Setting your email frequency and cadence

I’ve been hearing the phrase email cadence a lot lately and its sometimes been confused with frequency. So let’s look at how frequency and cadence differ and how to set them.


If you’ve not heard a traditional UK phone ring it sounds like this

That’s a rhythmic pattern of 0.4s ring, 0.2s silence, 0.4s ring, 2s silence, which then repeats.

The cadence is the rhythmic repeating pattern and the frequency is how often it repeats. In this case the frequency is once every 3 seconds.

What does this mean in terms of email marketing?

Often there are several independent streams of email activity running concurrently and these different streams beat together to form the cadence.

Take a scenario of an offers email being sent every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a newsletter email on the second Thursday in the month and a tips email every Tuesday, then the individual frequencies are monthly for the newsletter and weekly for the tips. The timeline for all activity is shown below (offers in blue, tips in red and newsletter green bars).

The same pattern of emails or cadence is repeated every four weeks, so the overall frequency is every four weeks.

If you have automated sequences of triggered emails for welcome, post purchase, abandoned basket and so on then these are overlaid too.

Setting a contact policy

When setting your contact policy for cadence and frequency think about:

  • Setting a minimum time between emails.
  • Setting a maximum time between emails.
  • Prioritisation or suppressing scheduled sends during triggered sequences.
  • Set many emails on average per month are received per customer.

Having a contact policy like this also means that you can set a clear expectation at time of signup, which will reduce spam complaints and improve deliverability. Daily emails need not be an issue, if that is the expectation.

Make it a user preference?

Should you offer individualised contact policies as a user preference? I don’t believe it always makes sense and this will be the topic of my next post.

Acknowledgements: My thanks to @jvanrijn as it was my recent conversation with Jordie that persuaded me there was value in writing this article.

This entry was posted in Best Practice, Frequency, Strategy and tagged , , , on by .
Tim Watson

About Tim Watson

Tim Watson has over 8 years experience in B2B and B2C Digital Marketing, helping blue chip brands with successful email marketing.

He is an elected member of the UK DMA Email Council, supporting the email marketing industry. Tim Chairs the Legal and Best Practice hub of the Email Council, authoring and reviewing DMA whitepapers and best practice documentation. He is also a frequent speaker and blogger on emerging email marketing trends.

Tim works as an independent email marketing consultant providing strategic support to email marketing teams.