No Thanks

  |  November 15, 2007   |  Comments

When's the last time you thanked your customers?

From my Brooklyn grammar school education, I'll always remember the special place reserved this time of year to commemorate the first Thanksgiving.

Our pilgrim ancestors, we learned, sat down at a table to thank God and others for all they were given, with some thankful for surviving another year in the new world.

Today, we observe Thanksgiving by setting aside a couple of hours with family and friends and sharing a holiday meal. We celebrate all that we've been given, all that we're thankful for, and what we appreciate about our lives.

Some of us spend this time acknowledging that we're fortunate. Others in the human family aren't so fortunate. We spend time in soup kitchens, giving our time and resources to those in need.

Each month, many of you read this and the other great columns on the Click Z Network to gain insight on ways to leverage the power of the e-communications platform. There are countless columns addressing improvements in relevance, deliverability, open and click through rates, and how to generate greater return on e-mail investments.

Many marketers are concerned deeply with crafting strategies to acquire more customers, retain existing customers, and grow your share of wallet with your current base. You're a vocal, powerful, driven audience of readers. I know because when I have touched a nerve either positively or negatively, I'm flooded with e-mail messages.

As you take time out to reflect on the holiday, here are some questions you should consider: When is the last time you thanked your customers? Do you really appreciate them?

Do you realize that your customer has gone through an incredible process of narrowing potential sources for a good or service and through some incredible magic, she's selected you as her provider.

Do you treat your customers like faceless, nameless entries in your database? Remember: Behind each entry in your e-mail file is a person with specific needs and desires. Some needs were fulfilled by your company and not your competitors. Are you grateful that you've been selected or do you take the customer transaction for granted? In our Google-driven world, do you think more about acquiring transactions rather than building relationships with existing customers?

Like you, I'm a consumer and spend a good deal of my disposable income purchasing products on the Internet and other channels. I'm amazed and insulted by the incredible lack of appreciation that most marketers have for me as a customer.

Just two weeks ago, for my Al's Angels charity, I purchased over $70,000 worth of toys at a major toy retailer. Did I receive a thank you e-mail from anyone? No. Will this retailer get my business next year? Not likely. I don't think they care about my business much less about me.

Too many merchants and service providers appear to be ungrateful for their customers and their business. Please don't tell me the boiler-plate piece of direct mail sent generically to my house proclaiming "happy holidays" does the trick.

Do you want to build incremental sales and profits? Do you really want to build better relationships between your company and your customers? Relationships that will have your customers spreading the news to their friends and family about what a great company you are?

Here's what you must do and there's still time.

Create a personalized e-mail message. (If you aren't doing personalization today, not sure what you're doing.) That message should read:

Dear First Name Customer,

All of us at Company Name wish you and your family a great Thanksgiving. We know you've had a choice in purchasing products like we sell and we're incredibly appreciative that you selected our company.

If you want to make a bigger impact, dynamically generate a list of the products/goods the customer purchased over the last year.

Then add:

It's our hope that all of the products you've purchased from us this year have exceeded your expectations in terms of quality and value. We hope to continue to earn your business and support in the year ahead. If there's anything we can do to be of greater service, please do not hesitate to contact us. Once again, thank you for your business.

Was that so difficult? If you don't have the time and your resources are constrained, drop me a note. We can help you get these messages out to your customers.

This Thanksgiving as you sit down at your table and give thanks for all that you have, remember the customers that allowed you to have the sales and profits. Make sure you rest easy after the pumpkin pie knowing that your customers this year recognize that you appreciate their business.

Thank you for being great readers of my column. I truly appreciate your interest and support.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Al D

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Al DiGuido

Long recognized as one of the direct response industry's premier innovators and a pioneer in e-mail communications, Al DiGuido brings over 20 years of marketing, sales, management, and operations expertise to his role as CEO of full-service digital marketing company Zeta Interactive. Formerly Epsilon Interactive's CEO, DiGuido also served as CEO of Bigfoot Interactive, CEO of Expression Engines, EVP at Ziff Davis, and publisher of Computer Shopper, where he launched, a groundbreaking direct-to-consumer e-commerce engine. Prior to Ziff Davis, he was VP/advertising director for Sports Inc. DiGuido also serves on the Direct Marketing Association's Ethics Policy Committee.

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