Retail Focus: Increasing Send Frequency During the Holiday Season

By now, you’re probably already knee-deep into your holiday marketing plans, grinding away to make sure your content stands out among the seasonal blitz (check back next week for a few tips on how to make sure your communications cut through crowded inboxes). For most marketers, that means at least a modest increase in sending frequency. This is mostly an anticipated component of the consumer/marketer relationship, so the majority of your subscriber list will likely understand the bump (rather than click that spam button).

That said, upping your send count still requires some finesse. There’s a fine line between increasing awareness of valuable promotions and beating your subs over the head with your brand. Push too far, and you might find yourself notching a dangerous spike in unsubscribes or spam complaints.

So how do you identify that line – especially this close to the holiday when there’s so little time left to test.

Carefully. That’s the most effective piece of advice we can give you. Be careful. But, because this is an advice blog, we’ll go ahead add some details. Seems fair.

First of all, content is king. We’ve covered this relentlessly here, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, but I’ll say this: the days of simple repeat brand imprints for the sake of brand imprinting are over. Brand communications need to carry some value. There’s simply too much going on out there to rely on the efficacy of top-of-mind awareness rooted in visual recognition alone. If your brand imprints don’t come alongside truly valuable content, they’ll likely do more harm than good. Stick with promotions that offer your subscribers real savings or value, or content that will actually help them.

Next, you’ll need to prime your account for the increased sending load. That means ramping up communications rather than leaping up, if that makes sense. Rocketing up from a weekly send to a daily send can get you in a good bit of trouble. Some subscribers may get a little fatigued with your daily blasts and start clicking that unsubscribe button.

Worse, however, is the fact that a major sending spike might trigger bounce protocols from recipient email clients. That can affect your deliverability rate, derailing your ability to even get through to the inbox. Damage to your sending reputation like that can hurt your deliverability for months.

But, we’re less than two weeks away from the ostensible end of the holiday season. How could you possibly have time to “ramp up?”

Great question, me. Well, say you’re a monthly sender. Knocking out another two marketing emails between now and December 22 (deadline for two-day shipping if you’re doing online retail) should be totally safe. That’s two additional inbox appearances backed up by valuable content prior to the close of the shopping season. There’s not much ramping there, but it’s a modest enough increase that it shouldn’t set off any alarms.

If you’re a weekly sender, doubling up over the next week and a half is very doable. More practically, however, you could space your sends out a little differently to maximize impact.

Try, for example, the following:

    A mid-morning blast on Monday
    Another on Thursday
    An early morning send on Saturday (like 7AM EST)
    Another early morning on Tuesday (for one-day shipping and last minute walk-ins for brick and mortars).

Now, that may seem like a LOT of additional material, but look at it this way: you’ve already built a list that’s comfortable hearing from you weekly. And, we’ve already covered the fact that most subscribers will be comfortable hearing from you a little more frequently during this time of year, so getting an additional two emails in the week leading up to Christmas shouldn’t upset the apple cart too much.

Another thing to consider is that people are checking email all throughout the day, seven days a week now with mobile access. That helps reduce recipient pattern recognition, and has actually been shown to limit fatigue. With that in mind, it’s okay to shake up your sending patterns and try and target your subscribers on a modified schedule.

What that kind of sending bump will do is keep you in your subscribers’ minds as a destination for last-second gifts (again, provided you’re pushing strong content) – something that could pay major dividends both now and after the season. There’s a chance you might lose a couple of subscribers, but that’s okay. You’ve communicated effectively with your list, and you’ve let them know that you’re not going to flood their inboxes during crunch time. That’s a very valuable message you’re sending, and one your subscribers won’t forget.