Ahem, RFM: Don't Forget The Direct Mail Verities When Doing Your Email Marketing

Remember RFM? That acronym, which stands for Recency-Frequency-Monetary, was the bedrock of direct-mail targeting. 

Things are more complicated now. But those variables could still serve as a foundation for customer engagement online, along with cadencing, according to CRM Strategies for the Holidays, a paper by AlchemyWorx. 

Let’s say you’re lacking a proper CDP and can’t delve too much into browsing history, demographics, location or other considerations. It would be a good idea to focus on:

  • Recency — How recently a customer made a purchase
  • Frequency — How often a customer makes a purchase 
  • Monetary — How much money a customer spends 
  • Cadence — How often a customer is mailed

Of course, there are other factors, and as your tech stack matures, you can test them. 

Here are some other direct-marketing truisms that can be applied to email:

  • Split test against last year’s offer 
  • Incentivize nearly acquired names
  • Switch up offer
  • Lead with product scarcity



And don’t forget the Call-to-Action. The CTA should be visible, not buried at the bottom of the email, and it helps to add colors and vary the copy. 

As other experts have done, the authors here suggest that you test everything. Testing should be thought of as a funnel — at the top of the funnel, the widest point, you want to make people aware of you. Here, you test reach and frequency.  

Next is the open stage, in which subject lines, preheader and the friendly "from" line and timing are tested. 

The funnel continues to narrow as you reach the click stage. Here, you would test calls-to-action, offers and offer types. 

Finally, we reach the “read” stage. The imperative here? Design.  

Assuming you have the capability, don’t forget your trigger emails and personalization on your website. The study offers these tips (and we quote):  

  • Take inventory of trigger content and timing to ensure there are no collision points with holiday offers or inventory
  • Consider swapping in holiday-related imagery and subject lines 
  • Follow up with potential buyers who are engaging with your site
  • Make sure popups are optimized for conversion and acquiring names 

Consider adding new touchpoints -- based on new behaviors, or additional messaging needed. Use digital channels to communicate in-store inventory needs  

Now you’re all set.

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