The Frequency Argument, Explained

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 The Frequency Argument, Explained

by Bob Frady

One of the unmeasured yet valuable impacts of email is on a company’s brand reputation. Each “touch” with a customer is a brand impression, even when recipients may not read or even open your email. The question becomes whether the value of those touches outweighs the concern of email marketers who feel that they may be sending too much email.

In a recent client engagement around CRM, I asked a series of questions about brand engagement. The specific question was “what brands do you admire and think are doing a great job at marketing?” I asked this for brands both inside and outside of their industry vertical.

The answers fell into three groups – Core Competitors, Industry Competitors and Admired Brands.

I ran each of these groups by the data available in eDataSource to look for frequency of email communications. EDS is a great tool for benchmarking by providing an unbiased third-party view of email data

Here’s how the data broke down –


Core Competitors – There were three companies in this group – the client and two major competitors. This group averaged 35 campaigns per week. What was interesting was that all three were at roughly the same level of email sends. If you were looking only at a direct competitor benchmark, the client was slightly ahead of their two nearest direct competitors. Success!


Industry Competitors – Here’s where things get a little more interesting. This group contained competitors who offered either ancillary services to the client, or who were closely related inside of the industry. While these companies are not direct competitors, they are fighting the client for the same share of wallet. Also – while these companies are not yet direct competitors – there’s some apprehension that they could expand their services and become direct competitors.

In this group – which included 8 companies – the average email frequency shot up to an astounding 123 campaigns per week, more than 3x greater than the nearest core competitor. What’s interesting is that these are the emerging competitors that their own people think do a good job of marketing.


Admired Brands – The company mentioned by almost everyone surveyed was Amazon, who clocked in with an astounding 2,951 campaigns per week – 85 times greater than their “core” group. It’s almost staggering to thing that a company can send that much email and be successful.

Other admired companies included –

Apple              482 per week

Expedia          297

Facebook        206

Best Buy         167

Netflix             132

Nordstrom     123


All of these companies – which were identified by the clients themselves – win the frequency game. They use email marketing as both a brand and commerce building tool. They communicate often.

To be clear, Amazon is not sending 2,951 batch and blast campaigns every week. They’re built a giant database, cultured a relationship with their clients and developed hundreds of smaller, targeted campaigns that drive engagement. How much engagement? Enough so that the executives of my client recognized these companies at being leaders in their space.

So what does this mean for you? Three things:

  • Frequency is your friend – every email is a brand impression. Don’t tie yourselves down to metrics like “open rate”, as it does an extremely poor job of measuring brand impression.
  • Size matters – you can’t develop smaller, more targeted campaigns if you don’t have a big database. Every effort should be put into growing your email universe. If people don’t respond, it’s still an opportunity to build your brand and engage “sleeping” customers.
  • Know Your Competition’s Habits – The results of this data were eye-opening to my client. They were shocked that their competitors and admired companies were so far ahead of the curve when curating relationships with their customers. They knew they needed to improve their CRM efforts. This analysis stoked their competitive fire and gave everyone the backing they needed to spend the money necessary to compete.