What’s the Frequency?

Sometimes the most important thing in Mass Email is not knowing when or how to send, it’s knowing when NOT to send.

I know, those of you that aren’t involved in the active end of marketing are saying “He’s a bloody spammer…”  The truth is this – I am the gatekeeper who decides who gets to use certain cherished customer lists.  And part of that it ensuring anything that is sent is relevant to the particular user group in question.  And I strongly suggest that anyone in my position managing a customer list for email contact ought to take their job very seriously.

If you’re doing things right, you’ve got an unsubscribe list.  In my case, my email program parses against that list immediately before it sends.  If you’re on that list, your’re not getting any more email from my system, period.  As such, I need to do everything I possibly can to keep our customers from joining that particular list. 

Poorly written, poorly executed, and poorly targeted campaigns burn up mailing lists, and in my case, since the list of existing customers is finite, that means that’s one more person I can’t contact.  Sure, I could go out and buy a new list of people in the industry, but these are established users, who currently use our software.  As such, they are gold to me.  A targetted list of customers who’ve bought is the holy grail.

The problem is there are often multiple groups inside the company that would like to reach out to the customer base.  As such, I need to manage the traffic.  Sometimes that means combining emails, sometimes it means prioritizing them, and other times it means saying “no, you can’t send that.”

How do I decide what’s important traffic?

  1. It’s a targetted message our customers need to hear.  Customer support info, product update, user group, etc. all are high on the list.
  2. How recently did that group get an email?  This is a seat of the pants thing.  You’ll know when you’ve sent too much, as your unsubscribe rate skyrockets.
  3. Is this a message that would better be included in a customer support newletter or combined with something else?  If it isn’t something that stands on it’s own, it’s not getting sent alone.
  4. Are there other emails coming up which are going to be “must sends” – things like customer support holiday announcements, newsletters, etc.  Is there any way to work this in with those?

Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve said no and then had an exec call minutes later demanding I send the message.  In that case, I’ll politely explain the problem.  Burning up our customer support email list is not something we do lightly, and I guarantee, sending too often is a sure way to get everyone to hit the unsubscribe button.

The best way I can think of to keep people from pushing to burn uop your lists is to include them in the after action report.  Use your metrics to inform and advise.  I include not only the person who requested the email, but the head of marketing, the sales people dealing with that customer and anyone else that tends to use that list.  They can see abnormally high bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, and low hit percentage on our call to action – and over time that’s come to mean something to them.

Be sure to hit the right frequency on your targetted list!

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