Explaining Modern Marketing to My Mom: Part 4

This latest post is inspired by an email I received from my mom Julia just before the holidays. It went like this: 

Dear Martha, when I give my email out to places like Shoppers, I expect to receive an occasional email, but I am finding that they are coming daily. I will have to unsubscribe, but it’s too bad for the company: If they didn’t overdo it, I would have been happy to keep hearing from them.  

For readers not located in Canada, “Shoppers” is short for Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest retail pharmacy chain. My mom is asking about something that every marketer, whether B2C or B2B, wrestles with: How many marketing emails are too many? And it’s a thorny topic because marketers and their prospective customers often see things quite differently when it comes to how much communication is too much!  

In this post, I’ll try to explain the email marketing concepts of: 

•    Touch Governance
•    Email Subscription Management
•    The Importance of Sending Relevant Content

I’ll also provide some common sense advice for marketers on how to avoid losing email subscribers. 

Here goes….
Hey Mom, that wasn’t really a question, but it is a great topic! Email marketing is very popular in both B2C (the emails you get from Shoppers) and B2B (the emails that LookBookHQ’s prospective customers both send and receive). If you have an email address, you have undoubtedly been on the receiving end of a marketing email or two!  

The way B2C and B2B organizations approach email marketing is very different, but one thing is the same: Email recipients want relevant and helpful information sent to them at a reasonable frequency. Many companies fail to do this: They send emails way too frequently, causing their subscribers to hit the “unsubscribe” button. Marketers aren’t emailing you as a hobby; they are doing it to make money. Email subscribers are valuable, and losing subscribers is a bad thing for marketers.  

So what can marketers do to hold on to subscribers like you, mom? Here are three things that can help make email marketing a win-win for marketers and their prospects.

1. Do not email subscribers too frequently
In the modern marketing world, we call this having a touch governance strategy. It’s a pretty fancy term, right? A touch governance strategy starts with a policy around how frequently an organization will allow emails to be sent to their subscribers. For example, the company may decide that a subscriber in your email database can only be emailed once a week. Once the policy is in place, marketers need to take measures to prevent subscribers from receiving more than one email a week. 

Implementing these measures can be very simple or very complex depending on how emails are sent out. The email cadence may be achieved manually or may be added as a rule in the software the company uses to automate its email communications. (Mom, you’ve probably heard me talk about software tools like Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot. These are marketing automation platforms that marketers use to automate their email and marketing campaigns.) 

Some pretty sophisticated logic can be applied. For example, say Sally in Marketing wants to sends out an email to 10,000 people today and Bob in Client Services is planning to send out an email to 25,000 people tomorrow. Anyone on Sally’s email list would be supressed from Bob’s email list to avoid sending the same customer two emails in a row. 

Whether the marketer is B2C or B2B, they should have a touch governance strategy in place protect their subscribers’ inboxes from being flooded by emails. This is in everyone’s best interests: It prevents subscribers from getting fed up with too much communication and this in turn reduces the risk that people will unsubscribe.

2. Allow subscribers manage their own preferences
Marketers should give their subscribers the ability to choose the types of emails they want to receive and give them an idea of how frequently they can expect to be contacted. Are emails sent daily? Weekly? Monthly? A preference center allows marketers to establish a healthy, personalized communication cadence with subscribers and it provides subscribers with a centralized portal to control what types of email they receive and how often they receive marketing messages.

Below is an example of an email preference center I saw this week.

Like you, mom, I was getting too many emails, so I went to unsubscribe and was taken to a preference center where I could simply opt out of the daily emails and chose weekly emails instead. Mom, You might want to check to see if you can do the same with Shoppers and adjust your email preferences rather than unsubscribing. That way you’ll still get information on those big sales and special offers you like.

3. Try to send only relevant messages to subscribers
People subscribe to emails because they believe the sender has something of value to share with them. But often marketers don’t acknowledge subscribers’ preferences and send them content that is of no relevance to them. People have a word for irrelevant email content: It’s called spam. Marketers need to understand their audiences and provide content that is relevant to them instead of blasting their entire list with messages that their audience has no interest in. It’s about marketers being respectful of a person’s precious time and attention and treating people like human beings. 

I’ll wrap things up with a word of warning to all the marketers out there. My mom has learned how to unsubscribe from your email communications, and she is teaching her friends. It really isn’t too hard, and that unsubscribe link is always only a click away. To stop losing subscribers by sending irrelevant emails or too many emails, implement a well-thought-out touch governance strategy and give subscribes the power to control and fine-tune their subscriptions with a preference center! 

Martha Prange is a Client Relations Manager at LookBookHQ, the always-on content engagement platform. In her ongoing blog series “Explaining Modern Marketing to my Mom” she does her best to explain the ins and outs of digital marketing by answering her mom’s questions about the world she works in.