Knowing When to Ease Up On Frequency

When it comes to the question of frequency and content strategy, how much is too much? When does it negatively impact your brand?

I used to be a fan of a certain Web site that shared industry trends and information about marketing and advertising. I liked its content so much that I signed up for its e-mail messages because I could never remember to check its site every day. As the company grew, its one e-mail became about 15 different e-mails, classified by subject. In the beginning it was great; I would read the e-mails with subject lines indicating content I wanted and would often scan headlines in the others.

And then the world changed.

I am not sure if I got busier, if the content fragmented even further, or if online media and marketing topics began to intertwine unacceptably. Whatever happened, in about three months, these e-mails started to seem annoying and overwhelming. On a busy day my e-mail inbox would have over 100 unread messages in it and 12 of them would be from one company — a clear sign that they were e-mailing me too much.

But here is my dilemma: I only want the content I want, yet the content I want appears in various e-mails from the company. There’s no way to solve this problem with a subscription form.

When I realized the challenge, I started to ask others if they have similar complaints about e-mail frequency from brands and companies they love. Interestingly, most people said yes, but for different reasons. Here are the top gripes I uncovered:

    Business updates: This is a case of the best intentions gone awry.

      The gripe: No time to read lots of words, and in some cases even open.

      The wish: Keep the frequency the same but use descriptive subject lines (even if they are long) and use bullets or headlines with links.

    Consumer product e-mails: Test into non-responder campaigns.

      The gripe: Just because I didn’t open or buy, doesn’t mean I didn’t see it. Maybe I only check this account every few days.

      The wish: Don’t just resend the same campaign with a new subject line if I don’t buy from you. Try sending me different offers or showing me benefits in a different way. Reduce your e-mail frequency to me based on my interest. Unlike a business reader, maybe I don’t get to sort through my personal e-mails every single day.

Signing up for an e-mail marketing list is not just a request for a coupon. It is a sign of interest in a brand and the information it has to offer. Even when the frequency gets a bit out of control, the interest in the information may override the potential to complain or unsubscribe.

This means it’s not as simple as looking at response rates. Approaching the messaging strategy in a way that balances your need to drive readership and revenue and the reader’s need to drive in-box sanity and organization could very well lead to a longer life span with your customer and increased revenues.

Sign up here for the Webinar, “The Future of E-mail Marketing,” presented by Jeanniey Mullen on Thursday, March 12, at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT.

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