Evidence, Please: Expert Responds
By Ken Magill
Derek Harding, managing director of Javelin Labs, last week responded to my call for evidence that increasing email volume—and increasing email volume alone—hurts permission-based email marketing programs.
For the last two weeks, I have been asserting that industry conventional wisdom that permission-based email marketers should strive to send fewer email campaigns is BS. Multiple experts have told me that when their clients send more email, they invariably make more money.
I have been calling for evidence to the contrary.
Harding provided some.
In an email to me, he wrote:
During the run up to Black Friday, a company we work with upped their mailing volume considerably. By considerably I mean I received 2 messages a day up to Black Friday and five on Black Friday. To my knowledge frequency is all they changed. I don't have visibility of all the impacts but I'm attaching their senderscore graph.
[SenderScore is a service that email intelligence firm Return Path offers to help marketers determine their email reputation.]
As you can see as they upped their volume down went their rating. Generally speaking, if you're below 90 you may well experience bulking and blocking [getting email sent to the spam folder or blocked altogether]. Their score hit 71 yesterday while before upping their volume they were holding close to 100.
Is this definitive proof that high volume harms programs? No of course not. However it is evidence that you have to be careful and that just sending more email is not an entirely safe tactic.
When I responded that it wasn’t necessarily the solid evidence I was looking for, Harding rightly pointed out that in order to get the kind of evidence I want, a marketer would have to stand up and say “look what a failure we are.”
Harding finished our exchange with points worth considering:
I think that many companies can send more than they do, no question. I don't see that as a blanket statement though for the following reason.
There is an upper limit on frequency, we all recognize that. If we take sending more as a blanket statement we have to also presume that virtually all companies are sending less than they should/could. To put it another way, everyone has got their frequency wrong. I think that's a poor assumption to make and frankly insulting to every email marketer.
I think marketers should test their campaign frequency based on their own KPIs [key performance indicators]. Those KPIs may not (only) be per-campaign attributable revenue. Long term revenue, customer retention, brand perception, content and resources can all affect your ideal frequency. So "send more" sounds great and creates buzz. But like many such statements I find it simplistic and hence limited in applicability.