As a practitioner in the email marketing space, my being truly impressed with an email experience doesn't really happen that often. After all, a brand doing what it "should" is an expectation that I have - because I know they can. But I had a unique experience with a brand recently that I thought would be extremely valuable to share with all of you. You may not deem this an "advanced" email marketing tactic (yet), but the reality is that…well, it is.
Your customers have come to expect and rely upon the email communications they get from you. It is something of a lifeline, or a direct connection between them and your brand. But too often, that direct connection is cut short by marketers in an attempt to simplify their own lives. What am I talking about here? You guessed it: the dreaded "do not reply."
As marketers, we have become complacent with telling our customers to not respond to us. It goes something like this: marketer sends email, invokes a question or a need to engage by the customer, customer hits reply, automated message comes back that says the inbox is not monitored and to not reply. Come on! Is that really the message we want to send customers who we are trying to drive to engage with us?
Recently, I ordered replacement contacts from 1-800 Contacts. I needed to get them quickly and just went through the quick process of reordering since I had done so previously. Hours later, I was thumbing through my email and saw my confirmation message in my inbox (to be clear, it didn't take the company that long to send it, it took me that long to look at it), and it jumped right off the page at me! The shipping address was wrong (we recently moved and I didn't update it on the account). It was my own stupidity and haste.
My first inclination - even though I know better - was to hit reply to the purchase confirmation and beg them to correct the address. I did so, knowing it would be in total vain - but I figured I would try it anyway. Much to my surprise…Kari responded. And she fixed my address, corrected my order, and confirmed my delivery date - all within 15 minutes of my sending the initial message. I was floored.
I'm more convinced than ever that more of us should take a page from the 1-800 Contacts playbook. The advice here is to be more open to receiving feedback and replies from your customers via all of your email touches.
You can really create a smile on the face of a customer and get some seriously great feedback and insights from customers with this simple approach. Yes, it will require having someone (or a team) actively managing your reply address, but if the result is better customer service and loyalty, I would argue it's likely worth the cost. In the end, they have given your email the attention that you requested, and you owe them the same attention to their response - in whatever form they choose to provide it.
Email image on home page via Shutterstock.
Editor's Note: As 2013 comes to a close, we're pleased to share our top email columns of the year. This article was originally published March 19, 2013.
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A 12-year email marketing veteran, Kara has been actively involved in programmatic email development, execution, and strategy in a variety of senior positions on the client, agency, and provider side. Most recently, Kara was founder and principal of The Email Advisor, a respected email marketing consultancy focusing on email strategy and channel optimization. Prior to launching The Email Advisor, Kara led strategic services for the email division of Premiere Global Services, where she worked with global organizations structuring a variety of custom email education programs, conceptualizing and implementing new and innovative email programs, optimizing contact strategies, and developing staffing and budget plans.
March 19, 2014