September 26, 2013, 12:39 PM

UncommonGoods eyes the holidays with the right formula for e-mail frequency

The web-only retailer of jewelry and home décor products boosted open rates.

Lead Photo

Zachary Notes

Living up to its name, UncommonGoods LLC specializes in selling unique products like tables made from recycled wine barrel materials, and handcrafted raw gemstone earrings. But, as it learned in last year’s holiday shopping season, not all of its customers want frequent e-mail updates of what’s new at

“Christmas is coming, and like a lot of other retailers, we’re trying to decide on our e-mail schedule,” says Zachary Notes, senior analyst for e-mail marketing and search engine optimization. “Last year during the holidays we sent out a lot of e-mails—five a week in December—and we got a lot of unsubscribes.”

This year, he says, UncommonGoods, No. 594 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Second 500 Guide, is getting more in tune with how often customers want to received its marketing e-mails. With a frequency testing program it launched in July with AgilOne, a provider of e-mail analytics, the retailer has already learned how to boost overall open rates while limiting the number of recipients who unsubscribe, Notes says. In effect, he adds, UncommonGoods can now produce more e-mail clicks from recipients while sending less e-mail. “It saves us money by not sending as much e-mail to people who are disengaged from us,” he says.

AgilOne provides analytics data that segment e-mail recipients by their level of engagement, such as their past open- and click-through rates, and provides reports that suggest how each customer segment will respond to e-mail marketing. It integrates its analytics technology with several e-mail services providers, including Silverpop Systems Inc., which UncommonGoods uses. That enables UncommonGoods to test e-mail AgilOne’s suggested frequencies in multiple campaigns sent to each segment.

Since running tests of from one to three e-mails per week, Uncommon Goods has found that two e-mails per week is the optimal rate for its most engaged customers—a group it calls its enthusiast segment—while an average of less than one e-mail per week works best among some less-engaged customers. 

Since launching its first test in July, UncommonGoods has realized an increase in its overall e-mail open rate to 19% from 14%, Notes says. And among its enthusiast segment, the open rate has increased to 81.3% from an already high 78.2%, he adds.

UncommonGoods sees the use of AgilOne and Silverpop as an effective way to retain customers while also operating more efficient e-mail campaigns, Notes says. It also expects it to keep customers engaged as it focuses on growing through new product categories, including art and hand-made crafts.

Going forward, Notes says the retailer will also consider using a feature within Silverpop that lets it track what customers look at on, then automatically send them an e-mail marketing message related to the products they viewed. “If customers are looking at home décor products, we may automatically send them an e-mail on home décor,” he says. The next step, he adds, will be to possibly combine that behavioral marketing with AgilOne analytics to determine the optimal frequency to send such e-mails to various customer segments, he adds.

AgilOne, which hosts its technology on the Internet, charges fees starting at $2,000 per month for its e-mail services. It charges additional fees for analytics systems that provide assistance in determining how segments of customers will respond to online and in-store merchandising offers as well as e-mail campaigns.

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