Q&A: How many webinar invitations is too many?

David asks a fair question in response to this post about how many webinar reminders is too many.  Because invitations and reminders a different beasts in a couple important aspects, I’m copying his question to a new post and tackling it separately.

He asked:

“I have been asked by my Marketing colleagues to send a seminar invite every week for 6 weeks. That would mean 6 weeks leading up to the event the customers would get an email reminding them of the event and hoping to gain more registrants. I manage and am gatekeeper of our database. I am the final point of call on all of our email marketing and I tend to have the best visibility of the number of emails sent to our customers. The majority of our audience receive an email every week, without any seminar or event invites. It is my opinion that 6, one a week for 6 weeks, is too many. I would be interested in your thoughts and opinion?”

David, the big difference between your question about invitations and the previous post about reminders is the nature of the opt-in.  Clearly for webinar reminders, folks have opted-in to hearing about that event, and most of the time the expectation is that the opt-in has a lifespan of that one event.  Given the information you’ve shared, I’d likely lean toward your perspective of caution.

Here are some questions I’d consider:

What was the pretense under which people ended up on your email list?
If it’s to hear about offers and events, that’d be very different than if they’re expecting a newsletter with how-to tips.

What is the nature of the email they’re used to getting from you?
For instance, is there a way to add an event invitation into a newsletter (even prominently) rather than making the invite an explicit pitch for your webinar?  Are the list members opted in with their primary email addresses and used to seeing your emails routinely?  Are they using their “santaclaus@genericemailprovider.com” address that they only check every few weeks (in which case a long list of invites in their inbox will look excessive)?

Is your webinar invite part of or in addition to the weekly email they already get?
The answer to this question is an important one as it is the difference between adding a promotional message to what they’re already getting versus doubling the quantity of emails they receive each week.  Quantity is a big part of tolerance and fatigue.

Is the proposed webinar invitation different every week, or it the same email promoting the same thing over and over?
…which leads to the next question…

Does your organization maintain multiple lists for multiple purposes?
While I’m not a huge fan of automatically opting people into new lists, I do think it can be done with integrity.  For example, some organizations have one list for the newsletter, another for special product offers, another for event announcements, etc.  You could create a new list just for webinar invites and duplicate your email list there.  I’d make it clear that this its own unique list, but the benefit to you is that if they unsubscribe from the webinar invites list, you’ve not lost them on the newsletter list (though I would, however, use  forms that gives them the option of choosing which lists they opt into and out of, including ‘all’).

Have you considered testing?
It might be worth testing the marketers’ request, tracking results against a control group.  Comparing an increase in webinar registrations (the positive) against unsubscribes (the negative) might give some great insight against which to evaluate what action to take with the rest of your database.

Overall, I tend to think the golden rule rules…are you truly providing them value or just pitching more of yourself?  All our prospects and customers realize we all need to reach out, but I tend to think they can tell if our intentions are good.  I’m on several lists that literally send email several times weekly, but there’s value to be gained in between the promotional notes.  We each have tolerance for this stuff like dealing with commercials on television.

All my best, and thanks for sharing.  If you have a chance, please share an update with our readers!

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