Is there anything more golden than a customer who gives you permission to contact them? A customer who wants to hear about your new products or services? In fact, they like what you do so much that they’ll hand you the keys to their inbox, their mobile number and maybe even their mailing address.
There is an unspoken etiquette — a pact, if you will — when this happens:
Customer: I love you! Let me know about your new stuff and your specials!
Business: We love you too! And we take your faith in us seriously, so we promise to not abuse you like a rental car on spring break.
But sometimes, we may get carried away in our passion to market to our customers. Sometimes, especially near the holidays, we might overdo it a bit, and I don’t mean with the fruitcake or bourbon. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Arhaus Is In The House (Again and Again)
My wife and I are in the process of moving (for the third time this year, don’t even ask) and we needed a new dining room table. We bravely dived into the sea of shoppers on Black Friday to see if we could find a deal. We had a plan, we had a map and we had strong coffee. It’s this sort of misplaced optimism that keeps civilization moving ahead, despite all proof that it simply shouldn’t.
Three stores and four hours later we settled on a scratch-and-dent floor model from Arhaus. It’s big enough to plot out an invasion of East Europe, but costs only 30 cents on the dollar. SOLD! The young lady who assisted us was disarmingly helpful. The bottom half of her face smiled broadly but I believe, in retrospect, the top half held a dark menace. And we were tired! “Can I get your email address?” “Sure,” I said, ignoring my inner voice entirely as I repeated it to her.
See, I really like Arhaus. It’s the kind of furniture my parents bought. Big, comfortable and wildly expensive. It’s the kind of furniture I aspire to have when I grow up, should that ever happen. I had just gotten a deal so shockingly inexpensive that I was willing to take a gamble. Maybe I could repeat that maneuver in the future if I only knew when they had a sale? HUBRIS!
Here’s what proceeded to happen to my inbox over the next 5 days:
FIRE FOR EFFECT!
If you’re not keeping track, that’s 10 emails over 4 days. It’s fun to imagine an Arhaus marketing manager stepping outside their office door and screaming at the staff, “It’s been four hours! Send another email. Tell them we’re still here for God’s sake!”
It’s probably human nature to think that if a little is good a lot must be better, right?
Arhaus is blatantly ignoring an age old marketing rule, to not annoy the $^#* out of your clients. Technically speaking, their “frequency” is out of control. The question that someone is (hopefully) weighing over there is how much is too much? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if I didn’t respond to your morning email, the answer is not to send me another email that same afternoon and repeat every day, ad infinitum.
Tommy Bahama Is Flattering to a Fault
Let’s look at email marketing from another brand I have a crush on. I’m a big (literally) fan of Tommy Bahama. They’re known for their silk tropical-print shirts, but they make a lot of sharp clothes that fit big dudes very nicely. They’ve got my number and I’ve been a customer for well over a decade.
This is my inbox traffic from Tommy Bahama over the month of November:
That’s 33 emails in 28 days. Make no mistake about it, this is a prime example of the front line in marketing’s war on your sanity. And they’re winning.
In addition to a massive frequency problem, they also have a glaring targeting problem. In fact, it seems that they are way off the mark. There are at least five emails in here for women’s clothing, two emails targeting swimwear and a smattering of “sports themed” clothing, which is a newer initiative that strikes me as totally off-brand.
In literally hundreds of purchases spanning 10+ years, guess how many pieces of women’s clothing I’ve purchased from Tommy Bahama? And guess how many I’m going to purchase over the next ten years? Zero. Ditto for swimwear and “team” branded items. I’m never buying any of it. *
Serve Up Quality Spam
I want the best for Arhaus and Tommy Bahama as well. They deserve better. And we, as their customers, deserve better. I gripe but it’s all tongue in cheek.
In addition to targeting and frequency you’ll also want to measure your open rate, click-through rate and conversion. We do this so that we can understand the effects of optimization and A/B testing. You also need to keep it simple and take into account mobile traffic. And if you’re abusing your frequency and targeting, you’re undoubtedly measuring conversion against a smaller and smaller subset of customers — the most diehard of the diehard. Most of your metrics may still look great but you’ve lost a giant part of your audience along the way. Start simple. Just don’t abuse your customers.
This stuff is hard. I know it because we’re here doing this type of stuff every day at OOHology. It’s time consuming and it takes all kinds of expertise to pull it off in style. If you’d like to talk about your own marketing efforts, or need branding or web development assistance, drop us a line. We’re standing by. And I promise we won’t spam you like a car salesman trying to make his quota.
* In all fairness, I did finally break down and write Tommy Bahama. Their director of marketing said that they’re implementing a new omni-channel marketing solution that will resolve a lot of this. I’m hoping that’s the case, because I’m still hanging in there, at least for the time being.