As a retailer, your email outreach list is one of your most impactful communications tools. The customers who have opted into your list want to receive personalized updates, content, deals and promotions. When you treat your list right, your communications strengthen your relationships with your customers. When you don’t, you run the risk of alienating your customer base and depleting this valuable asset.
The Frequency/Engagement Correlation
Despite conventional wisdom, sending more emails does not necessarily generate more clicks or more sales. In fact, frequency and engagement are negatively correlated. So when you send more emails, your customers become less interested and clicks actually go down.
You don’t want to swing too far to the other side, though. If you don’t reach out often enough, your customers may forget you exist. When they see an email from you, they may forget that they opted in, and ignore the email or, worse, unsubscribe to a communication they believe is unsolicited.
Email providers have made it a priority to reduce the amount of spam delivered to their customers. If your emails go unread by a majority of your list, providers will stop delivering your messages to inboxes and will instead, mark them as spam. Getting past those spam filters once you’ve been flagged is a monumental task. When you’re relegated to the black hole of spam folders no one, not even your raving fan base, has a chance to see—let alone engage with—your communications.
“Frequency” Really Means “Personalization”
To understand frequency, it helps to reframe the way you think about email outreach. It’s not about the total number of emails you send to your entire list. It’s really a matter of sending just the right number of emails to the right people at the right time. For some customer segments, one email a month might be the correct frequency; others may want two or three per week.
The only way to discover your unique formula is to delve into analytics to determine which of your customers are engaged, isolate the factors that keep them engaged, identify the types of communications that move them to take action, and get tuned in to what they do after they open and click through your email. The real key to unlocking frequency is personalization, and personalization only happens when you leverage data.
Email Smarter, Not Harder
Retail marketers like email because it’s a simple strategy, and they send blanket emails to the entire list because it’s simple and cheap. Asking them to start segmenting might seem like a lot of work, but it’s really a matter of working smarter, not harder. Let’s say a typical blanket email campaign announcing a small sale to a million subscribers garners you $0.02 per email. Hypothetically, you would earn approximately $20,000.
But what if you segmented those million subscribers and sent them highly relevant and well-timed emails? What if your best customers received personalized deals? What if customers who hadn’t been to your store for a while got a special discount on top of the sale? What if your rewards program members were sent a message saying they could double their points during the sale? Customers are more likely to open emails that have meaning to them on a personal level. What if a targeted campaign could lift the revenue per email up from $0.02 to $0.05? This would result in $50,000 in sales—that’s an extra $30,000 in your pocket.
Tripping Over Dollars To Pick Up Pennies
Many retailers don’t concern themselves with email frequency. After all, unsubscribers are just part of the cost of doing business, right? But at some point, you’re going to run out of people to put into the funnel to replace those who leave, and if those unsubscribers are valuable customers, it will cost far more to replace that business than it ever would have cost you to nurture the business through personalized communications strategies. Don’t prioritize making a small amount of money over maintaining a strong base of customers who are actively engaged. Focus on personalization and watch the value of your email list grow.