Going overboard with emails

14Jul11

Let’s say you’re creating an account with an online retailer. As part of the sign-up process, they give you the option to receive periodic emails with special offers and the like. If you opt-in to these messages, how many emails would you expect to get each week?

Absent any other data points, I would guess that a typical email subscription yields one or two emails a week. That’s enough for the sender to remain front of mind, but not so many that it gets annoying. Yet a well-known retailer I came across sent a message every single day, for a total of seven emails a week. This went from irritating to infuriating rather quickly, and coupled with a broken unsubscribe system, really hurt my perception of their brand.

Avoiding this situation is easy. First, set your email frequency to match what people are expecting. Once a week is fine, while once a day clearly isn’t. Second, if there’s some compelling business reason why you need to email people more often, then tell them about the email frequency before they sign up, and make it easy to switch to weekly after that. While you might not get as many raw opportunities to deliver your message this way, there’s a much greater chance that people will actually be paying attention — instead of just sending your emails right to the trash.



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