Frequency Optimization Depends on Engagement

Posted by Jen Ribble on

As an email marketer, you spend a lot of time figuring out how your subscribers interact with your brand. However, this tells only part of the story. Unless you can see how your subscribers interact as a whole—with other brands as well as your own—you can’t make an accurate assessment of a subscriber’s engagement level.

By segregating your subscribers based on how they interact with email as a whole, you will be better equipped to judge their overall email frequency tolerance.

Three major types of accounts
For this study, we grouped subscribers into three categories based on Return Path’s panel:

  1. Primary: These accounts are actively engaged, meaning subscribers regularly show inbox activity like reading, deleting, and moving messages.
  2. Secondary: These accounts receive a high number of promotional and transactional messages, but few personal messages; subscribers are less engaged than Primary accounts.
  3. Dead: This group shows very little engagement with their inbox.

Why are these categories important?
Most marketers use engagement level as a basis for making decisions around send frequency. Best practices typically recommend sending more to engaged subscribers, as they’re less likely to complain, and sending less to disengaged subscribers because they tend to complain more, causing deliverability issues. In fact, our research found the exact opposite to be true.

Primary
Primary accounts are the most active as well as the most sensitive. These accounts belong to the “zero inbox” and power users. Email sent to these accounts are read and interacted with, accounting for 83% of all reads, but it also draws a surprising number of complaints. Primary inboxes account for roughly 24% of users among our panel, but generated 50% of all complaints.

Secondary
Secondary accounts are moderately active, reading only a small percentage of email they receive. They may be “side” email accounts used for subscribing to promotions and checked only occasionally. These accounts make up 67% of all users in our panel, accounting for just 16% of total reads and approximately half of complaints.

Dead
Dead accounts were likely created and abandoned—not quite unknown users or spam traps yet, but well on their way. These accounts are rarely checked, let alone actively engaged. Dead accounts make up 9% of users in our panel and generate less than 1% of reads and complaints.

2015_07_06_15_04_17_returnpath_com_wp_content_uploads_2015_06_rp_frequency_report_final_pdf

This breakdown provides three important takeaways related to email send frequency:

  1. Your most active and engaged subscribers are the most valuable, but they’re also the most sensitive—and the most likely to complain. Making changes to this group should be done cautiously, with the correct data and lots of testing.
  2. Secondary accounts, while technically an active inbox, are likely to be classified as inactive by some marketers. It’s difficult to make accurate decisions about send frequency and removal of inactives based on a typical dataset.
  3.  Complaints don’t come from where you’d expect. “Inactives” aren’t the biggest driver of complaints, and varying send frequency to this group—either more or less—isn’t likely to make a difference in complaints or opt-outs.

Want to learn more about sending frequency’s effect on your email program? Download our latest report, Frequency Matters: The keys to optimizing email send frequency.

 

 


Popular this Month

 Video in Email: Is It Right For Your Business? (Part 1)

Video in Email: Is It Right For Your Business? (Part 1)

Video in email is nothing new. Marketers have been using some form of video...

Read More

 [New Research] Are These Hidden Metrics Harming Your Deliverability?

[New Research] Are These Hidden Metrics Harming Your Deliverability?

Reaching the inbox is not as simple as hitting send. Once a message is...

Read More

 What Job Is Your Subscriber Hiring Your Email To Do?

What Job Is Your Subscriber Hiring Your Email To Do?

Over the last 16 years, I’ve worked as a product manager, run product...

Read More

Author Image

About Jen Ribble

With more than 15 years of marketing and PR experience, Jen Ribble is passionate about the art of storytelling and the science of creating high quality, data-driven content. In her current role as Director of Public Relations for Return Path, Jen is responsible for elevating the company’s reputation in the marketplace, crafting engaging thought leadership content, enhancing customer relationships, and driving inbound leads. In her spare time, Jen is an aspiring chef and food lover, a movie fan, and a travel junkie.

Author Archive

Stay up to date

Enter your name and email address below to subscribe to our mailing list.

Your browser is out of date.
For a better Return Path experience, click a link below to get the latest version.