The conversation around email deliverability – the measure of how many messages actually reach the inboxes of their intended recipients – tends to be rather technical. Terms such as domain reputation, bounces, blacklists, spam traps, DKIM, SPF authentication, and Reverse DNS (rDNS) are all keywords email marketers should know.
But deliverability also has a human element. That’s because ultimately, recipients themselves have the last word in what makes it into their inbox – and what stays outside.
Looking at current statistics, one of the top reasons why people click unsubscribe is simple: I receive too many emails from this company, said 19 percent respondents in a recent MarketingSherpa survey. Among millennial internet users, a whopping 47.1 percent pointed out that “receiving emails too often” was the primary reason they unsubscribed (BrightWave). In this climate, even a perfectly reasonable email can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
When automation goes haywire
Over-emailing can happen unintentionally: Automatically triggered marketing emails – for customer birthdays, interesting products, or special sales – run the risk of firing at the same time. Throw in the occasional shopping cart reminders, product recommendations, or a weekly company newsletter, and your brand could go from online marketing to “online stalking”.
It’s time to take control of your communications cadence, but remember to think beyond finding the optimal frequency for your outgoing messages. It’s about sending your customer the content they want, and having the technology to predict when they want it. Finding the right cadence must factor in rich data points such as engagement, feedback, and consumer behavior.
The perfect communications cadence will find customers on the right channel at the right time when they are most receptive to messages that speak to their current needs. Overstep and emails will go straight to the spam folder, or worse, to global junk mail blacklists.
So follow these five communications cadence best practices to boost deliverability:
1. Assume a consumer-first perspective.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes - no matter if you’re sending a newsletter to a few hand-picked individuals or targeting thousands of contacts in your mailing list. Your customers volunteer access to their inbox so tailoring your message frequency is just good manners.
Also keep in mind that customers receive 100 to 200 emails per day. Considering that, ask yourself: How many emails are customers getting from your company? Where are customers in their customer journey and how does that affect message frequency? What message will speak to their situation at this point in time?
And since we are all consumers at the end of the day, reflect on how many emails you would personally would consider “too much”. For perspective, a current Mapp Digital survey found that 40 percent of US internet users prefer to receive marketing emails once per week.
2. Dial into personalized channels.
Forget “one frequency fits all” approaches. The most successful marketers are the ones able to capture real-time data on customers’ preferred message open times, and on preferred devices. These insights, paired with recent online behaviors, provide the foundation for send time optimization on a personal level.
It’s a winning formula: By adjusting email cadence at every step of the customer journey based on Selligent Consumer Intelligence tools, beauty company Etat Pur was able to boost sales and achieve open rates above 45 percent.
3. Automation, not over-communication.
Use your marketing automation tools wisely. As stated above, consumers may trigger several automated messages at short intervals, putting them at risk for over-communication.
Selligent’s Campaigner tool comes pre-loaded with email cadence software to limit outgoing messages per individual consumer in two ways: First, by allowing marketers to set frequency caps on the number of messages sent to one consumer during a certain time frame. This goes beyond email, as frequency caps can be set per channel (email, social, etc.).
Second, marketers can prioritize customer journeys in cases when one single consumer may fall into more than one target segment. In these cases, the Selligent cadence algorithm performs a “ranking” of all messages by importance, potentially suppressing less relevant ones.
4. Test, analyze… then send.
Before sending messages full-blast to your entire contact list, consider sending regular A/B testing using small sample groups. Bringing these insights full-circle, feedback from A/B testing can factor back into cadence plans in the Selligent platform.
Marktplaats Aanbieding, a popular deal-of-the-day website in the Netherlands, increased its customer base by 16 percent and generated a 20x ROI by using Selligent to analyze customer data and optimize email offers with A/B testing.
As an added feature for creating cadence plans in Selligent Campaigner, clients can scenario-test various priorities for various customer journeys: This allows for an immediate “big picture” view of which messages will fall under the frequency cap, and which higher priority ones are sent out to which target groups.
5. It’s all in the timing.
Marketers can use timing to their advantage by tailoring email cadence to hit time windows that promise an extra boost. These high-performance windows exist on a micro (customer-specific) and macro level (generalized trends).
On a customer level, the sweet spot in timing depends on when and on what channel customers tend to be the most active. For instance, if a customer tends to check emails on the subway ride home after work, there’s your window. Also consider what kind of lifecycle goals customers are currently pursuing: For instance, Extra Space Storage used the Selligent Lifecycle Marketing Module to target customers currently in the process of moving with precise offers for a 50 percent jump in attributed conversion rate via email.
On a macro level, widespread marketing consensus tells us that 10am on weekdays is the general “sweet spot” when people are most receptive to emails (probably to distract themselves from work). Other optimal times are 2pm and after 8pm, with open rates the highest on Tuesdays click-through rates the highest on Thursdays.
By contrast, marketers advise against heavy messaging on weekends and early Mondays – unless you are offering free all-day long caramel lattes, in which case we would hereby like to subscribe to your list.
Looking for more ways to get your message across? Also make sure to read our eBook “Three Secrets of Unstoppable Email Deliverability”.