Can small businesses still compete with the Goliaths of the world for consumers' loyalty?
Five years ago (right after the big market crash) I started working with a financial institution on helping them with their branding, reach, and engagement. We had to work very hard to build up on consumer confidence when the market was at an all-time low.
As part of the engagement we set up multiple financial seminars on the web - savings, retirement, investment, college tuition, etc. The financial institution hosting the seminar offered lots of good tips and they closed by simply directing attendees to a page full of calculators.
The calculators were tremendous - not only were consumers able to evaluate multiple scenarios, the calculators were intuitive and were directly connected to more useful information.
It was easy to find information, and questions were answered within the hour. Consumers left their site empowered and expected a barrage of aggressive sales activity. Surprisingly, the follow-up was very soft - a welcome change.
They first started with a thank you note, with a link to their FAQs and their resource center. They continued to send information in a systematic manner over the course of 10 days. Every communiqué had a mild ask - "Would you like to speak to one of our experts?" (I hope nurture campaigns can learn from them.)
Usually, the third to fifth email led to a click on the appointment link. Again, the lack of sales pressure was amazing. Consumers would open their first account, provide information about their household, and provide detailed preferences. The financial institution would then stay in touch with you with two types of messages.
First, they made sure they kept in touch with the consumer about their account. This message would include performance, benchmarks, and projections. Depending on click activity, consumers were sent other content. The strategy was simple - a lack of a click would lead to a gentle reminder, a click would get you more detail, and there was an occasional phone call.
The second stream of messages was focused on new product marketing. Based on preferences, the consumer continued to get other offers. The key difference was that they tried very hard to keep the offers relevant. The other important consideration was that they leveraged the reporting from the account information emails to adjust their messages. Finally, they never sent both messages on the same day.
The financial institution was very successful. They had earned consumer trust. The financial institution was a true partner. Consumers kept investing more and always recommended them to friends. Their communiqués came across five channels - email, mobile confirmations, tips on social media channels, call center, and wonderfully coordinated postcards.
Last year, this phenomenal institution was completely devoured by a big fish. The changes started slowly but it is just amazing to see the difference. Every consumer gets every offer from them - I am told that this way they do not miss out. Every message has a strong sales component. And, yes, they do track your email - if you open or click, you will get a phone call from their call center in a land far away.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Sundeep Kapur has been assisting organizations with their converged channel marketing strategies since 1990. From direct marketing to digital to converged, he is a passionate teacher who works with businesses across multiple industries, helping them to enable technology and services to brand, and personalize and speak to consumers more effectively.
He is an industry-recognized expert who has delivered keynotes, run panels, and delivered "relevant, inspirational, and outstanding" education for organizations around the world.
Sundeep is also an avid user of social media, having leveraged words, pictures, and video into a conversational digital book. His daily dose of best practices can be found at www.EmailYogi.com, where he has more than 1,200 articles on best practices.
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