Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Get Rid of the F-Word

  |  June 20, 2005   |  Comments

E-mail marketers think "frequency" much too frequently.

In my travels as a market analyst, a top question I'm consistently asked by email marketers is, "What should my campaign frequency be?"

What people are really asking is, "How many times can I email my customer before they complain and I get diminishing returns?" At industry events, I regularly encounter passionate sidebar conversations about frequency, almost as if we're all singing along to the REM tune, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"

My answer is simple: Send when the email is relevant.

E-mail marketers should think of frequency as equaling relevancy, and relevancy is equal to our ability to anticipate specific customer needs by understanding behavior and lifecycles. A still easier method is to think in terms of continuity. I suggest we forget the f-word (frequency) altogether and think in terms of continuity instead. E-mail shouldn't be viewed as a single event that happens X number of times a month, but rather as a tactic to push the customer through multiple steps, steps tied to a lifecycle.

Consumers don't think in terms of a set frequency of promotional messages. A Jupiter Research survey found consumer preference for email frequency is inconsistent. When respondents were asked to choose between weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly, none won out. Less than a third of respondents chose each option.

A similar survey question posed to marketers found that overwhelmingly, marketers had locked into a set frequency of weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly. In this survey, only 16 percent of marketers triggered the frequency of their campaign to a specific customer event (e.g., cart abandon) or a specific lifecycle (e.g., product). Such low adoption presents a tremendous opportunity to use continuity to improve the relevancy of email campaigns.

When crafting relevant offers, marrying the correct content to the right segment is the more difficult leg of the relevancy riddle. The other leg -- frequency -- is much easier to manage, even without sophisticated segmentation.

Try these examples:

  • Product lifecycle. A manufacturer mails offers for consumable accessories that are tied to the lifecycle of the products. This approach can apply to warranties and contract expirations. One savvy wireless carrier emails its lapsed clients after 11 months, knowing they will likely be in market for a new cell plan based on the common 12-month agreement.

  • Market lifecycle. As consumers, we find ourselves swimming against the tide of market lifecycle. Mortgages are a good example of mailing to a customer at requested intervals, such as when rates change, and doing this for only 45 to 60 days, knowing the consumer is in market only for a short time. Travel is another category most consumers tend to buy in a market lifecycle manner, such as a winter or summer vacation.

  • Broken lifecycle. Look for clues in customer behavior when a lifecycle is broken or beginning. For example, some retailers and manufacturers remove customers from email marketing offers when the customer has called for product support. These merchants replace the more offer-rich content with softer informational newsletter content.

Adopting such an approach helps limit overexposure, a perception your email is irrelevant, or, worse, that it's spam. To effectively execute a lifecycle-driven continuity approach, you need technology that allows for a mailing governor.

A mailing governor is a set of rules that guides and limits the frequency and recency of campaigns. One challenge of moving to a more continuity-oriented campaign is lifecycles and events may overlap, actually causing the customer to get more mail than before.

To guard against this, set frequency and recency caps, rules that govern how often customers will get email from the sending corporation. If you have multiple business units vying for the same customer list, use product or campaign profitability as the primary means to determine which division gets to send mail first. By doing these things well, you can limit the number of overall messages and only send the ones that are highly profitable and relevant to customers.

Next time someone asks what your frequency is, tell them you've switched to an entirely different spectrum and you're now dialed into relevancy.

David is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.

Vote for your favorite products, services, and campaigns! The ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards recognize ClickZ readers choices for achievement and innovation in online marketing technology, solutions, and execution. Voting runs until Wednesday, June 22 (EOB, EST).

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Daniels

For more than 20 years, David has been an industry proponent. Direct Magazine said David is "one of the most influential experts in email marketing, if not the most influential." Co-author of "Email Marketing An Hour A Day," David has held senior level positions at Forrester and JupiterResearch, Apple, Anthropologie, MacWarehouse, Proteam, and retailers that dotted the early days of CompuServe. David advises many industry organizations including the OTA, DMA, eec, and has been a contributor to the Weekend Today Show on NBC. Learn more about connected marketing and download free research with registration here. Follow David on Twitter @emaildaniels and learn more at www.relevancygroup.com.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Sales Planner
      Sales Planner (Verve ) - New YorkAbout Verve   Verve is the leader in location powered mobile advertising. We manage one of the largest mobile...
    • Systems Analyst/Support
      Systems Analyst/Support (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreIRIS (Increased Revenue Intuitive Software ) is proprietary software that helps marketers...
    • Client Services Support Specialist
      Client Services Support Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - Delray Beach OVERVIEW:  This position requires a highly motivated and resourceful individual...