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It’s All About Timing . . . Or Lack Thereof

By December 9, 2015 No Comments

Have you noticed the ads and digital messaging lately? No sooner did the candle go out in the Jack-O-Lantern when the Black Friday sales were served to us before the Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, while you were enjoying the Summer and Fall, Black Friday became a season and not a one day retailing event. This time of year also brings yet another season – “Emailoliday”. Known as a make-or-break time for retailers, this time of year is also the busiest period for email marketing. Volumes skyrocket as companies try to maximize sales during this critical time. Finding the right balance of communication frequency for email campaigns can be complex but not impossible.

When asked, almost everyone says they are receiving too many emails. In fact, new Direct Marketing Association research shows most successful brands send an average of five email marketing messages per month with very few exceeding eight. This is the classic case of risk versus reward. Not sending enough emails to your prime customers could result in missed opportunities, reduced visibility in your audience’s inbox and sporadic or inconsistent emails that trigger doubt in the shopper’s mind. Too many emails (the Gap sends one to its lists every day!) hurt a brand’s reputation, increases in unsubscribe requests and results in overall less engagement. So how do you know how many to send? There is no clear cut formula, but there are some common sense things and a good checklist to consider.

Since the ultimate goal is selling, the traditional selling cycle still applies. Sending a targeted message to a customer who is ready to buy and not just window shopping is going to increase the chances of a conversion. So it stands to reason that you simply can’t send too many emails that are relevant. The shopper is ready to take action. Clearly, sending irrelevant emails is worse. This battle has raged for years and now many experts say sending more is probably the safest. What you are trying to do is satisfy all your “Goldilocks” of the world to find out what is just right.

Here’s a quick guide on how to ensure that subscribers are receptive to your messages this holiday season.

Brand Engagement
Some customers are more committed to and engaged with a brand. Even though increased communication can increase commitment, it can also have the opposite effect. Increasing frequency for highly engaged customers and lowering for less engaged customers can help avoid negative behavioral responses from subscribers.

Customer Journey
The selling cycle still applies even if it is done electronically. Where an individual is in their customer journey will have a significant impact on their receptiveness. Developing positive behavioral signals while suppressing messages on negative signals will influence the buyer without alienating or barraging.

Content
Customers are far more receptive to quality content so they will accept it more easily. However, if you don’t have the resources to create enough compelling content, adjust your content and contact calendar, rather than delivering sub-par messaging.

Product Lifecycle
If the customer sales process has a short-cycle impact on frequency, product lifecycle has a long-cycle impact. Constant daily messaging makes little sense for an organization with a high cost, low purchase frequency product set. Furniture, cars and real estate would be classic examples. Adjust frequency based on where each customer is in their own lifecycle.

Seasonality
We circle back to why we are considering this now. Whether or not the holidays are a major sales time for your organization, adjusting to seasonality can be a wise move. Send more emails leading into and during your busy season and pull back on the send volume in the off-season. We clearly see that in the leading outdoor brands who plan their schedules around the hunting, fishing or camping seasons.

Though there is no doubt that many marketers can and should be sending more frequent emails, there are limits. Despite the easy advice, one size certainly does not fit all. For best results: know your business, know your customers, and understand how the two relate in order to effectively personalize and optimize your results. Understanding the customers, their preferences and then delivering the message in an unexpected way has always been the best way to fulfill everyone’s holiday wishes.

Author Cliff Callis

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