The mystery of commercial pressure

It's an issue that comes up all the time. However, I don't feel that there is a clear view on this yet. CRM managers are often in the dark on this issue. And I understand them!

For a few years now, emailing has been gaining in maturity and that's good! CRM managers know that they need to move towards more targeting and more editorial/advice/tip oriented content. In addition to this, there are email triggers and automated scenarios linked to the life cycle of contacts.

As campaigns multiply, managing the marketing/sales pressure becomes more and more essential, but also more and more complex.

How to avoid unsubscribing contacts who are tired of commercial messages? At what point does solicitation of an Internet user become counterproductive for the advertiser? How to define the right threshold?
Because if bombarding the contact with commercial messages can be irritating, a lack of communication with its base is a loss of opportunity to generate business.

There are 4 ways to handle commercial pressure.

In segmentation: by capturing the number of messages per individual over a given period.

This is the most traditional approach. Most of the marketing campaign management tools proposes to define a maximum number of messages to be sent for each individual, over a given period.
For example: no more than 2 solicitations per week.
The platform will stop sending once the maximum is reached.

In addition, by giving weight to the email 

Not all email solicitations are created equal. Some emails are more irritating than others.
For example, receiving a newsletter full of tips and advice will irritate the contact less than an email with a big promotion on a product that does not correspond to his needs at the moment.
Another example: receiving a birthday email is less irritating (although... ) than a commercial email.

In this logic, some tools allow you to assign a weight to each email you create. Thus, an editorial newsletter will be 'normally' counted while a commercial email will be 'doubly' counted...

Excluding email triggers and scenarios

This is the same process as the previous one except that here the tool will say: no more than 2 email solicitations per week outside of transactional emails or outside of certain scenarios that you can define.

Via a priority engine

Some tools (the most advanced ones functionally speaking) offer a priority engine. It often happens that your contacts are part of several targets, you can then define which emails your contacts should receive first. You can sort your messages in order of importance.
For example: I prefer that they receive the subscription reminder email rather than the black week launch email.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, all these features do not address the real issue of sales pressure. It may address the global management of sales pressure but not at the individual level.

The real questions an advertiser asks

  • How many messages does each individual in my database actually receive? There is often a significant difference between what the different contacts in the database receive. Depending on the targeting rules you use on your campaigns, some contacts will receive 2 emails per month, and others 8!
  • For each individual, what is the number of days in a row without any communication from me between 2 solicitations?
  • For each individual, what is the spacing of reactions to solicitations?
  • When do unsubscribes occur? If they occur as soon as the first commercial messages are sent, you must modulate the rhythm of sending very quickly. For example, if the commercial rhythm of an advertiser is 2 emails per week. For a new contact who would not have reacted to the first solicitation, an automatic switch of its threshold to 1 email per week could be a rule that would give good results.

But, quite frankly, I don't see how I can easily get the answers to these questions about commercial pressure. In any case, not via the standard reports of classic campaign management tools. You would have to create custom reports with companies specialized in data mining. If someone has already seen this, I'm looking for feedback!

In fact, it would be necessary to model all this mathematically

We should model the relationship between:

  • frequency of sending,
  • opening,
  • click,
  • unsubscribe.

But also:

  • the type of solicitation (commercial email, newsletter, SMS, phone call, mail...),
  • the age of the interaction,
  • the collection source (inbound marketing, newsletter, contests, partner base)
  • the consumer's feeling.

Commercial pressure is actually based on a feeling that differs from one individual to another.
For example, one contact may be delighted to receive an email wishing them a happy birthday, while another may find this approach disturbing.

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By playing with all these weights, it might be possible to define the fairest possible commercial pressure at the individual level. But, again, today, I can't think of a single company that is implementing this kind of modeling. It must be possible by challenging mathematicians, but I'm not aware of any advertisers who have taken the plunge. Once again, if you have any feedback to share, I'd be delighted to hear from you!

In the meantime, what do we do about commercial pressure?

1. We set up a preference center!

We've been talking about it for several years now. But few brands have actually implemented it. This topic is back in force since the 1er In the past few years, brands have adopted a different tone of communication with more relational and less commercial emails. The relational messages got good open and click rates than the purely commercial emails. Companies have therefore tended to keep 2 typologies of messages: editorial + commercial.

I think the preference center is the best and fastest way to avoid unsubscribes. Instead of referring to a classic unsubscribe form that unsubscribes the contact to all your emails. You link to the preference center where you detail all the types of emails you send.
Often we have:

  • Promotional emails
  • Editorial newsletters (tips, tricks, blog posts...)
  • Emails to collect opinions (satisfaction surveys, polls...)

The contact can choose to unsubscribe only from promotional emails. At least you can keep in touch with them via other types of messages.

communication parameters and commercial pressure
Netflix's simple and efficient preference center.

You can take advantage of the preference center to collect the interests of your contacts, as Veepee does below. Veepee also gives you the choice on the frequency of sending.

Preference center to manage commercial pressure
Veepee Preference Center

By giving the customer a sense of control, you'll likely avoid a lot of churn!

2. We play the transparency !

In the preheader/header, a clear reminder to the recipient of the reason for receiving the message can be added.

Prismashop's preheder for Ça m'intéresse magazine subscribers
Example with the FNAC to promote a show by the artist Fabrice Luchini.

For your targets close to inactivity, we can add this kind of banner during the end of year campaigns for example (the Internet users are very solicited by the brands between the black week, Christmas and the winter sales).

3. We are interesting!

The adequacy between the subject of the message and the content is determining in the perception of pressure.

  • Either the recipient, interested by the subject, opens the email and finds the content relevant: positive perception.
  • Either the recipient, interested by the subject, opens the email and is disappointed by the content: negative perception.

For example, a non-commercial object with commercial content will get a higher number of unsubscribes than if the object had been commercial. So beware of ambiguous objects: always be honest, but don't let that stop you from being funny and offbeat.

4. We play with the level of commitment of the contacts

The idea is to adapt the sending rhythm according to the opening activity of your contacts. I refer you to the article written a few weeks ago on this subject Christmas campaigns: how to address your inactive contacts?

I've tried to clarify as much as possible what I think about commercial pressure. I hope I've cleared up some of the fog for some of you and provided some food for thought. If you want to think about it together, do not hesitate to contact us !

PS: a live on the subject of commercial pressure in email marketing has been done since then, run to it quickly!

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