Sure, Email More; But Not Your Whole File: Experts
By Ken Magill
Not all email addresses are created equal.
As a result, while some experts don’t necessarily disagree with the concept of sending email more frequently if it results in a revenue lift, they do not recommend sending more frequently to every address on the house file.
As some readers will recall, I have been advocating for testing increased email frequency for two weeks.
As follow up, I interviewed two experts who offer a different take.
[Author’s note: Both experts quoted in this piece have a vested interest in the email marketing strategy they espouse. One represents my lead advertiser. No one needs to point this out for me.]
“We’re of the opinion that treating everybody the same with frequency is not the right approach,” said Forest Bronzan, CEO of email marketing strategy-management firm Email Aptitude. “We can radically increase frequency by orders of magnitude if it’s for that right group based on their engagement and we’ll make a lot more money. And what we’re seeing is by decreasing frequency to people who aren’t that engaged, we’re making more money that way, too.
“We’re hitting them four times a week and then suddenly we’re hitting them once a week or maybe once every couple weeks and it’s fresh, it’s new, they’re not as saturated and they’re engaging more,” Bronzan added.
To determine which addresses should get more frequency and which should get less, Email Aptitude’s technology looks at historic engagement metrics, such as opens, clicks and recency on a rolling basis.
“Someone might be in track “a” one week and they’re engaging less and they’re going to drop to track “b” [and get fewer emails],” Bronzan said. Likewise “someone might be in track “c” and receiving a few emails and then they start engaging more and more and they’ll upshift to a higher-cadence track.”
Email Aptitude applied this philosophy to men’s clothing retailer Bonobos’ email strategy and was able to increase frequency to highly engaged subscribers by two to three times, according to Bronzan. What is more, the approach decreased Bonobos’s list attrition by 84 percent, he said.
“We increased revenue for that high group … and then what we saw with some of the lower groups when we decreased it to one a week, they started to wake up a little bit,” Bronzan said. “These were folks that previously were not that engaged. They were maybe opening one email a month. Now they’re opening four emails a month and actually converting.”
In an email exchange with the Magill Report, Michael Iarrobino, product manager for FreshAddress, wrote: “[Y]ou want to increase frequency for customers where it makes sense, and it probably doesn’t take a lot of whizbangery. Look at your own data and bump it up for recent openers, and see where the clicks and revenue go. Your skittish marketer likely feels comfortable starting to test here.”
He continued: “In addition to your own high frequency/recent engagers you’d ideally want to also get those folks who do, in fact, engage and are engaging all the time with different brands, but maybe just not with you,” Iarrobino wrote. “For these folks maybe you just need to bump up the frequency to either (a) get them to start engaging with your brand or (b) get them to state definitively that you’re wasting your time trying to get them to engage.
“Then there are the folks who just aren’t engaging, anywhere. Or maybe they engage, but never at the email address your store clerk got from them when they were really annoyed and having a bad day and just wanting to get the heck out of the store,” he wrote. “Maybe you’ll get something going with these guys if you increase frequency, but I don’t blame the skittish marketer for not wanting to start here, because then the engagement metrics really do take a dip and you totally expected them to from the outset. Also, it’s likely not immediately obvious to the marketer who these guys are vs. the previous group that really can take it and perform.”
FreshAddress’s eSpend Score product segments clients’ lists according to the tactic Iarrobino outlined above.