According to research from Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB), the #1 reason why customers unsubscribe from email marketing is simple: Because a company is sending too many emails!
In many cases, it happens unintentionally. Without proper precautions, automatically triggered emails – for customer birthdays, interesting products or special sales – run the risk of firing all at the same time.
And slamming someone’s inbox with five email messages within 24 hours often leads to only one response: the “unsubscribe” button! A recent study from MailChimp found a negative correlation between message frequency and engagement – consumers engage less when bombarded with too many emails.
Better take it back a couple of notches…
The key word is communications cadence, and it’s best when personalised to the individual customer. It’s more than just finding the optimal frequency for your outgoing messages. Cadence also factors in engagement, feedback, and consumer behavior.
Leading marketers agree that communications cadence is the key to driving long term audience engagement with appropriate messages across all the right channels.
As an introduction, here are the 5 Fundamentals of Email Communications Cadence:
1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. This should always be the starting point, no matter if you’re sending a newsletter to ten hand-picked individuals or targeting 10,000 contacts on a mailing list. Remember that at one point, your customers granted access to their inbox, so tailor your content and message frequency to honor that privilege.
On average, customers are already getting 100 to 200 emails per day, so it pays to keep in mind: How many are they getting from your company (see 4.)? Where are they at in their customer journey (see 2.)? And what message will speak to their situation at this point in time (see 5.)?
2. Segmentation drives personalization. Forget “one frequency fits all” approaches. Segmentation is your friend when it comes to serving relevant content to the right target groups, and it also helps with defining the appropriate message frequency for each group.
Customer journeys – and the individual’s position therein – offer a strong basis for segmentation: New subscribers, their journeys just beginning, tend to be the most engaged, so they welcome more emails than seasoned clients (at least initially). A spike in site visits and interactions may also warrant turning up the frequency – but not without testing (see 4.).
The more behavioral and personal data you can factor in, the better: A recent Google Consumer Survey found that new and expecting parents perform twice as many searches. Serving them messages with answers to common questions adds value to any brand proposition.
3. Use tools wisely. As stated above, consumers may trigger several automated messages at the same time, putting them at risk for over-communication. Selligent’s Campaigner too offers cadence management (also called “communications cadence”) functionality that avoids too many outgoing messages to individual consumers.
Selligent’s communications cadence avoids over-communication in two ways: First, by allowing frequency caps to be set 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.).
Secondly, marketers can prioritize customer journeys where a consumer may fall into more than one target audience. Then, the Selligent cadence algorithm takes over, “ranking” all messages by importance, and potentially suppressing less relevant ones.
4. Testing is better than damage control. Email marketing pros suggest regular A/B testing using small sample groups before sending messages full-blast to your entire contact list. Feedback from A/B testing can factor back into cadence plans in the Selligent platform (see 3.). But there’s more…
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 view of which messages will fall under the frequency cap, and which higher priority ones are sent out to which target groups.
5. Timing is everything. Time is not only a crucial component of measuring progress in customer journeys (see 2.), but also affects sending messages on a micro and macro level. Time of day is crucial, and so is time of the week: Marketers from WordStream identified 8–9 A.M. on Thursdays as the perfect sweet spot for sending email newsletters, with open rates beyond 25%.
Timing also includes time of year, with the holiday season as prime time for reaping rewards with increased message frequency. Selligent client fotokasten drove engagement with a successful sweepstakes campaign in the 24 days leading up to Christmas, which engaged 45% newly registered users.
In terms of no-no’s, Marketers advise against heavy messaging on weekends and early Mondays, as well as after 6 P.M. for desktop users. But then again, mobile users tend to be active later in the day, with spikes after 8 P.M.
Ultimately, it all boils down to putting yourself in the customer’s shoes (see 1.) and using common sense: Nobody wants to be bothered with “Please take 15 minutes to answer these questions about your recent purchase” at 6 A.M. on a Monday. Where’s the unsubscribe button?!
Still not getting results? Try our free guide revealing “5 Secrets of Responsive Email Design”.