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The Perfect Number of Year-End Emails…Myth or Fact?

Published by Kevin Peters

Most organizations send four emails in December. Is that the perfect number of year-end emails to send?

Is that the right number? Is it a best practice?

Maybe, to both.

The premise of a “magic number” of emails in a campaign is a myth. But as data-based insight in your own organization with your own offers and your own audience?

The optimal number is very real.

And there is only one way to uncover the optimal number of emails to send during your year-end campaign: testing.

We could end there, couldn’t we? You could slice through the inbox clutter in this year-end campaign by simply sending more emails (or less). You could test it at least. But in that situation, even with a lift from testing, we wouldn’t really know why we were getting the lift. It would be a once-and-done test.

Since the ultimate purpose of testing is a learning (not just a lift), we need to think a bit deeper. So, let’s take a quick look at what’s going on beneath the surface in the quest to stand out by finding the optimal email frequency.

Optimizing email frequency begins by optimizing email relevance

Remember when we discussed why you should test mailing on the weekends? The stakes are, once again, your ideal donor’s attention. What has changed, however, is that this time you’re not battling other organizations for your donors’ attention…you’re up against yourself.

If you just test frequency on its own, what you’re really testing is your donors’ patience…with you. To locate the limit, you have to surpass it. I doubt that’s a test you want to run.

To find the optimal frequency, we need to optimize email effectiveness. Think of it like solving for peak value vs. solving for peak apathy. We want to find the peak value we can add with email not just how close we can push our subscribers to the cliff’s edge before they voluntarily hurl themselves over just so they don’t have to read another email from you. See the difference?

The key to email effectiveness is relevance.

MECLABS email messaging optimization heuristic
If you are sending relevant offers, then you shouldn’t fret about donor fatigue. The MECLABS Email Messaging Optimization Heuristic is a useful tool for thinking about email frequency.

The perfect number of year-end emails

There isn’t a “magic number” of campaign emails. There is an optimal number. That number depends on the quality of your email and the condition of your relationship with your subscribers. Boost the relevance of your emails this year-end campaign and you can send more without losing attention.

Send more email that’s relevant, and you’ll score a double victory in this EOY campaign: you’ll stand out and deepen the relationship with your ideal donor.

Remember: Relationship requires relevance. Relevance dictates frequency. More emails will make you stand out, but effective emails will make you stand out in the way you want.


Not sure if you should hit “send” on another email? Activate the free Year-End Fundraising for Online Fundraisers course right now:

During this 4-session course, you’ll not only dive deeper into creating an effective email timeline, but you’ll also learn all of the essential ingredients needed for a successful campaign, as well as ideas on how to optimize each part based on data, research, and learnings from thousands of online fundraising experiments.

Activate your free access to the certification course now at 

Published by Kevin Peters