This Is Personal!

  |  September 15, 2011   |  Comments

The inbox is an important part of your customer's life. Here are three suggestions on how to add value to your email communications.

"All email communication will be of value and personal to every customer." This is a strong statement, but not an unrealistic one.

Email should contain content and a message that piques the interest and engagement of your customer. When you communicate with your customers, remember that your communication is a representation of your business and your brand. What's more, the inbox is an important part of your customer's life, a very personal place that should be treated as such.

As well as providing value, you also need to be consistent across all communication. If your messages are not coordinated across all channels (email, Facebook, Twitter), then your customer may have an imbalanced experience with your brand.

Social media is quickly impacting every channel of communication. As such, integration of social media in email has never been more important. As consumers of email, we have learned to expect a more relevant degree of communication. For example, we now receive email to get daily discounts and alerts when tickets for our favorite band are on sale or when our preferred brands are running deals. We are not as likely to tolerate receiving 10 emails because now we expect that email should be more relevant.

Here are three suggestions on how to add value to your email communications:

  1. Get personal by versioning a component of regular email and make it relevant. The best two sources of data to use for versioning are declared data (preference center/welcome program) and behavioral data (browsed and click data).

    A component of regular, calendared email marketing should be relevant. Preference center data is the most relevant at time of action or update. Integrate this data into welcome series emails when they have just selected their preferences. Another clear action that begs for follow-up is when customers update their profile. Deliver a tailored communication stream according to their updates to bring greater relevance to your communications with them.

    Browsed and clicked data, although harder to implement, can give you the biggest response return. Try versioning a component of the message based on recent website browsed data and recent email clicked data. Both sources will add value to a component of regular communication.
  2. Offer value at the right time by messaging in the lifecycle. Messaging customers at the right time is another key way to add value to communications. No matter what your industry, there are messages that can be automated, particularly around a conversion. Examples include:
    • Order confirmation with valuable information
    • Replenishment programs
    • In-stock notifications
    • Flight updates and alerts
    To get started, hone in on the top five valuable pieces of information your customer would want to receive as automated regular communication, then prioritize and schedule the order of sending the email to implement based on what will make the biggest impact.
  3. Listen to your customers. Email should be a two-way communication - a conversation. There is no doubt that social media's impact on email has transformed our behavior with it. Customers now expect to have an avenue to communicate with their favorite brands. Here are some ways you can offer your customers a voice:
    • Provide the ability to share stories across social networks
    • Invite them to comment about a recent purchase on Facebook or Twitter
    • Send review solicitation emails
    • Ask them to rate an email or send small email surveys
    Another tactic is to monitor replies. This practice can give you enlightening feedback while providing a good customer experience.

Our use of email has changed, and, as marketers, we have to evolve our approach to ensure high levels of engagement. Add value to email communications to provide all customers a brand experience they deserve.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Hayes

Matt Hayes is the director of services strategy at Lyris. With experience in the e-mail industry both in the U.S. and in the U.K., Matt has deep knowledge and experience working with clients in the strategy and development of welcome programs, lifecycle campaigns, list retention and growth, Web behavior segmentation, and e-mail design. Matt started his e-mail career at a U.K. agency that became Lyris UK and was instrumental in managing e-mail marketing campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the U.K. Matt's background is specialized in high-end fashion retail where he set up revenue-driving campaigns. In 2009, Matt moved to San Francisco to manage a team of campaign specialists and drove e-mail marketing strategy for clients in the U.S.

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