“If a fellow wants to be a nobody in the business world, let him neglect sending the mail man to somebody on his behalf.”

Charles F. Kettering

The other day, one of my online subscribers, CR, complained about a famous Internet marketer. “I unsubscribed from his list,” she told me haughtily. “As soon as I joined, I got e-mails from him once or twice every day – and there’s no one I (or anybody else) need to hear from that much.”

This begs the question: How frequently can you e-mail your online subscribers?

Or, said another way: How much e-mail is too much?

People have lots of opinions about this issue, which they support with arguments that are both passionate and logical.

The problem is: Their opinions are wholly subjective.

The fact is: There’s an easy way to objectively and accurately determine the optimal e-mail frequency for your online subscribers.

How does it work?

Well, every time you send another e-mail blast to your list, a small portion of your subscribers will opt out.

Why?

They decide that your content is no longer of value to them… or you are doing too much selling… or they don’t like your style… or you are e-mailing them too often.

The “opt-out rate” – the percentage of online subscribers who unsubscribe from your list per e-mail blast – is a Web metric that you can measure. A 0.1 percent opt-out rate means that if you have 10,000 online subscribers, 10 unsubscribed after getting your most recent e-mail.

When your opt-out rate is around 0.1 percent or less, you can rest assured that you are not sending too many e-mails to your list too often. If you were, the opt-out rate would be higher.

But when your opt-out rate gets above 0.2 to 0.4 percent, you are losing subscribers at too rapid a rate. For instance, if you have 10,000 subscribers and you’re losing 100 subscribers every time you send an e-mail to your list, you have an opt-out rate of 1.0 percent. That’s much too high.

You should measure and keep track of your opt-out rates with every e-mail you send.

Adjust your e-mail frequency, ratio of sales pitches to content, message length, and topics until your opt-out rate hovers around 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent or less.

Then watch what happens if you increase the frequency of your e-mails – if, for instance, you go from one e-mail per week to two.

If you get a sharp upward spike in the opt-out rate – double or more – your subscribers are telling you they don’t want to hear from you that often. And you should probably drop the extra e-mail.

On the other hand, if you add an extra e-mail per week and the opt-out rate does not rise significantly, you are safe in continuing at the higher frequency.

But should you?

Yes.

We have lots of preconceived notions about what our market wants – and doesn’t want. And one of those preconceived notions is that people don’t want too much e-mail. But when the opt-out rate is low, your subscribers are telling you they DO want to hear from you often via e-mail.

That’s important, because the more times you can reach out to your list with a valuable offer, the more money you make online.

My colleague Amy Africa, a top consultant in business-to-business (B2B) e-marketing, says that one of the most common online marketing mistakes is not e-mailing your list frequently enough.

And if you are making that mistake… you are leaving money on the table.

[Ed. Note: You can make sure that you’re giving your customers exactly what they need AND that you’re making the most money you can. The best way to do it? Master one vital skill. Learn how from two experts.

And be sure to sign up for author and copywriting master Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter. Do so today and get over $100 in free bonuses.]

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Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.