How To Correct This Common Email Frequency Mistake

Marketers know the importance of creating a positive experience for customers. We want our messages to be on-time, on-target, and welcomed. Somehow, when it comes to email frequency, this laser focus has a tendency to get a little blurry.

This can result in a significant loss of future revenue. 

Email Frequency: Mail Deep, Mail Often?

Despite our best efforts to recognize the need to create a personalized and thoughtful email campaign, when push comes to shove and upcoming forecasts need to be met, bad habits have a tendency to creep in.

Mail deep, mail often” – sound familiar?

And thanks to email’s low cost to play, even the most modest sales through email seem worth it. Yet, the reality is many businesses are failing to consider the significant longer term cost of hammering inboxes.

One of the reasons this fast and furious approach is so common is due to the fact brands are measuring their email performance campaign by campaign. Little, if any, measurement is based on a cumulative customer experience, which begs several questions:

  • How many of your customers fall on multiple, independently managed internal lists (e.g., online purchaser, in-store purchaser, loyalty member, product category purchaser)?
  • How many of your customers do you over-email in a given week?
  • How many are you not reaching out to enough?
  • How many of your ‘email conversion’ customers were likely to buy anyway – with or without that last email?
  • What has email frequency done to your attribution methodology?

Is your email frequency sacrificing future revenue? Find out in our research paper: The True Cost of an Email Unsubscribe.

Email is a tool to keep your brand top-of-mind. Top-of-mind, however, does not mean top-of-inbox.  In fact, if you are at the top of your customer’s inbox too often, you’re more likely to lose the privilege of being in their inbox altogether. 

Understanding the Soft Opt-Out

Research has shown email frequency to have a direct correlation with opt-outs. The more often you mail, the more likely you are to force an opt-out.

Today, brands must also recognize those customers I like to call “soft” opt-outs.  Soft opt-outs are subscribers who use auto-classification folders and non-monitored email accounts to deal with your email by choosing to never actually deal with your email.

Hard and soft opt-outs have something in common: future spend from either group is significantly lower than those subscribers with some level of positive email engagement.

So those extra emails may move some people to buy – I say may because some analyses show little or no increased customer purchase frequency based on increased email frequency. The other, often overlooked, side to this story is your excessive emails are also causing subscribers to walk away from the conversation with you entirely.

This has serious future revenue implications.

Measuring the Cost of an Unsubscribe

So, customers who explicitly unsubscribe or soft opt-out are no longer interested in what you offer, right? Not necessarily.

Some will continue buying, though typically at a lower rate than those who engage. And they often purchase at a lower basket spend amount. Are they not reaching for a broader, deeper basket because they’ve become tone deaf to your marketing efforts?

Measuring the lost revenue from opt-outs, both explicit and soft, can be straight forward. And the size of the numbers will likely surprise both you and your boss. While it’s not likely all of that lost revenue could be captured, even a piece of it can be substantial.

How many of your customers can you move into the group which positively engages with email?

Dealing with the Inevitable Push for Revenue

The next time a sales push arises – and it will – be that rational voice amid the frenzy. With a better understanding how going overboard on email frequency can have long-term, negative effects, you’ll have reason to step in and say something like:

“My email optimization guidelines say I can send between two and four messages to this subscriber this week. Let’s talk about the best content to fill those messages.”

This new perspective on email frequency will begin to move your brand into positive, respectful engagement with your customers. You’ll be on the road to a true contact strategy.

How much revenue is your email cadence sacrificing?

Over-emailing reduces engagement and revenue per customer. Don’t believe it?


Images: TargetJackhammer