May 14, 2010

Loyalty Before Frequency

A lot of companies (apparently) look at their email marketing stats and say, "Hmm, we should jack up our send frequency and milk more out of this subscriber list!" I mean, how many times have you signed up for a retailer’s email list, and it all started out okay with monthly(ish) emails and specials, then over time, it turns into daily blasts to your inbox? That initial feeling of, "Hey, now I get these neat offers from my favorite store" always seems to turn into, "When the hell did I sign up for this junk?!?"

Okay, in some cases, the frequency just increases as the company’s experience with email marketing increases (in other words, "now we have more to say"). But you can’t just go from casual email newsletters to daily hyper-marketing. Not without the right approach.

Here’s an example of the right way to increase your frequency…

I subscribed to the Bonobos newsletter back in November of 2009. They sent emails every week or two.

Here’s an example of what they looked like:

Weekly is honestly more frequent than I usually prefer, but they’re always well-written and creative in some way, so I actually look forward to them. Their photographer always seems to come up with something different (btw, how smart is it that they blog about the making-of those photo shoots?).

Recently, they decided that they wanted to send more frequent emails.

But they didn’t just start blasting them to their list every day, like most retailers seem to do.

Bonobos created a whole new program (an "exclusive email list" as they call it), called "Bonobos Pro" that I could opt-in to.

Here’s the invitation they sent:

Hey, I like the idea of them sending me suggestions. I’m too lazy to go shopping, either offline or online. So I signed up.

Now, my emails from Bonobos look like this:

What’s nice is how they kept the same clean design (that I love so much), but made it feel slightly more exclusive with this little top-right corner-thingy:

That corner-thingy is genius. It’s a subtle "permission reminder" that explains why I’m getting these emails so frequently now. You know, in case I forget down the road, and wonder "what’s up with all these daily emails?!?" Explanation right there: "Dude, you signed up for them." It’s subliminal, and it works.

Another reason that little corner thingy is cool? Just when I get used to it saying "Bonobos Pro" all the time, they change it up, and make me look:

Bonobos could’ve just upped their frequency, and stayed "can-spam compliant." But they were smart about it. They didn’t want to alienate their customers. Coming up with this "Pro" thing is a ton more work than just hitting the send button more often, but in the long run, it’s worth it. Plus, it’s a great way to find your most loyal customers, who will open more, click more, forward more, and complain less. And hopefully, buy more banana shorts.