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Ken Magill

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Don't Cut Frequency; Work at Not Sucking First

9/2/14
 
By Ken Magill
 
Given a choice, 69.7 percent of respondents to a survey published by email service provider Blue Hornet would rather hear from businesses through email.
 
This is compared to 17.7 percent who said they prefer direct mail and 1.8 percent who said they prefer text messages.
 
Also, 5.2 percent indicated they preferred email and text messages, according to Blue Hornet.
 
As a result, 74.9 percent of consumers either prefer commercial email or are at least open to it.
 
Granted the findings are in line with Blue Hornet’s business model, but how skewed can they really be?
 
People overwhelmingly prefer email as their commercial communications channel. 
 
To be fair, 44.1 percent of respondents said they get too much email. This is the kind of stat that often leads marketers to consider cutting back on frequency. “How can we make sure we don’t annoy subscribers by sending too much email?” is a question often asked at email conferences.
 
But I would bet if we questioned further the 44.1 percent of respondents who say they get too much email, we would find that they get too much email that contains no value.
 
It’s not volume, it’s value—or lack thereof.
 
In my own unscientific and slightly informed opinion, I would like to hold up Woot as an email program that should be considered for imitation.
 
Woot sends a daily digest, a frequency some experts would contend is too high. But the deals are great and the copy presenting them is highly entertaining.
 
For example, in promoting movie-related merchandise deals, Woot’s copy said: “Eric thinks you'll like this movie-related stuff. If so, buy them! If not, tell him in the comments that he sucks.”
 
In copy promoting an 18-piece Pyrex storage set, Woot said: “This 18-piece set can hold, in total, 30 CUPS worth of whatever! Unless the whatever is Pyrex-devouring aliens.”
 
And in copy promoting a Google Nexus 7 16GB tablet, Woot said: “If you want pixels, boy oh BOY! This Asus Google Nexus has pixels. Pixels out the wazoo! (Wazoo not included with purchase.)”
 
Woot is fun and offers value on a daily basis. And for those who don’t want daily emails, Woot’s daily digest has a big button on top that says: “Daily Emails? Are You Nuts? Stop Sending Me These!”
 
Clicking the button brings up a web page that says: “you’re unsubscribed. You have been removed from the Daily Digest email list. You will receive one last email, and maybe a creepy voicemail because we know we can work this out.”
 
Then it says: “Having second thoughts already? Take us back!” 
 
“Take us back” links to Woot’s email signup page.
 
And as I mentioned, Woot’s bargains are great. Our latest Woot purchase was a GPS for my truck for 30-some dollars.
 
It’s a rare company that can incorporate both Woot-like bargains and whimsical copy. Deep discounts aren’t always a possibility and understandably not aligned with some brands. Also, truly talented writers are rarer than one might think. Trust me. I’ve done my share of interviewing, hiring and mentoring.
 
The point is too many email marketers think frequency first when they should be thinking of content and value. As I’ve stated in this newsletter before, send stuff people want and frequency won’t be an issue.
 
If your email marketing program sucks from a value and presentation perspective, then, yes, you’re sending too much email.
 
But maybe you should work on not sucking before considering cutting email frequency. 
 
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