How Many Retail Communications Are Too Many?

Retail messaging can often feel like a game of Goldilocks. Too many messages can frustrate and push consumers away, while fewer communications can put the brand at risk of no longer being relevant.

According to April 2019 data from Yes Marketing, an average of six in 10 US digital shoppers said the frequency of retail communications they receive from retailers they have previously purchased from is “just right.”

While it sounds reassuring, this figure also means that roughly four in 10 are either being bombarded with retail communications or not getting messages as often as they'd like.

Some 10% of respondents said they didn’t receive text messages from retailers frequently enough, while slightly fewer (9%) felt the same about push notifications.

When it came to email, however, 36% of respondents said they were getting too many emails from retailers—more so than the communications they received on social media (29%), through display ads (32%) or via push notifications (34%).

That’s not very surprising, especially when considering that email is one of the most popular communication channels. A January 2019 survey from omnichannel retail management company iVend Retail found that 62.9% of internet users worldwide preferred to get email communications from retailers—more than any other channel, including social media, a store’s website or text message.

“Forward-looking digital marketers are challenging themselves to create a 360-degree view of their customers to center those experiences and reach them in the channels that make sense, at the right time, with the right message,” said Nicole Perrin, principal analyst at eMarketer and author of our recent report, “Customer Experience 2019 (Part 4)—Messaging Frequency: The Building Block of a Better Customer Experience (A 4-Part Series)." “There are still many difficulties in making that happen. One such problem: It’s impossible to know how often audiences have been reached or to manage any particular frequency or cadence of messaging across platforms.”

Many consumers want to control brand communications. Research from Alliance Data conducted last year found that many US internet users want more control over email frequency—and only a small number of marketers are OK with surrendering that control.

Giving up control may benefit marketers in the long run, especially as they continue to weave through the various challenges of managing messaging frequency.