Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

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Evidence, Please

By Ken Magill
At least one reader took exception to last week’s lead piece in which I used some Walmart analysis by eDataSource to recommend sending more email this Christmas shopping season.
I wasn’t surprised last week’s piece drew backlash. I expected more. It went against conventional wisdom. But permission-based email marketing is full of conventional wisdom that is absolute BS.
The idea that permission-based email marketers should refrain from sending email is one of the biggest pieces of nonsense in this industry.
Multiple email experts over the years have told me the majority of their clients have found if they send more email, they make more money.
I have yet to have been shown or told of a single example of a marketer who began having delivery issues simply for sending messages more frequently.
Database marketing expert Arthur Hughes--who died earlier this year--told me in 2011 that just 20 percent of clients of a major email service provider he had worked for were segmenting their email files.
Why? Because creating and managing all the different pieces of collateral is expensive. 
He said the 80 percent of the ESP’s clients who weren’t segmenting found that when they simply sent more email, they made more money.
Other experts have confirmed Hughes╩╝ observation.
So if most marketers can make more money by simply hitting send more often, but aren’t due to the advice of a vendor, they are needlessly leaving money on the table. 
And that’s a crime.
It means products and services are not being sold, money is not being made and jobs are not being created, all because of some email vendor BS.
Stop it. 
I have yet to have been presented with a single example of an email marketer who exercised best practices but got into trouble solely for sending more email.
Yet I have been presented with numerous examples of marketers sending more email and making more money.
Should everyone open the email spigots? No. I, for example, cannot send any more than two emails per week because of a promise I make when readers subscribe.
My guess is other marketers who hit their files on behalf of third parties should also be careful.
But merchants? Most of them should probably send more email than they do.
There is certainly a line somewhere frequency-wise that permission based email marketers should not cross. I contend most aren’t even close to crossing it.
But here’s the deal: If anyone out there has an example of a marketer who got into trouble solely for sending email more frequently, I would be happy to report it here.
The tagline on this newsletter is serious. My goal is to convey the truth whether it proves me wrong or not. So if anyone has any quantifiable evidence that the industry mantra of sending fewer emails is not complete BS, present it.
The example must be of a mailer—preferably more than one—who exercises best practices in every other way, and yet harmed their email program solely by sending more frequently. And the harm must be quantifiable.
I am willing not to divulge senders’ names.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: David Toushek from Return Path
Date: 2014-12-03 09:54:23
Subject: Send more IF you can see what you're doing

It depends on how you're defining "delivery problems". If you define delivery as most people do (i.e. delivered rate or non bounced rate) then yes I'll agree that many senders will be able to increase their send without affecting this fairly meaningless metric. Return Path clients measure their Inbox Placement Rate (IPR) not just their Delivered Rate. This allows them to go beyond Delivered Rates to see where their mail is actually getting delivered to -and in many cases it's the JUNK BOX! Many Mailbox Providers incorporate subscriber engagement as part of their filtering process. The more mail you send, the less engagement you may see. That may not affect Delivered Rates, but it could certainly affect your IPR. That's not to say that marketers SHOULDN'T send more mail. Many of the senders I speak to in Canada play it way too safe and they're being beaten by their competition and leaving loads of money on the table. Competition who has the visibility to measure IPR and reputation details to know when they're approaching the threshold. But those competitors don't just send more, they use data to understand what customers are looking for so they can send more of the kinds of email their subscribers want in order to maintain high engagement rates. You can't push the boundaries if you can't see the cliff.
Posted by: David
Date: 2014-11-26 08:53:30

For stores that insist on obtaining email addresses upon purchase for their mailing lists, I don't believe this to be a good strategy. They're building mailing lists from customers who feel obligated to give them their email addresses to make the purchase. Walmart, to my knowledge, does not prod at customers for their email addresses and customers who 'opt-in' truely want their emails.
Posted by: Jim
Date: 2014-11-25 18:45:16

When best practices attack, there is no safe place to hide.
Posted by: Gerry
Date: 2014-11-25 16:54:01
Subject: Sending Quantity

Agreed, my rule is simple. Does the email have a message that provides real value. As long as a value premise can be created for recipient I have never had a problem with sending too many emails.