The Communication Cadence Conundrum
If you ask a hundred marketers how frequently you should email your database, the chances are you would get a fairly broad range from days to weeks or even months.
The reality, is there is no definitive ‘best practice’ when it comes to determining how frequently to email your database. There are so many variables that can have an impact such as Industry, Data Maturity, Region and Seasonality to name but a few.
So how do you solve communication cadence conundrum?
Know your numbers
According to Sirius Decisions,
‘Organizations must monitor their deliverability rates, as well as their frequency rates, against best-in-class companies and their own benchmark metrics to identify areas for improvement.’1
The specially designed tools in the Eloqua Analytics reporting suite, is a good place to start for this. For example, within the Classic Insight reporting module is the Benchmark Dashboard. This dashboard shows your performance trend compared to other Eloqua clients.
Another useful tool available from the newly released Dashboards option under the Analytics tab is the Email Analysis Dashboard, which gives a great overview on the volume of different types of communications being sent and how they performed in terms of clicks/opens.
As a marketing agency, we are often asked by clients to provide advice on 'best-practice' and benchmarks for their industry in terms of email performance and these report provide data at that level. Having tools like this at your disposal has certainly allowed us to make much more informed decisions when optimising and improving campaign performance for clients.
And whilst email is the primary channel for communication in Eloqua in email, through the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, you can extend your options for reaching your database, through channels such as SMS messaging, offered via third-party vendors. Most vendors will offer you their own analytics, so be sure that whatever standards you are using to optimise your email cadences, apply across all channels.
We’d hate to see you go – perhaps we just need a break?
Keeping unsubscribes to a minimum is a goal all marketers should aspire to and, with the right messaging to the right people at the right time, this is achievable. However, there are always going to be the disaffected few amongst your nurture base that feel enough is enough.
Subscription Management using Eloqua’s Email Group functionality is a great way to allow contacts to take control of the types of communications they receive from you rather than just opting out of everything in the future.
If contacts really do want to call time, with a little customisation, you could insert a simple checkbox form on a page to request a little more info on why they have decided your relationship must come to an end.
By implementing an 'Unsubscribe Reason' step like the screenshot above for a client, we were able to use the findings to identify patterns in the types of sends that prompted a higher rate of unsubscribes where the reason was 'Your emails are too frequent' and make recommendations on the frequency of theose communications in the future. With very little customisation or coding we were able to offer an effective way of monitoring feedback and using it to improve deliverability in the future.
Putting your research into action
OK so you’ve done your research, you’ve made an educated decision on how frequently to communicate with your database, so how do you put all this hard work into action? When it comes to controlling your candences, Shared Filters are your friend!
There are a number of ways in which you can use Shared filters in segments or canvases, but the key thing to consider is how, when and where to use them.
One option is to exclude contacts from entering a campaign if they have received an email within a specified timeframe. For example, if you have an ‘always-on’ campaign with a segment that continually feeds contacts in based on certain activities, you may want to add an exclusion filter that prevents them entering the campaign until they have gone long enough without any communication. As both the segment and shared filter are dynamic, contacts will be fed in at this point.
However, you may have decided that your contacts should be entering a campaign regardless of how recently they have been contacted but still need to avoid over-sending, you can use the shared filter decisions step on the canvas.
One possible setup is what I like to call ‘the loop’ – you would add this timing loop before each email send to check if a contact has received any email within a specific timeframe and, if they have, send them to a 1 day wait step before looping them back into the shared filter decision step. This will continue until such time that they have not been contacted for the desired amount of time and will move onto the next email send.
One thing to note with this approach, it will always render a campaign as lowest priority as this step will require the contacts to have received no other emails from any other campaign before moving on. This approach is good for drip-feed campaigns designed to keep prospects from going cold due to lack of engagement.
The above method can still be applied to higher priority campaigns, however, all that is needed is a slight tweak to the Shared filter setup. For example, if you are using Email Groups to identify email type, use the ‘Sent emails from Email Groups’ filter instead and you can hold people back only if they have received certain types of emails.
And, as mentioned earlier in this post, you don’t want to neglect your other channels. Once again, Shared Filters are your go-to decision step and most third-party applications will support integration with Custom Data Objects. Play around with the fields that capture date-related information and use that to determine the recency of communication via that channel.
Whichever way you decide to manage cadence across multiple active campaigns the key is to be consistent and always bear in mind what campaigns and/or campaign types should take priority.
Key Things to Consider
- Do your research! There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to how frequently you should be keeping in touch with your database, use all the tools and channels available to you to make an informed decision
- Don’t be afraid to ask! If you can keep your prospects and customers happy, all the better, but if you do lose a few along the way, see if you can find out why they want to part ways and look out for patterns that you can address
- Consider all your channels! Email is likely to be your most common channel for communication but make sure you know how and when you are contacting your database through all available channels
- Get your priorities right! Make sure that, if you have multiple campaigns running at any one time that a contact may be entered into, that you have a clear idea and setup to ensure which campaigns will take priority
Useful Academy Courses to consider:
- B2B: Custom Subscription Management
- Eloqua 10: Working with Insight reports
- Best Practices: Email Deliverability