Relevancy Trumps Frequency in Maximizing Email Engagement
For years, email marketers have debated over what’s the just-right frequency for sending emails that effectively engage — but don’t overwhelm — subscribers. Is daily too often? Is weekly comfortable? Bi-weekly? What frequency maximizes email engagement?
While some suggest that marketers, as a whole, should reduce email frequency under the assumption that less is more, the reality is that frequency isn’t the only factor that drives email engagement (or dis-engagement). In fact, plenty of evidence shows that relevancy and usefulness of the content, as well as trust in the sender have a huge impact on subscriber engagement, regardless of the frequency of sends. In some cases, more may even be better depending on the strength of these other factors.
For most marketers, it’s not that the quantity of emails needs to decrease, but rather the quality of the content and the relationship needs to improve. A recent study from eMarketer has added fuel to the frequency fire, with “too many emails” cited as the number one reason buyers ignore emails. However, falling very closely behind in the #2 and #3 spots, respondents cited irrelevancy and lack of helpful or interesting content as primary reasons to ignore emails.
That suggests there’s plenty of room for marketers to improve the relevancy and quality of their content in order to overcome subscriber disengagement.
This notion has also been reinforced by a more recent report into how online audiences respond to and interact with content. According to “How Adults Consume and Filter Information Online,” trust in the brand is the No. 1 reason email subscribers open and read marketers’ emails. In fact, nearly two-thirds (58%) of subscribers say trust is more important than the content itself in enticing them to read emails.
Relevancy is also extremely important for subscribers, and it’s becoming increasingly critical for marketers who are beginning to monetize their campaigns through in-email advertising. In the same study, 67% of adults will click on an email ad if they trust the sender and nearly two of three will do so if the ads are relevant.
In fact, when they’ve earned subscribers trust, and the content relevancy is high, marketers have a bit more leeway when it comes to frequency. At Travel Media Direct, the company distributes up to 5 million emails a month to its expansive list of subscribers. While most are semi-monthly, they’re also segmented by user and their activity, so that Travel Media Direct can increase the cadence when it’s clear a user is looking to travel in the next two weeks or 30 days.
“We qualify the leads for [travel operators], so they can purchase whatever user they want,” said Travel Media Direct founder Yaniv Frenkel. For example, instead of bidding on leads for all travelers looking for a hotel in San Francisco, Travel Media Direct can filter for only travelers from a specific region, or international travelers, or any other targeted parameter looking for a hotel in the Bay Area. “This way, [operators] can target their marketing and remarketing campaigns very precisely for greater likelihood of conversion.”
Some marketers may fear that sending too many emails may get them flagged for spam, the evidence just isn’t there. In the same study of online subscriber behavior only 25% said they mark email as spam when they no longer want to receive it. The rest either wait for the next email or simply unsubscribe. While unsubscribes are definitely not ideal, it reinforces the point that by building a relationship based on relevancy and trust, marketers can still preserve their brand reputation, regardless of how frequently they send to subscribers.
While sending emails too frequently can be a factor in subscriber engagement, it’s certainly not the only factor. The relevancy of your content and the level of trust you’ve established with subscribers can be even more important than cadence when it comes to maintaining email engagement.
Despite hordes of research into what consumers want, we may never have the "Definitive Answer" to the burning question: How often should I send? But it may be somewhat misguided to suggest that all marketers should reduce their frequency because, when it comes to driving email engagement, if relevancy and trust are high, more may actually be more.
Jeff Kupietzky serves as CEO of PowerInbox, an innovative technology company helping companies monetize their email newsletters through dynamic content. Before joining PowerInbox, Jeff served as President and CEO at Oversee.net, managing worldwide operations and building Oversee's owned and operated portfolio of domain names into one of the world’s largest, establishing the company as the leader in Internet real estate. Under his leadership, the company diversified into lead generation, building several high growth and high margin businesses. Before that, Kupietzky served in leadership positions with X1 Technologies, Digital Insight (Intuit), Siebel Systems (Oracle), and Loudcloud/Opsware (Hewlett-Packard). Jeff began his career as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., developing business strategies for software, insurance and banking clients. A frequent speaker at Digital Media conferences, he has also been featured on CNN, CNBC, and in many news and business magazines. Jeff earned an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School and graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.