This April, Bronto hosted our second annual User Summit. We had numerous sessions on all facets of email marketing, from transactional messages to list growth to segmentation. I presented on a combination topic: holiday planning and frequency.
I have written extensively about holiday planning and analysis previously (see bottom of post), so I want to write a follow-up on how to effectively send more emails that results in a net gain in revenue.
I often hear the following from clients: "We need to send more frequently." And listen - I'm in the email business, so that's always great to hear, but all kidding aside, I tend to caution clients before they leap off the frequency cliff to really evaluate the reasoning behind that statement. What need are you addressing by sending more frequently? Yours or the consumers'? For most marketers, the answer is "Yours". Consumers are savvy to this and are tuning out.
The biggest issue I run into with clients that want to send more frequently is addressing what additional value that additional email is providing. Is it content that the subscribers will be interested in? Is it a "blast" email that we just hope sticks with someone? If the extra email isn't actually providing something extra to the subscriber, rethink sending. If you lose the subscriber's attention due to over-sending, your truly valuable messages are going to get ignored as well.
And the inbox is only becoming more crowded. According to Forrester, by 2014 the average email user will receive 9,000 marketing messages per year. That equates to 25 marketing emails hitting their inbox every single day.
To compound the problem, ISPs can only accept so much mail at a time. So the more you and everyone else ramps up email frequency, the harder it will be to
- Get to the inbox in a timely fashion.
- Get through at all.
With all of that said, even though many marketers approach it with a flawed strategy, sending more frequently can not only be okay, it can bring in massive dollars. As long as you are setting expectations early in the email relationship, you can break out these tools to ramp up sending. Let's talk through a few of the ideas:
- Remailing. The easiest of the bunch, you can remail based on email behavior ([non-]opens, [non-]clicks, [non-]conversions). You can also remail when you have a major sale or promotion to push with messaging like "Last day!..." But be smart and don't overdo remailing by pulling this trick for every campaign.
- Segmentation. By segmenting your audience, you enable yourself to send more frequently based on behavior or preferences. These types of messages tend to be more valuable to your subscribers (remember to always address "What's in it for me?" from the end user's perspective), so they also tend to produce one of the highest ROIs of any type of email campaign. We've talked about segmentation quite a bit in the past.
- Automation. Creating automated messages to supplement your mass market campaigns like abandoned cart, site behavior, reorder reminders, and other types of triggers will produce incremental lift by deploying a send around current interest and behavior.
- Holidays. In addition to the Q4 holidays (see below for ideas), you have other holidays throughout the year to utilize. Chad White over at The Retail Email Blog posts some of the best examples of holiday campaigns to provide inspiration. In addition to the traditional US holidays, if you have an international audience, don't forget some other opportunities like Boxing Day and their national birthdays. You can also consider some holidays that are off the beaten path - like National Garlic Day if you have cooking or food products that could utilize garlic. Don't go crazy, but explore what's out there. Also, don't forget that birthdays and anniversaries are subscriber-specific holidays that you should be taking advantage of.
Don't be afraid to test sending more frequently, but be smart about it. Have an end goal in mind beyond "We need to message this promotion" or "We need to hit our revenue goals for this month" and always, always keep the subscriber in mind. Put yourself in their shoes and ask "Will I want this email?" If the answer is no, put down the trigger finger.
What other ways have you found to increase sending safely? Share thoughts below.
Holiday posts for reference:
- Holiday planning checklist
- 2009 Best last-minute holiday tactics - Part 1
- Top five post-holiday tactics - Part 2
- 'Tis the season for Q4 holiday analysis
Marketing Strategist at Bronto