How much is too much? Frequency management and control

So a few of you have heard from me the Digital Body Language (DBL) message at a few email/marketing conferences this year and how the use of it can better target your users a message that is more relevant to their habits or wants.

Eloqua CTO and Co-Founder Steven Woods did a great post on his blog about frequency and the use of DBL to help manage it. He to receives the old age questions of how much is to much when it comes to email.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
How much is too much? Frequency management and control

One conversation I end up in a lot with clients is the "how many
times can I email a person per month?" conversation. Unfortunately,
there is not a magic number, and attempting to govern around one can be
damaging.

The reason that there's
not a magic number is that email is only useful in the context of
building a relationship, and in a relationship communication frequency
changes dramatically depending on the type of relationship and where
that relationship is at the moment. Think of this question in terms of
your communications with your friends and family – how many times per
month do you communicate with your spouse? kids? Aunt Hilda? Neighbors?
Old friends from school days? The answer is that it depends on the
relationship.

It's the same thing in B2B
marketing. If you are actively engaging with a prospect, and they are
highly interested in what you are offering, they will want, and
appreciate, frequent communications. However, if you're only lightly
engaged with someone, and they have only displayed minimal interest,
you will turn them off with more than a communication per month in many
cases.
The answer is that you have to manage this from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

There
is not a top-down X emails per month number that you can manage to.
Instead, you need to understand your audience in terms of how much you
have communicated to them and, more importantly, how engaged they are
with you, and use that to guide communication frequency.

Use
your understanding of your audience's response to your marketing (their
Digital Body Language) to segment them into groups. Use communication
frequency and response frequency(email opens, clicks, form submits, web
visits, etc) to define three segments:
  • High Engagement: you have sent them many communications, and they have shown great inbound interest
  • Moderate Engagement: you have sent them some communications, but their inbound activity remains occasional
  • Low Engagement: you have communicated with them, but they show little to no inbound activity
From
here, you can then use these segments to build a bottom-up frequency
management structure. Look at your communications and define what
category they fall into. If they are a "required" or "all recipients"
category, you may not suppress against any of the groups (eg,
registration confirmation for events the recipient just registered for,
or the quarterly thought leadership newsletter). If the messages are in an "active interest" category, you may suppress
Low and Moderate Engagement segments from receiving them (up to the
minute news, detailed product information, etc), and if the messages
are in a "moderate interest" category you may only suppress the Low
Engagement segment.

This gives you a good
bottoms up model for structuring your communications strategy to avoid
over-communicating with some of your recipients (causing Emotional
Unsubscribes: http://digitalbodylanguage.blogspot.com/2008/12/emotional-unsubscribes.html) without preventing the formation of deeper relationships with those who are showing great interest.

I look forward to your comments or experiences with managing communication frequency.

-Dennis
Eloqua

Don't Just Send, Deliver!

Dennis Dayman

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