Using the 'First Date' Approach to Email

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by PushSend, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. PushSend

    PushSend VIP

    Apr 12, 2011
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    The holiday season is a great time to study the habits of email marketers. We receive more emails over a shorter period time than any other time of year. And, through our own online shopping, we are likely introduced to more new marketers than any other time of the year.

    One of the things that really struck me this Christmas season was the way some online retailers treated a single purchase by me as if that meant I was suddenly the best prospect for everything they had to offer. A couple of merchants who deluged me with email offers following a purchase were ones with whom I hadn't even opted in to receive email offers. They assumed, incorrectly in both cases, that my single, specific gift purchase from them meant I was rabid about their entire product line.

    I like to use the analogy here of asking someone on a date versus asking for her hand in marriage. The marketers who swamped me with emails had taken the position that my single purchase was a proposal for marriage and acted accordingly. They assumed that I would be thrilled to receive each new offer in my inbox because I was so "in love" with their brand and product selection. They would have been much better off acting as if my purchase from them represented a first date. If they had taken this route, what might they have done differently?

    First, they would have realized that the item I purchased was likely a gift -- after all, it was the Christmas season. With that in mind, they would not have automatically proceeded to lump me into their ongoing seasonal email blasts with folks who actually had opted in to receive emails from them. Second, they would have assumed that a first date doesn't always lead to a second date, so they would have gone out of their way to act on their best behavior. What would that have looked like? Well, like any good date, they would have been a good listener, giving me every opportunity to talk about myself. For whom was I buying the item? How did I find them in the first place? Did I need help finding gift ideas for other people on my list?

    Of course, I wouldn't have given a marketer this information out of the goodness of my heart. But make it worth my while (did I hear "free express shipping?") and I'll be glad to tell my "date" things about myself. And on the basis of what I tell the marketer, that company can then provide a more intelligent and targeted email program that recognizes where we are in our relationship. One that doesn't assume I've proposed.

    And while we're on this subject, those marketers who use SEM should follow the same advice. I first addressed this topic in this column back in 2006 (I've been writing this column for that long?!). Despite the six years that have passed since I first made this point, too many marketers continue to assume that someone conducting a search for something is ready to get married right away. And their landing pages reflect that, offering either a pathway to immediate purchase (marriage), or nothing. Yet it remains the case that consumers are often merely looking for information about a product or a category. If the only option you give that person is "marry me now" or go away, then you are being shortsighted and not getting the most out of your SEM.

    So what I said in 2006 still holds true today. Landing pages (whether actually part of your site or a standalone) should offer more options other than "buy now" or "go home." Particularly in certain categories -- travel, automotive and financial services come to mind -- the ability to opt in to email offers a valid third path for consumers who want information now, with a purchase coming at some later date. In essence, the value of information at this point in the purchase cycle is inversely proportional to the value of the brand. But while information is king early on, as the point of purchase approaches there is a switch where additional information decreases in value while the value of branding increases. You want to be the brand that is the information provider early on, so you're in the game at the end.

    Allowing consumers to date your brand, whether it's after a purchase on your website or after landing on one of your pages, lets you grow your subscriber list, respond more relevantly to their needs, and most importantly drive more conversions down the road. With a little work and a little luck they might grow to "love" your brand over time -- or at least "like" it on Facebook! You just have to be patient.

    source: Stumble

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