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Finding the Sweet Spot of Email Frequency

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By Paul Turnbull

(eM+C)—It’s all about the sale. That’s what’s running through the back of your mind when developing and executing an email marketing program. Don’t be fooled, however. Continually flooding inboxes with promotions isn’t the way to win new customers. It could even take a bad turn and alienate existing relationships.

For many, finding the right frequency to send email campaigns is as difficult as the search for the Holy Grail. In reality, the answer is right in front of you if you’re using a feature-rich email marketing service.

To get a handle on the optimal frequency, look at your previous campaign activity, pull the best and worst open results and review the intervals between sends. If you notice trends in clickthroughs, segment those subscribers in ways that make sense for the recipient. For instance, reading habits for consumers (B-to-C) vs. businesses (B-to-B) can be very different. Email cycles should correspond to the habits that become evident when analyzing reports.

During your analysis, remember to take into account the number of simultaneous campaigns subscribers received from your business. If you set up automated campaigns such as recurring or drip campaigns, be sure to take these into account along with any ad hoc emails sent. If consistent monitoring is incorporated into a program, trends will become easier to recognize and understanding the right frequency will become clearer.

In addition to reporting, don’t be tentative about asking your readers what they want. If Oprah can do it, so can you. Granted, few businesses have the content to fill 15 e-newsletters like the former queen of daytime talk, but the premise works for just about anyone. Empower subscribers to change their preferences or give them an outlet to provide direct feedback on both frequency and interests.

Here are a few simple ways to bring relief to those suffering from inbox fatigue and dissuade subscribers to abruptly end the relationship:

• It never hurts to ask. Prominently show the ways clients can update their preferences in each email you send. Make sure there are options to receive your email campaigns less frequently instead of unsubscribing entirely. This reduced frequency option could be presented with a choice between monthly digests and weekly updates. Conversely, if clients like your content and want more, make it easy for them to increase the flow.

• Offer a snooze button. Even for those who have opted into receiving emails regularly, there are times when a break is necessary (e.g., extended travel). Instead of having pages of emails from you, include an option to temporarily stop receiving emails. This can be done by adding a tracked link into your emails that lets subscribers put a hold on receiving them for a specific length of time. This requires setting up a segment/send filter that excludes sending to those who have clicked that link during a certain time period.

• Stay in touch. For those readers who choose to opt out of your email program, make sure they know there are other ways to find the most up-to-date news from your business. Ask them to follow you on Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. This ensures they know where they can pull the information from after you’ve stopped the push.

Don’t forget to properly manage expectations with reality. When clients choose to join your list(s), clearly indicate how frequently you’ll send updates. Then make sure you adhere to this schedule.

Paul Turnbull is the product manager for Campaigner.

For more information, visit www.campaigner.com.

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