The Email Frequency Policy

This section provides an overview of the Email Frequency Policy, which Online Marketing uses to manage email frequency, and discusses:

  • Frequency policy rules.

  • Email frequency queue.

You define the email frequency policy on the Global Options page.

When it is enabled, the global frequency policy governs all emails that Online Marketing sends, for all online dialogs. It specifies the defaults for whether the counter should be incremented with each email, the maximum number of days that emails should remain in the queue before being removed, and how the queue should behave.

Once it has been enabled, disabling the global frequency policy results in the loss of all prior logging of email. No historical data is retained. Further, it also results in the immediate sending of all the waiting emails that are currently in the email frequency queue. If you do not want this to occur, you must delete all messages from the queue using the Control Center's Email Frequency Queue page.

You can override the global frequency policy on the Broadcast Email and Single Email pages in the dialog flow—in this case, the system will use the settings you specify for that email only, but the global policy will continue to be in effect for all other emails.

See Setting Global Options.

See Understanding Control Center.

See Understanding Dialogs.

Email frequency policies specify the number of emails that can be sent to a recipient in a specified time period. Each email frequency policy can contain four policy rules.

Each contact has four aggregated counters to keep track of how many emails the contact has been sent. These counters correspond to four counter rules, which consist of a maximum email count and a time duration. For example, you might specify a one-day count, a seven-day count, a 30-day count, and a 90-day count. You can set each rule independently to Active or Inactive; only the counters corresponding to rules that are in the Active state will be updated.

Rolling counter policy rules are used to age out messages that are reflected in counters. Each time an email is sent, the recipient's counter is incremented. Each night, a batch job runs to decrement the rule counters for those messages that are older than the rule calendar window. When these counters have been decremented, any emails that are queued can be sent (provided that they comply with any other rules set for that recipient).

By default, four global calendar counter rules are included: 1 day, 7 days, 30 days, and 90 days. You can change these rules globally, or you can change them by individual email.

Note: The system enforces consistency between the rules so that they do not contradict each other: for example, you cannot specify one rule as 1 email per 7 days and another rule as 10 emails per 30 days. The 7-day rule would prevent the 30-day rule from being enforced.

Counters and Counter Calculation

Database tables keep track of the daily email count for a contact. The maximum number of days allowed in defining a policy rule is 365.

To calculate the count, a Process Scheduler batch job runs at a specified time to reset the daily email count log. It reads from the daily count log and produces the aggregated count, according to the active rules. (For example, if a rule's counter is 7 days, the batch job determines the current day and selects the past 7 days' logs (including the current day) .

When emails cannot be sent to a recipient because he or she has already received the maximum allowable emails for that time period, the remaining emails are placed on the email frequency queue, where they remain until one of four things happens:

  • They age out of the policy rule and become eligible for sending, at which point they are sent.

  • They reach their expiration date (the date after which they should no longer be sent) and they are removed from the queue.

  • The global email frequency policy is deactivated, at which point the system attempts to send all the waiting emails in the queue.

  • They are manually deleted from the queue.

You can specify (on the global or individual email level) whether the email should be queued if it cannot be sent—if you choose the Do Not Queue option, emails that cannot be sent because they violate the frequency policy will simply be discarded.

You can also specify whether or not to count an email task with the frequency counter. If you specify Do Not Count, the mail service does not increment the frequency counter for that email. Like Do Not Queue, you can specify Do Not Count at the global or individual level.

If you have specified that emails should be queued and that the frequency counter is active, then each time a contact's frequency counter is decremented, the system scans the email queue to see if there are any pending emails for that recipient. Any emails that can be sent (according to the policy) are sent until the recipient's counter once again reaches the maximum allowed by the policy rules.

Expiration of Queued Emails

Every email that is queued because of the frequency counter has an expiration date. This is the date after which the content expires, so that even if it “ages out” of the count and should be allowed to send, it will be removed from the queue and not sent. You can specify the expiration date as an actual date or as a “shelf life”—that is, a time period from the queuing date (for example, 7 days from the date the email is added to the queue).

Note: If an email from a repeating trigger is to be queued, and an email from an earlier sequence exists, the new email will not be added to the queue; instead, it will immediately expire.

Single Email Notifications

Single emails sent to specific addresses (for example, email notifications) are excluded from the frequency policy: they are sent immediately, are not counted toward the user's total for the purpose of incrementing the frequency counters, and are not queued.

Overriding the Frequency Policy

You can choose to override the frequency policy for an email task, opting to ignore the frequency policy rules and send any emails immediately. These emails are still logged, and the frequency counter is still incremented. When you run Dialog Check, you will get a notice that these emails are overriding the frequency policy.

Managing the Email Frequency Queue

You manage the email frequency queue using the Online Marketing Control Center, using the Email Frequency Queue Report page. From there, you can update the queue, delete all queued emails, and attempt to recover failed emails,

See Administering the Frequency Emailer Queue.

Testing Dialogs with Frequency Policies

When a dialog is placed in the Test state, all of its email tasks are created with Override Frequency Policy and Do Not Count selected. This means that staged emails will always be sent, and they will not affect the Live dialog execution. It also means that you will not need to remove queued emails when testing dialogs.