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by: John Landsman, Director of Strategy & Analytics

“Contact frequency” is about how often in a period of time each of your email subscribers receives your messaging. There’s a wide range of opinion on how much is too much, whether it matters, and how to know. In our opinion, sometimes less is more.

In the table above, eDataSource compares certain quarterly email activity and engagement metrics across four similar retailers, based on our visibility into the email activity of 53,000 brands, and how their customers are engaging with those emails.

We estimate weekly contact frequency for these brands by dividing their average weekly email quantities by their estimated panel reach. Note the significant differences between the retailers:

* Bon Ton’s email subscribers receive over 9.3 touches per week; whereas Macy’s email customers receive only 3.5 touches per week. But Macy’s much lower contact frequency occurs despite deploying substantially more individual mailing campaigns than the other retailers being compared.

* This pattern points to the high likelihood of Macy’s email being much more precisely segmented and targeted — and therefore more relevant — than emails from the other retailers.. The likely consequence of Macy’s more precise targeting? Look at their read rates: nearly 18%, much higher than the other retailers’ read rates. And the retailer below with the highest contact frequency metric has one of the lowest read rates, and the lowest inbox placement rates.

When you see a competitor with higher contact frequency than yours, the answer is not necessarily to mail more. There’s no one ‘right’ contract frequency. Frequency optimization is a matter for testing — different mailing cadences to various customer segments, to measure the relative impacts on deliverability, email engagement, audience retention, and revenue generated. It may take a bit of time to figure it out, but getting it ‘right’ clearly has its rewards.


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