Using adaptive frequency to deliver customer-centric marketing
Are your email campaigns falling short of expectations? Are your inactive subscribers continuing to build no matter what you try?
Let’s take a hard look at some trends we’ve seen in the market that can make or break your email marketing efforts.
In our experience leading member engagement strategy for clients across industries and around the globe, there’s one question that comes up more often than any other: How frequently should I email my customers? Do customers prefer to hear from you monthly, weekly, daily? Even more often than that? It’s a crucial question to answer, because receiving too many emails is the number one reason consumers unsubscribe from a brand’s communications.
There are countless hypotheses on how frequently you should communicate with your customers, and every customer has a different opinion on the subject as well.
The truth is, there is no magic number for optimal contact frequency. It varies with virtually every brand on the planet, and with every individual customer. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to the question, there is a simple solution to finding the optimal frequency for each customer. The key is a customer-centric approach we call “adaptive frequency.”
Through our intimate relationship with customer loyalty, we’ve noticed three major factors that can make or break your efforts to optimize contact frequency. To use adaptive frequency in your digital campaigns, you need to own your customer journey, listen to your customers’ preferences, and embrace marketing automation. And, above all, focus more on solving your customers’ problems than on your own promotional cycle.
1. Own your customer journey. Mine your customer data for key points of inflection such as how often customers search your brand, visit your website, open your emails or shop your store. Then, make a comparison to how often you are sending them emails. In our research, we have found an ironic inverse relationship among U.S. retailers between average shopping frequency, and frequency of email contact. Stores with a higher frequency of shopping are sending far fewer emails than stores shopped less than once a month. In planning your digital campaigns, consider the average purchase cycle for your brand. Your customers give you implicit permission to connect with them at a frequency that corresponds to when they are in the market for your product.
2. Listen to your customers’ preferences. Retailers are notorious for an organizational bias that ties all marketing to their own promotional cycle, without much regard to how consumers actually shop. In a recent survey, 76% of retailers said that their email frequency was tied to their own promotional cycle. Instead, consider allowing your customers to update their contact preferences at a granular level, choosing the types of emails to which they subscribe, and how often they’ll receive them. The preference center is a great way to build a trusting relationship with your customers by putting control back in their hands. When asked about what could stop consumers from unsubscribing from marketing emails, over 40% said that having an option to receive emails less frequently would keep them subscribed. That’s a recovery rate of nearly half of people who would otherwise opt out!
3. Embrace marketing automation. Customers in the digital age expect you to use the data you collect to personalize your marketing communications. They expect relevant emails about their visits, content based on their purchase behaviors, and a demonstrated level of attention to interests and information they provided in their profiles. By fully embracing marketing automation, and moving more of your offers and promotions into trigger-based campaigns rather than regularly-scheduled newsletters, you can increase contact frequency with customers who grant you implicit permission based on their shopping, and avoid overcrowding your customers’ inbox when they haven’t been interacting with your brand.
A customer-centric approach is absolutely essential in executing your communications plan. Leverage your data and the customers’ chosen preferences to create an experience with your brand that is personal, informative and helps your customers solve their problems with your product or service. Your email marketing strategy should put your customers’ needs, problems and behavior at the center of all your efforts. Through the use of adaptive frequency techniques, you can personalize your messaging and campaign frequency to create an informative, thoughtful customer experience that will build customer loyalty.
Reid Sorenson is Senior Director of Member Experience at Aimia Inc.