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Ken Magill

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If it Means More Money, Darn Right You Send More


By Ken Magill

I knew when I published last week’s piece calling for shock treatment on people who continue to argue for decreasing email frequency when decreasing frequency has shown to cause revenue to drop, some wiseass was going to pop up and say something like: “So what are you saying? Mail two times a day? How about four?”

And, of course, someone did.

The short answer to those questions: Yes, and yes. As long as production can handle it.

If a marketer tests decreasing email frequency and that decrease results in a revenue hit, the argument for decreasing frequency is done.

The only logical frequency debate to have next is whether or not to test an increase. And the answer to that question is: Why not?

By all means, test it. Testing an increase in frequency is not a bell that cannot be unrung.

And for those who would argue that engagement metrics such as opens and clicks will suffer as a result of an increase: So what?

Who cares if open rates drop as long as revenue is rising?

Several years ago it became email-marketing conventional wisdom that ISPs had pretty much licked the criminal spam problem and they were about to turn their sites on the second tier of the problem: marketers with large, largely inactive files.

Soon, it was said, ISPs would begin punishing marketers who had failed to achieve some unknowable level of engagement with their subscribers.

Near as I can tell, that mass punishment has yet to happen.

Whenever an email marketer experiences deliverability trouble, the first thing a deliverability specialist will check into is the emailer’s address-collection practices.

Are you buying email addresses? Did you add a bunch of old addresses to your file that your last ESP determined to be undeliverable? Did an intern find a bunch of old addresses on a disk somewhere and add them?

From what I have been able to glean over the years, the answer to one of the above or some similar question will invariably be yes.

Also from what I have also been able to glean over the years, email deliverability is largely about data quality.

As a result, logic would hold that if an email marketer’s list-building efforts are truly permission based and ongoing data-quality procedures are in place, testing an increase in frequency will not hurt deliverability even if some engagement metrics take a dip.

Case in point: At the height of the 2012 US presidential campaign, the Obama camp sent as many as six messages a day. According to multiple reports, Obama’s email list was a donation juggernaut.

Earlier this month a report came out claiming some Democrats were grousing that Obama’s new group, Organizing for Action, was refusing to share resources with other Democrat causes.

“The operation won’t share money, resources or the priceless Obama email list with the Democratic National Committee or campaign committees that help elect members of Congress, governors and legislators,” the report said.

The reporter covering this story couldn’t be expected to know there is a good reason the Obama camp won’t share its email list, but we all know why.

Someone in the Obama camp apparently has learned a thing or two about what’s acceptable in email marketing and what’s not.

Hammering the file in the midst of an election: acceptable. Sharing it with others: unacceptable.

[Author’s note: Everybody calm down. The preceding is not an Obama endorsement and the following is not a criticism of Gingrich the man.]

By contrast Newt Gingrich somehow got a hold of my Gmail address without my permission and has been sending it mail from Gingrich Productions sporadically ever since.

Each of Gingrich’s messages that I know about has been delivered into my spam folder.

Obama sends a lot of email: Gets delivered. Gingrich sends few emails: Gets treated as a spammer. The difference: Permission.

Am I arguing against taking advantage of the increasingly impressive targeting whizbangery email service providers offer? Of course not.

But if a simple increase in frequency—the most uncomplicated button a marketer can push—might result in more revenue, there is no business argument against trying it.


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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: Kathy
Date: 2013-05-01 16:37:15
Subject: Unsubscribes

The difficulty I've had in trying to quantify the negative impact of increased frequency is unsubscribing. Once someone unsubscribes, their email address is gone forever (unless they opt back in later). Sure you might get higher revenue from a high frequency group but what about the lifetime value of someone who unsubscribes? Opting for a short-term gain, what does a company stand to lose in terms of long term gain and how can we go about trying to put a number on that?