Frequency Management: How to combat unsubscribes and contact fatigue

Frequency Management is crucial to marketing strategy. Emailing less frequently can ultimately result in higher engagement and fewer unsubscribes.

Have you ever looked at your email inbox, seen multiple emails from the same company, and just rolled your eyes and muttered, “ugh, not these people again.”

You're not alone. With the costs associated with sending an email blast extremely low, the temptation is to expose your audience to your messaging over and over. But that runs the risk of your contact opting out entirely.

Frequency Management helps avoid those scenarios, and has become an important piece of marketing strategies. It is simply a limit on the number of emails a particular contact will receive within a given period of time.

Why would you want to be in less frequent contact with your audience? There are a few reasons.

First, when companies send too many emails to their contacts, they run the risk of “contact fatigue,” which can mean those emails simply go unread, are deleted, or worst of all, the contact unsubscribes. Too many emails will result in lower overall engagement with your audience. 

Second, as much as a marketer hates to see a shrinking contact list, a greater threat to overall deliverability lies with the potential damage those unsubscribes can inflict on the email sender reputation, or sender score.

The sender score is given to a company’s email efforts, and can determine the overall deliverability of a marketer’s messaging. If a company (meaning the domain or the associated IP addresses) has a poor sender score, it can mean fewer messages getting to their contacts, even those who really want them. A few of the metrics analyzed to determine a sender score are the number of messages marked as spam, as well as the number of unsubscribes. The more frustrated a contact is with the volume of email, the more likely that contact is to mark a message as spam or unsubscribe altogether.

How Frequency Management Helps

Frequency Management within Motiva defaults to limiting emails to no more than one per day for every contact.  Let’s say you’re using the default setting so that no contact will receive more than one email a day, and you have two campaigns running. Campaign A starts on the same day as Campaign B. When Campaign B kicks off, it will check to see if any of the contacts received an email through Campaign A. If they have, then they are skipped for that day. If they haven’t received an email from Campaign A, then those contacts will receive the email for Campaign B. The next day each of those campaigns will re-evaluate the remaining contacts, and the same process occurs, ensuring that no contacts receive more than one email per day. 

Email frequency can be changed from within your Motiva instance by clicking on the Frequency tab, then selecting Configuration. You should see this interface at the top:

Frequency Management Settings

But how do you know what the right frequency is?  Motiva gives marketers insight into their company’s frequency “sweet spot” right from the dashboard, where you can view an analysis of engagement versus unsubscribe rates based on a number of emails sent per week.

The Frequency Intelligence report above shows that the "sweet spot" for this company is one to two emails per week. At three emails per week, we see a sharp increase in the number of unsubscribes, shown in red. At one email per week, unique open rates are at about 50%, while at two per week, they're still strong at about 40-45%.

Of course, there are situations where an email message needs to get to everyone on your contact list, and you can choose to override the FM settings during the configuration of any Motiva step, as shown below. 

FM Check

Another possible scenario would be if you want one campaign to take precedence over another. Going back to our example of Campaign A and Campaign B, let's say that you needed Campaign B to take priority. From the Frequency tab within Motiva, you have the option of configuring which emails should take priority:

Email Priority 2

Frequency management means getting comfortable with the idea of doing more with less: more carefully considered message content and timing, with fewer, more targeted emails. For instance, you can segment your audience and identify certain areas of interest for a group of contacts, then tailor your messages to each group accordingly. It will reduce the overall volume of emails a contact receives, while increasing the likelihood of engagement.

The bottom line is the old days of indiscriminate "batch n blast" are over. Since we now have the technology to be more targeted in our approach to communicating with our audiences, and the audiences and email providers themselves are becoming more savvy, it means developing targeted content that your audience looks forward to, and most importantly, engages with.

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