Increasing User Response Rates = Increasing User Fatigue?

A recent post on Donor Power Blog about segmenting your constituents by propensity to act rather than more traditional demographics (age, location, income, etc.), led to a rather interesting exchange on the NTEN Discuss listserv.

The basic point came down to the law of diminishing returns. “You need to find the individual elasticity of email.”

Sure, we want to communicate with our members. And we know that at least half the time they don’t read half of what we send them. So the temptation is to send again…and again…and again. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that the membership department sent a renewal reminder this morning, and two hours later, the meetings department sent an early bird promotion for the upcoming conference, after which the call for volunteers went out, and then the publications department emailed everyone about the new electronic publications catalogue at the end of the day.

And we wonder why people stop paying attention.

The relationship to social media should be obvious. OK, I know, web 2.0 isn’t going to fix everything. It’s not going to cure cancer or refill my depleted retirement account. But it can help you address email fatigue. Put your information out in RSS friendly formats, categorize it correctly, and your target audiences will segment themselves according to their own preferences without any additional effort on your part. And they’ll get the exact information they want in their own format and on their own schedule. How sweet is that?