December 09, 2007

An E-Mail Frequency Question

I recently had a discussion with an e-mail vendor.

This person recommended that e-mail subscribers receive a different number of contacts. For instance, best customers (those that click-through an e-mail to a website at least two times a year) could receive three e-mails a week.

However, customers who never interact with e-mail campaigns (though they opted-in to subscribe) should not receive e-mails, or should be asked to opt-in again.

If you have customers who infrequently interact with e-mail campaigns, but opt-out at low rates and generate profit when e-mailed three times per week, why should the contact strategy be reduced to one time per week for infrequent e-mail responders? What is the financial benefit of reducing e-mail contacts?

Your thoughts?


  1. Anonymous3:41 AM

    Elie Wiesel said "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."

    Substitute paying attention for love and opting out for hate, and you have a model for thinking about this issue: there are potentially many customers whose attention has been abused and who are now just ignoring the stuff that arrives in their inbox. They can't even be bothered to click an opt out link.

    This is simply a hypothesis, but generating data by the usual methods of testing would be relatively simple, although I suspect it may take a longer than usual experimental period to properly assess the results if the best customers click through only twice/year.

  2. Anonymous9:41 AM

    I think that grooming one's list in the manner suggested by the e-mail vendor is a practice that helps to protect the entire e-mail marketing program. Continuing to send to a non-responsive group could jepordize deliverability for the entire campaign due to the high probability that this group's e-mails are piling up in a junk or spam folder. Getting blacklisted by an ISP is a lot worse for profitability than limiting contact with some of your less productive list members.

    Even better still, marketers should accept the challenge offered by unresponsive customers and try to figure out what this group will respond to. Even when silent, our customers are still telling us something!

  3. So take me. I subscribe to retailer e-mails for informational purposes. I have no interest in buying from the retailers via e-mail, I want to see their merchandising strategy.

    How do I benefit from being purged from the e-mail list?

  4. Another example: Customer views e-mail in preview pane, sees merchandise she likes, goes to store and buys item not featured in e-mail campaign. However, the e-mail campaign drove the customer to the store.

    E-mail vendors would tell us to purge this e-mail record, because the person appears "unresponsive".

    Multichannel folks wouldn't purge the person ... they might alter contact frequency, but they wouldn't purge the customer.

  5. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Hi Kevin,
    While I agree with you that purging any customer is a mistake, I believe the purging isn't a "real" cost as you often point out, but in terms of data analysis. By cleansing it, you obviously influence the numbers. Say for example you had a campaign targeting Green Bay Packer fans last year, but many were bad or duplicate addresses, or no response in a year so possibility spam filter eat your messages each week. However, your Wisconsin numbers look much lower than they possibly really are.

    Then again, I am like you---I sign up for quite a bit of informational emails, especially from past purchases. This month I had a need to purchase software for a specific purpose, and remembered seeing something that fit, in one of those emails. I scoured back, found it from 2 years ago and purchased. Soon as I did, they called me up and asked why I hadn't purchased in last two years---well, we didn't have need. When need came, I remembered they had it. Without that email I probably would have gone elsewhere because software we purchased from them originally was nothing like software we needed now and I would not have known they offered it.
    Sketchy example, but you get the picture.

  6. I think you clean your e-mail list, but you don't stop e-mailing folks because of a theoretical arguments. Nothing wrong with lowering frequency or using better hygiene or asking the customer if s/he still wants to receive e-mail campaigns.


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