardening tips could be another’s copywriting. 🙂

  6. This topic has come up a lot in recent months; I actually started a conversation about it in the Social Media Club I’m in. It’s a delicate dance for sure.

    Number ONE I think frequency expectations and tolerance is different between B2B and B2C. If your target market is business owners, they’ll be more tolerant of an increased frequency as long as the information is of value to them. Non-business-owner consumers are not so tolerant of having their inbox bombarded, and certainly not more than once per week.

    You need to look at what your buyers want, BUT you also need to be concerned about putting off potential buyers. I think for the most part people who open your mailings (or the majority of them) and don’t unsubscribe are warm leads.

    Once per week is plenty; and extra ones thrown in if you’re doing something special or a launch of some kind. I would give people a choice. If my preference was to send multiple times per week, I would also offer weekly and maybe monthly options. I would add a permanent note to my newsletter at the bottom reminding them they can adjust the frequency anytime and include a link to where they do that.

    As far as opt-in boxes, I wouldn’t state the frequency in the opt-in box. And at some point during the opt-in process I would let them decide how often they want to receive mail. I would NOT wait until they hit unsubscribe… by then you’ve already irritated them.

    Better to have them receive emails on their terms than to unsubscribe completely. And you can still include all your recent work. If it’s ok to showcase an example: Natalie Sisson (The Suitcase Entrepreneur) just re-formatted her newsletter and the last section is a list of her current posts on her blog, articles, guest posts, etc. In this format you can have the best of both worlds… let people know exactly what you’ve been up to, in a frequency that’s convenient for them, and in a format that easily lets them determine what’s relevant to them. Win-win-win!!

    1. Thank you so much for the incredibly detailed comment Debi – you express yourself so well, and hit on great points on both sides of the argument. Very interesting note about B2C vs B2B.

  7. If I like you, I am not going to unsubscribe just because you e-mail me every day. If you are providing valuable information that helps me in my business, keep it coming as often as you like!

  8. Horses for course, no right answer for everyone.

    Only downside to Walt and Danny’s comment is that there can be some readers who may only become buyers much later for reasons entirely unrelated to the effectiveness of your marketing.

    The importance of this group will vary depending on the niche.

    Personally, I would rather have a subscriber opt for fewer emails than opt out completely. But I am not convinced that it is a good idea to offer choices up front, offering a lower frequency as an option when a subscriber hits the unsubscribe button might be a better tactic.

    I have taken that choice with a few newsletters I had intended to unsubscribe from.

  9. Listen to the BUYERS, not readers.

    Buyers enjoy and tolerate daily emails. Readers who had no intentions of ever buying anything… not so much.

    Listen to what your BUYERS want.

        1. Readers can become buyers. I know this was my case with Firepole Marketing. However, I easily feel overwhelmed by too many emails, e-zines, name it, to read, and if I don’t have an option to opt out for some of it, I do it all together. This is why I will offer my readers (aka potential customers) to choose between daily digest or weekly update. And since I am covering different subjects on my blog, I might as well let them decide which subjects they want to hear about, using my post tags.

          1. Maybe there could be some differentiation between blog updates and your other planned mail-outs in that regard – I know I’d hate if someone opted out of everything remotely sales related!

  10. I definitely like the idea of choosing. Whenever people have a choice, they tend to buy in to things more. Personally, in terms of frequency, 1 e-mail per week is enough for me, and I’d like to see at least 1 per month.

  11. I think you should give readers the choice up front. This brings them into the decision-making which, I’d think, most folk would respect. Then, as they become familiar with your offerings, you might perhaps want to give them one final chance to change their mind.

  12. I agree with giving them a choice — and then reminding them regularly that they always have a choice about how often they want to hear from you. It shows respect for the reader’s time and that sort of concern helps build real relationships.

  13. Personally I love the weekly digest or monthly digest. It depends on the blog or information. Some information I want more often than once a month. Like so many other people getting email daily, or even worse, several times a day is nothing but annoying!! Nothing will make me unsubscribe faster than multiple emails a day… and by then it’s to late to save me by giving me the choice to switch to a weekly digest…I’m too irritated by the company that I want nothing to do with them. I feel that they don’t care about my time, they know how many emails people get every day, yet they feel they’re information is so important that they need to send you emails several times a day? Not a chance!
    I am just now building my business and I will offer a daily, weekly and monthly digest; the choice is theirs to make!!

    1. I know when I’ve been offered the choice, as a reader, it gives me a warm fuzzy when I get the option – but Keri made a good point about it cluttering the subscription process – what do you think of that?

  14. Nothing irks me more than getting daily or multiple emails a day from someone. I don’t have time to sift through all of these and I definitely don’t have time to stay on-line and watch endless videos to see if they are even relevant to me.

    That’s the number one reason I unsubscribe. Daily emails is way too much. Especially if you are getting them from multiple sources.

    The best solution I’ve seen, and the one I like the best, is the weekly newsletter with links to all of that weeks posts.

    That way, I have an opportunity to click on the ones I want to read. Doesn’t fill up my mailbox, but still gives me all the content I need.

    1. I agree – daily emails are the worst!

      Getting a weekly digest can be great – but how would that make you feel as a content producer? I can see where someone might have an issue with content being looked over because it’s part of a bigger group.

      Thanks for your comment!

  15. Good question! I don’t think you should offer it up front; it’s just another decision for them to make, and makes for a more cluttered sign-up form that looks like more work. I don’t think it would convert as well (but that’s just a hunch, I’d be curious to see results if someone tested it!).

    The best way I’ve seen it done was one email newsletter I subscribed to. They sent almost daily updates, which was too often for me, so I hit the unsubscribe link in the email. On the unsubscribe page, there was an option to have less frequent emails instead of unsubscribing, so I chose that, and took note to try that myself!

    1. I can see that being a useful technique. My worry would be that Someone was annoyed enough with me to hit unsubscribe – it feels like a Hail Mary play, you know?

      Maybe there’s a middle ground – I know I’ve gotten emails where I have the option to manage my subscriptions.

      Thanks for your input!

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