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What if People Don't Know What to Do With Your E-mails?

  |  January 19, 2010   |  Comments

It's time to focus on ensuring you have a strong consumer convenience connection. Here are three ways to start.

When we think about marketing e-mails these days, we tend to think about two unique types:

  • The brand e-mail -- which drives no immediate behavior, but has an impact on future efforts.

  • The direct marketing e-mail -- which primarily drives a one "instance" click and hopefully a purchase.

But, have you ever stopped to think of what percentage of your e-mails falls into another bucket? A bucket of people who aren't sure what you want them to do?

I realize that may be a silly question in your mind. How can anyone not know what to do when an e-mail comes? It's e-mail after all. Not necessarily true. I decided to do a makeshift survey to explore this topic further. My initial findings showed that only 41 percent of people who have opted in to a company's list for one reason or another felt they knew why the company was sending e-mail to them, and what the expected response was. That means 59 percent of the responders were unsure of why they received the e-mail they got, or what they were supposed to do with it.

It sounds kind of strange considering that most e-mail copy is very clear: "learn more," "buy now," "register," "stay tuned," etc. What seemed to be confusing to recipients is the lack of relationship between the reason and driver for them signing up for e-mails, and the messages they receive.

For example:

Mary sees a banner and goes to your Web site. She is really interested in recipes you offer. She signs up for your e-mail on the recipes page.

She gets a great welcome e-mail and an e-mail about recipes, but then starts receiving e-mails selling other things on your site. It's not that she doesn't know what to do when she reads the e-mails, it's that she hasn't been trained on how to make the "consumer convenience connection" to those e-mails and the content inside. No transition or connection was made between "you love our recipes, maybe you will also love the tools we use to cook them" or "now that you have tried our recipes, try learning more about xxx." (This scenario holds true for the B2B (define) space as well. Just use the example above and replace recipes with events.)

While seemingly simple in theory, many e-mail marketing companies find "responders" to a certain e-mail and decide to try to extend the relationship by introducing other offers and services. When done without careful planning and context, you could be confusing your customer.

So, how do you avoid this?

There are three questions you should ask yourself to ensure your e-mails don't fall into this trap:

  1. If you printed out one of your e-mails and gave it to someone on the street to read, would they be able to understand what the value prop is, without any explanation?

  2. If someone signs up on your Web site, on a certain page, is the first e-mail they receive about that topic?

  3. Do you segment responsiveness by topic if your company offers more than one? If not, you should.

Asking yourself these three questions will help you get to the heart of how effective your e-mails are in enabling readers to know what to do.

I found this study so interesting that I decided to put my money where my mouth is with VIVmag.com. Using the expert assistance of Alchemy Worx, we are going to start from scratch with rebuilding an e-mail program that improves sales and engagement by focusing on ensuring we have a strong "consumer convenience connection."

Follow my column for updates on how this effort goes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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