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E-mail: A Relationship Approach Is Expected

  |  February 28, 2011   |  Comments

Five ways to check the efficacy of your e-mail programs.

Go to any e-mail marketing conference or event and you will hear people saying that "the days of batch and blast are over." That "e-mail marketing has evolved" and many other nice sounding statements. But…are they right?

Last week at a breakfast with a colleague from the past, I was put on the spot when he asked me if relationship marketing was no longer important in the e-mail industry. He then proceeded to name six well-known brands who he recently signed up for e-mails with, and received nothing except discounts, deals, and offers. By the end of the breakfast, we coined the phrase "the Groupon phenomenon" and chalked a lot of the behavior up to the perception that e-mail recipients respond well to deals.

After the breakfast I went back to the office and took a look at my onboarding strategies, as well as others. What I found was, he was right. Most companies these days give you a welcome e-mail and then plop you right into a deal-based strategy that may employ the latest retargeting techniques, mobile elements, or other social features. Yet, it appears we have lost something that has become valued and expected by our consumers: the relationship building messages.

In a world where we suffer inbox asphyxiation, it makes sense. What brand wants to crowd an inbox with e-mails that just say "thanks" or point out product features? At the end of the day, however, it seems removal of these programs is somewhat shortsighted.

Here are five ways you might want to check the efficacy of your e-mail programs:

  1. When a customer signs up for your e-mail program, how long does it take for them to get their first e-mail from you?
  2. What is the first e-mail they receive from you, and what is the content? Salesy, informational, etc?
  3. Do you have a set plan of messaging that someone received over the first 90 days of signing up for your e-mail?
  4. Have you matched your e-mails with buying habits of your new consumer? For example, at my company, we recently changed the timing of some of our e-mails when we found out that after the very first purchase, most people wait four weeks to make their second, third, and fourth purchases.
  5. Do you know your critical drop-off point? For example, with one client I used to work with, they knew if they did not open an e-mail within the first 60 days, that client would not buy from them ever.

These starter questions could help ensure your e-mail program has not fallen into a rut. If you know a company who excels in this area, share it in the comments. Everyone always loves being inspired.


Jeanniey Mullen

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

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