Email Frequency Strategy: Why and How to Use It to Your Business’ Advantage
Email marketing often involves a number of routine tasks: looking for email campaign ideas, writing copy, creating design and layout of email templates, alignment of email marketing activities, testing and lots of other tasks running on a loop. There is almost no time left to invest into developing hypotheses or running experiments.
According to email marketing service providers, artificial intelligence is going to free marketing professionals from their tedious routine in the nearest future. However, this hasn’t happened so far, and there are few to no algorithms that would make life easier for email marketers. We want to make marketing professionals able to create again! Our solution is to help email marketers set the rules and automate ways to follow these rules. Namely:
Set clear algorithms for the decision-making process for who and when should receive your message.
Make the process of sending messages as transparent and easy-to-manage as possible.
One of such algorithms implies deciding the rules by which an email campaign would be sent with different frequencies to different user segments. For example, active subscribers would receive a promotional email every 2 days and a blog newsletter only once a week. At the same time, it would be enough to send a weekly promotional email to customers who’ve been inactive for a while. To help you determine the optimal frequency for your email campaigns, the eSputnik team has developed an Email Frequency Strategy algorithm.
What is an email frequency management strategy?
Let’s consider the example of testing email frequency for sending regular emails to different segments. There’s a possibility that some of the contacts in your database belong to multiple segments for different types of email campaigns. In this case, there’s a risk that such contacts will receive more emails than planned.
You can avoid this by manually excluding segments from each emailing list. Such manual work takes a lot of time and requires constant monitoring. Alternatively, you can simply configure the rules (sets of matching criteria) that will do the job for you and manage the sending automatically.
The "set of matching criteria" may include the following:
A contact’s affiliation with a particular group.
A type of the email, defined by an associated tag, such as promo, triggered, or blog.
A calendar day: odd or even-numbered day, day of the week, etc.
Once you set out such rules, you’ll be able to apply them to all email campaigns in your account.
How developing an email frequency strategy works
Let’s take a look at an example of how segments and emails interact in an email frequency strategy. To do this, choose the following conditions:
Promo emails. These emails are designed to attract potential customers. In our example, it’s important that these emails are sent only to the contacts in the Potential customers segment, 3 times a week. Meanwhile, regular customers shouldn’t receive such an email more than once a week, or even shouldn’t receive it at all.
Service emails. It’s important that you always send such emails to regular and VIP customers.
Personalized offers shouldn’t be sent to VIP customers more often than once a week, with that, regular customers should be excluded from the campaign.
You can set all these rules easily and quickly using an email frequency strategy. The strategy completely excludes the intersection of contacts from different segments and prevents the sending of untargeted emails.
Take a look at the image below. Types of emails are on the X axis and subscriber segments are on the Y axis.
Step 1. Determining the groups to apply the strategy to
In our example, there are 3 customer segments:
Every contact who doesn’t fit into any of the groups will be listed under „Not included in a group“.
Step 2. Adding tags to emails
In our case, tags correspond to the type of email:
Step 3. Scheduling
Next, create a schedule for each combination of emails and tags. For each of the intersections, you’ll need to set the day of the week to send the email.
A dash would indicate that emails with such a tag will not be sent to the segment.
Promotional emails will never be sent to VIP customers or customers who don’t belong to the Potential Customers or Regular Customers segments.
Service emails will always be sent to Regular and VIP customers.
Personalized offers will be sent only to VIP customers on Tuesdays.
By applying a frequency strategy to an email campaign, you’ll be able to exclude all contacts that don’t meet the specified criteria.
Please note that the strategy doesn’t automate the launch of the campaigns and doesn’t control the time of day to send an email. Both remain the responsibility of the marketers.
Step 4. Creating a campaign report
A report for the campaign to which the strategy was applied will provide you with not only the summary data, but also all the metrics and click data for each segment participating in the applied strategy.
Email frequency strategy: who needs it and why?
First of all, such a system will benefit organizations that segment their email databases and schedule their campaigns — that is, almost everyone :)
The figure demonstrates a rough schedule for email campaigns. Once you develop a strategy, you’ll be able to safely send emails according to your own schedule.
