Are your subscriber lists killing each other?

Email send frequency may seem like a no-brainer if you’ve only got one regular newsletter. But what is it to your subscribers when you’re sending a weekly newsletter, flash sales and regular product announcements in between?

I got thinking about this while reading VentureBeat’s post on why Amazon have been unsubscribing inactive subscribers from AmazonLocal, their daily deals list. The reason:

“the Seattle-based retailer has relationships going back more than a decade with some consumers. Continuing to send unwanted emails would hurt that relationship.”

Or as I read it: Amazon has determined that email fatigue may not just be affecting one list, but all their lists, if not their brand overall.

The article goes on reinforce a tricky fact - one of the top reasons for unsubscribing is that emails are being received too frequently from a particular sender. Amazon may have seen a lack of interest in their daily AmazonLocal emails as being an email fatigue warning sign and perhaps even a threat to their potentially more profitable (and relevant) email recommendations, launch announcements and updates.

Of course, this move goes both ways. When senders proactively remove inactive subscribers from their lists, it can create a lot of confusion for folks who may be happily receiving the emails, but rarely feel the need to respond. It may be because the email content doesn’t contain a strong call to action, doesn’t invite the recipient to click through, or perhaps it’s just a matter of them waiting for the ‘right offer’ to come along. For these reasons, it’s worth exploring alternate ways to combat email fatigue, aside from downsizing your lists.

What to prescribe before you unsubscribe

The first thing that comes to mind when faced with a scenario like this is running a re-engagement campaign. The message can be something really simple, like: “We see you haven’t been getting into our daily deals, so use this link if you would like to stop receiving them”. It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback from your subscribers and perhaps even offer an incentive to for them to get active again. Fatigue is an issue that all senders have to approach strategically at some point in time, so it’s also worth considering now what you can do about it. For example:

  • Is it worth consolidating your various newsletters and announcements, say by sending consistently once a fortnight, instead of whenever something exciting happens?
  • Are you giving your subscribers what they want, with relevant content and enticing offers?
  • How strong is your call to action? How can you improve it?
  • Are there alternative channels you can use to effectively communicate your message (eg. social media)?

… and the list continues. There are very good reasons to keep your lists and campaigns responsive, especially as email clients like Gmail are using prior engagement to determine how important an email is.

Overall, the most important action item is to do like Amazon and take stock of how your subscriber lists are affecting your relationship with your customers… And each other. What happens after doesn’t have to be as drastic as wiping out all your inactive subscribers - small steps like changing your frequency can go a long way when outpacing email fatigue.

Posted by Ros Hodgekiss

4 Comments

  • Mark J. Reeves
    7th December

    Amazon sent Local emails to Amazon customers who had not opted in to receive them. For me it wasn’t frequency fatigue—I get frequent emails from Amazon for lots of things. It was something I had not signed up for and had no interest in receiving.

    http://twitter.com/circa1977/status/126987473967525889

  • Ann
    8th December

    Re-engagement emails would be much easier with an option to create a segment by selecting subscribers that haven’t opened/clicked any campaigns since a specific date, rather than having to individually add a condition for each campaign sent to that list.  That’s been on my wishlist for a while just for this reason!

  • Nik
    23rd December

    Great idea Ann!

  • Claudia
    23rd December

    +1 for your idea Ann!

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