Holiday Email Frequency Questions? Call Your Mother!
How can I tell when I'm sending too many emails?
Inboxes will be slammed during the holidays, especially around peak events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the final days of guaranteed Christmas delivery. You need to monitor your email program for signs of fatigue and frustration. Downward trends in opens may mean that your messages aren't hitting the inbox at the right time or that your subscribers may be exhausted. Keep a close eye on spam complaints and unsubscriptions. A spike in spam complaints could lead to your messages getting blocked and you having to untangle the issue. A simple rule of thumb: If you feel like you are overmailing, you probably are.
My boss said "send more, we'll make more!" What do I do?
While you may see a short-term boost in sales from simply mailing more, you run the risk of annoying your subscribers in the long term. Think of it this way: Your mother would love for you to call her more, but eventually you would run out of things to talk about and she'd stop picking up the phone. The short-term pop in engagement you get by inundating your subscribers' inboxes will likely be followed by a drop in opens, clicks and conversions along with a boost in unsubscribes.
You can, however, find ways to strategically and thoughtfully increase mailing frequency while lowering these risks. If you're forced to "send more," (and I know some of you will be!) segment subscribers based on engagement with recent campaigns and target content based on those interactions. Nonopeners can get out-of-the-box subject lines. Switch up the email design and call-to-action strategy for nonclicking openers. Reinforce urgency to buy for nonpurchasing clickers.
While there's no magical formula to calculate holiday email frequency, you can leverage historical holiday data and trust your marketing gut to make informed decisions as you ramp up your sends. When the stress and panic of the holiday rush sets in and you feel pressured to send more than originally planned, remember how these last-minute decisions can have a long-lasting impact on the retailer-subscriber relationship. Now, go call your mother. She'd love to hear from you.
Jim Davidson is the director of research at Bronto Software, an email and marketing automation provider.