How to Configure a Frequency Management Email Test

How do you know how much email is too much for a particular segment?

Frequency and Fatigue Management have become crucial components in today's email marketing strategy. It's not just about making sure your contacts aren't getting overwhelmed by your messaging and unsubscribing, and thereby shrinking your audience. There are even more important reasons to avoid Contact Fatigue.

Email service providers also take note when your contacts unsubscribe or mark your messages as spam. Unfortunately, each time it happens, your email sender reputation takes a hit.

That means that if contact fatigue starts affecting enough of your audience, the ESPs may redirect ALL your emails to the spam folder, even for those contacts who are looking forward to your messages.

Matching the email frequency to your audience's wavelength is crucial to your overall email deliverability.

With Motiva's Frequency Reports, you can see at a glance what frequency of emails generally works for your global population. You can also filter by email campaign to get a quick look at each campaign's open, click, and unsubscribe statistics.

But what if you suspect that a segment of your audience might be open to receiving more emails than the global average? What if you think you've identified a segment of superfans? How do you confirm or refute their level of interest?

By testing, of course. Testing frequency management for a particular audience can be a little tricky, but if you follow these steps, you'll know for sure.

For this experiment, there will be four possible paths for a contact to follow. Some contacts will receive three emails over the course of a week. The next group will receive four. Another will receive five. And the final group will receive six emails in a week. 

Before We Get Started

Before you begin, there are four prerequisites: First, you'll need an audience segment that's large enough to be statistically significant for testing. If you're planning on testing an audience of only a few thousand broken down into multiple subsegments, the results may not be reliable.

Second, you'll need enough new content to cover the highest frequency. For example, if you want to know how a portion of your audience responds or engages when receiving six emails in a week, you'll need to have six new emails ready to go before you can configure your frequency test.

Third, you'll need a blank Contact Field that can be used for Randomizing your contacts. The field needs to be clear of any data, because we'll be adding data to this field during our experiment. You may need to reach out to your Eloqua admin to set this up, if there isn't one available already. In our example, it's called Random.

Fourth, we'll be using Shared Filter steps, which must be configured before setting up the Frequency Management Test canvas. The number of Shared Filters you'll need will depend on how you want to break out the contacts in your segment. For this test, we will set up three Shared Filters, which will divide the audience segment into four completely random subgroups. (If you already know how to do this, or have them in place, skip to Step 1 below.)

  • Load your Eloqua account and click the Audience Icon in Eloqua's main navigation menu. It looks like a contact card.
  • Go down to "Tools" and then select "Shared Filter," which will take you to your shared filters.
  • Click "New" in the upper right-hand corner, and a new window will appear.
  • At the top of the new window, you'll see Untitled Shared Filter. Click this text to rename the new shared filter to "Greater than 3."
  • On the right side, you will see an option at the top of the list for "compare contact fields." Drag that option into the blank space on the left side of the window.
  • Click the "compare contact fields" bar that appears in the blank space.
  • In the "select a field" dropdown, choose the blank "Random" contact feature.
  • In the dropdown just beneath, where it says "exactly," click and choose "greater than" and enter "3" in the field just below.
  • Click "Save" in the bottom left corner of the window.
  • Go back to your Add an Eloqua Shared Filter Member decision step to the canvas and connect it to the Contact Washing Machine step.
  • Repeat these steps two more times, changing the Shared Filter names to "Greater than 6" and "Greater than 9", with those values also selected from the dropdown.

Steps for Configuring an Email Frequency Experiment

Step 1: Start by opening a new Eloqua canvas and saving it. You will not be able to configure Motiva steps until the canvas is saved.

Step 2: Drag a Segment Members step onto the canvas and select the audience segment you'd like to test.

Step 3: Drag a Contact Washing Machine step onto the canvas. You may need to install this step if it's not already listed on the left side of the canvas.

Double click to configure and name it something like Randomizer. Then you'll need to select an Eloqua Contact Field source from which data will be pulled and then uploaded once the randomizing is complete. In our example, we've called it Random.


You'll skip adding a Condition and go right to Action. Select Math, and the expression to enter here is "rand," followed by two numbers, depending on how many individual tests you're planning on configuring. For our test, we will use (1,12) as shown below. This will assign the numbers 1 through 12 randomly to the contacts so they can be sorted during the experiment.


Step 4: Now, we start adding the Shared Filters we configured at the beginning. Drag the Shared Filter step onto the canvas, and select the "Greater than 3" Shared Filter. Then add another Shared Filter step with the "Greater than 6" filter selected. Then add a third with the "Greater than 9" filter chosen as shown below.

With that completed, we have the basis for our four possible paths for contacts to follow, one for each variation of emails for the week. Groups that have been assigned numbers 1-3 will receive three emails during the week. Group 4-6 will receive four emails. Group 7-9 will receive five. And Group 10-12 will receive six.


Step 5: Here, we'll set up each path for the contacts to follow based on the frequency of emails. For these steps, you'll want to choose the days of the week that historically have shown the highest engagement with your general audience. This report is shown on the Send Time tab in the Motiva web app.

You'll configure each step for the day of the week you want to send, like you would any other Simple step. Drag a Motiva Simple step onto the canvas. Since all the steps in this campaign will appear under one campaign ID, be sure to give each step a name that will allow you to keep track of the experiments when you are viewing the results in the Motiva app.

Of course, be sure Override Frequency Management is still selected when configuring these steps (it's on by default) since that's the experiment's goal.

Step 6: After configuring the first Simple step, drag a Wait step onto the canvas, and set it to hold the contacts in that step until the next scheduled send day. In our example, our second send day is a Thursday, so we'll hold the contacts until then.

After the final day of sending, drag another Wait step in so if there are any errored contacts, you'll be able to check their status.

Step 7: Continue configuring steps until you have paths for each level of frequency you'd like to test. You can see a completed canvas below.


Once the experiment has run its course, you'll have a much clearer understanding of the Contact Fatigue threshold of your contact segment.

In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at how to interpret the reports generated based on this experiment to ensure that you're making the most of the Frequency Management test. Stay tuned!

To learn more about the importance of Frequency Management, check out this article.

Ready to see what Motiva AI can do for your marketing team? Schedule a Demo!

Back to Blog

Related Articles

How to Analyze Frequency Test Reports to Boost Audience Engagement

After running a frequency test on your audience segment, it's time to interpret the results.

Personalizing Email Frequency for an Outsized Impact

Deeper frequency optimization is now easily accessible with Motiva's latest release.

Frequency Management: How to combat unsubscribes and contact fatigue

Frequency Management is crucial to marketing strategy. Emailing less frequently can ultimately...