Strategic Resends: Working Smarter, Not Harder

One of my favorite sayings is “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

I was reminded of this recently in a meeting with a client. The organization (a large not-for-profit) engaged our firm for a digital transformation (DT), a large multi-year project. This meeting was outside the scope of that; I was asked to review the email marketing plan promoting their 2015 conference.

Overall, I was very impressed. They’ve put together a very comprehensive, well-thought-out, content-marketing-focused campaign. The conference is in May and the frequency is two email messages a week (it started sometime around the first of the year) until the opening keynote. But here’s what gave me pause: every single email is unique.

On the one hand, developing totally new copy for every email is amazing. They will likely have a few standard templates that they use, but there is no repeat usage of content (with the exception of the call to action to register, which runs throughout). None at all.

They have a very well done editorial calendar that identifies topics (a mix of speakers, topics, events, etc.) for each email. It’s a beautiful plan and one that I feel confident they will be successful with. But they are not, first and foremost, a publisher. And an editorial calendar like this, with this frequency and variety of topics, can be a bear. Do they have the resources to execute? How much will it cost? Can they really keep up this pace AND keep the quality of the content high?

Knowing what I know of not-for-profits (they run lean; this client is no exception even though they are large,) I can’t help but ask myself: could they get the same end result but with less time, less effort, and fewer resources?

Put another way, could they generate the same number of attendees and the same overall revenue but spend less on unique content creation? If they could, that would increase their overall return on investment (ROI). Which is never a bad thing, especially for a not-for-profit organization.

The key to success here is strategic resends.

According to Epsilon’s Q3 2014 Email Trends and Benchmarks Report, average open rates are 31.5 percent. This client’s open rates are a little below this on average, although the initial conference emails had surpassed it. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s use the 31.5 percent figure.

So for each email sent roughly (I say roughly because open rate is not an absolute measure) 68.5 percent of the list won’t open the email; they won’t read the copy. So when you resend it, even if it’s only a few days or a week later, it will be new to them. And for those that did see it – as long as you’re not resending the same email every single week, seeing it a second time shouldn’t dramatically depress response.

Hence my recommendation that they consider strategic resends.

If the second mailing each week was a resend of a previous email, that would cut their content creation workload in half. Their frequency would stay the same, so the revenue generated should be the same (or perhaps even more, see below).

Here’s how I would have structured it, assuming a six-month advanced lead to the conference:

  • First month: develop and send one brand-new email message per week
  • Second month:
    • Develop and send one brand-new email message per week
    • Resend the emails sent the previous month, one per week, just to those who did not open each on its previous send (this will be roughly 70 percent of the list)
  • Remaining months:
    • Develop and send one brand-new email message per week
    • Make the second send of each week a resend – to the entire list – of an email that was previously very successful at driving registrations. This last piece – identifying and using emails which have proven themselves – is critical. Here’s where you have the opportunity to not just match but surpass the revenue you could generate using completely new content, which is unproven.

While this example is promoting a conference, you can use this model for any multi-effort, multi-month campaign. It will decrease the time, effort, and resources involved in development – and it just might generate more revenue than using completely new creative for each send.

Try it yourself and let me know how it goes!

Until next time,

Jeanne

Image via Shutterstock.

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