Strategy for testing
You can apply the strategy to answer one of the most popular email marketing questions: „How often should I send emails?“. To get the most out of your emails, you have to make sure that you’re not intrusive. Your emails should be interesting, timely and relevant.
Run a split test to compare what email frequently is better for your audience. For example, you can test to see which strategy is better — two or three emails a week. Compare the difference in opens, engagement, unsubscribes and the revenue generated by the campaign.
Here are a few steps you need to take to perform such a test:
Split your customer database into 2 groups.
Use the strategy to set rules for each of the groups and each type of email campaign.
Send all types of emails to the entire database. The strategy itself will decide who to send an email to, in accordance with the rules you’ve set for the group and the type of each email campaign you’ll be sending.
An email frequency strategy for non-intrusive sales offers
It might seem that sending lots of emails is the key to rapid sales growth. Indeed, there’s some truth to it. However, the percentage of unsubscribe clicks and spam complaints would also grow, leading to email fatigue of your database. This may be due to the fact that:
- Not all users are ready to make frequent purchases,
- High emailing frequency is not suitable for your type of business,
- There is nothing relevant for the subscriber in your emails, and for other reasons.
The strategy will help you send more relevant emails rather than simply sending more emails. By applying the strategy, you’ll be able to increase the email frequency without any negative consequences and keep your subscribers engaged by sending them much more relevant content.
As soon as a subscriber moves from one group to another, the type of letters and the sending rules for it will change accordingly. For example, group Readers sending is available daily for all types of letters. But as soon as the user makes a purchase and is moved to the Buyers segment, the system will only send them only one type of emails, namely, Daily emails, and the rest of the emails will be excluded by the strategy.
Strategy for different stages of the customer life cycle
Another way to segment your audience and apply an email frequency strategy is to utilize the customer’s life cycle. Customers require different types of emails at different stages of the customer life cycle. New subscribers could get scared off by a big number of emails or outright sales offers. That’s why the Email Frequency Strategy allows you to set rules to send emails to new subscribers, as well as to potential and active customers.
Upon applying a strategy to the email list, the system runs through each segment to look for each contact. When a contact is found in one of the segments, it will no longer be searched for in the other ones.
Let’s consider the following example. When a person subscribes to an online shop’s newsletter, they’re added to a New Subscribers segment. There’s a series of 3 warm-up emails that are sent to new subscribers within the next 7 days. During this period, there will be no promotional emails and the emails tagged Promo will be sent to the Active Buyers segment.
Once a subscriber makes a purchase, they’re moved from New Subscribers to Active Buyers, they will start receiving Promo emails.
What goals can you achieve with the email frequency strategy?
The main benefit of utilizing a frequency strategy is the ability to determine the frequency of sending different types of emails to each individual customer. Basically, this will help you achieve a number of objectives, covering both marketing and operational activities of your business.
The eSputnik’s email frequency strategy will help you reach a number of marketing objectives, in particular, the objectives aimed to optimize your database management and campaign analysis tasks:
Reduce email fatigue without losing sales. The more often you send emails to all subscribers in your email list, the lower metrics you will get for each next email campaign. Implementing an email frequency strategy will allow you to reduce your subscribers’ churn and improve the subscribers’ interest in your campaigns.
Improve audience engagement. Relevant content sent to the right segment will help you raise your audience’ interest in your emails.
Run tests. The eSputnik’s email frequency strategy will allow you to test different emailing frequencies and choose the best frequency for your audience.
Analyze the data with detailed reporting. You’ll be able to get detailed analysis reports for different approaches to email frequency.
Clearing away the routine work associated with creating email campaigns for each different segment.
Automating digest and promotional email campaigns using a customizable mailing calendar.
Making it easier to build customer segments.
Strategies can be complemented with an annoyance level calculation algorithm. This is a great addition that also helps you protect subscribers for annoying emails. The difference is that, the rules for the annoyance level are set directly by the number of emails sent to each individual subscriber.