Threadless’ Frequency Alert: Hot or Not?

Did your New Year’s resolution involve overhauling your email marketing campaign?

Maybe you resolved to get on the ball and send more often. Or maybe you suspect you’ve been overwhelming your readers, so you plan to send less.

Either way, you’ve got some decisions to make. Do you tell your readers to expect the change in frequency? If you do, where, when and how do you tell them?

Let’s take a look at how Threadless handled a recent frequency change. Would you do things the same way?

The Announcement

When Threadless increased their frequency from 2 emails per week to 3, they let subscribers know.

Better Off Alone?

There’s a lot going on in this message, with the swirling vortex and all. Many readers may have skipped right over that lovely yellow box. Should Threadless have announced the change in a separate email?

Pro: A statement that arrived solo would be sure to be seen. Plus, it would become the natural topic for the subject line, so subscribers could observe the addition even without opening the message.

Con: On the other hand, giving the announcement such serious real estate might annoy some readers. They signed up for these emails to see fun t-shirts, and they get a schedule announcement? Disapproval or even unsubscribes could result if the message doesn’t meet their expectations.

Knowledge Is Power…Too Much Power?

The box gave the facts about the extra emails, then gave readers the option to decline them. Should Threadless have forgone that second step?

Pro: With the veto power granted here, subscribers can control which messages they receive. (You can do this for your own subscribers, if you like.) This gives them a sense of ownership over their subscription, which may mean they’ll appreciate these emails more.

Con: But what if they choose to opt out of the extra emails? Will Threadless miss out on potential sales? And what if readers evaluate their preferences and decide, “Actually, I’ll just unsubscribe?”

Out? In? Which Way to Opt?

Notice that readers were invited to opt out of the extra emails, not into them. For general list subscription, that’s widely considered a bad practice. How about for frequency changes?

Pro: Subscribers who don’t open the message, see the box or change their preferences will start getting the extra emails, giving Threadless more opportunities to persuade them to buy.

Con: For those subscribers, the extra messages will appear seemingly without request or warning. If they notice, and if they mind, they may feel annoyed and unsubscribe.

How Do You Change Frequency?

Have you ever changed how often you send your marketing emails? Did you let subscribers know beforehand?

Did you offer them the option to choose which frequency they’d prefer, perhaps by switching lists?

How else could you handle the situation?