Is your email campaign breaking your brand promise?

Launching an engaging email campaign includes ensuring that the content correlates with and ultimately fulfills your brand promise.

Launching an engaging email campaign includes ensuring that the content correlates with and ultimately fulfills your brand promise.

A brand promise should connect your purpose, your positioning, your strategy, and your customer experiences consistently across all of your channels. A strong brand promise differentiates you from your competitors and enables you to deliver your brand in a way that connects emotionally with your customers. Unfortunately, brand promises are a casualty of the “ready – aim– fire” mentality that pervades email marketing.

Your mission then is to re-examine your brand promise, and see how it aligns with all of your customer communications and touch points – especially in your email messages.

Woot!: When a brand promise goes astray

I was a loyal fan of the Woot! emails, which featured one random deal of the day. I opened them every day, clicking on many and buying regularly. The catch was that each daily deal had a limited quantity. If you didn’t act fast, you lost out.

Why were they so captivating, and why did I seek them out even if they were buried under a blizzard of Black Friday emails?

Maybe it was the random nature of each daily deal: today, a reconditioned PC – tomorrow, a patio umbrella. Or maybe I just liked the content’s tone, which aligned perfectly with Woot!’s website copy that mocked the dead-serious attitude of many online merchants. In essence, it said, “We’re just guys trying to sell crap, and here’s some crap you might want to buy.”

Ultimately, I recognized that every communication – the daily email, website copy, the transactional emails, and so forth – tied back to Woot!’s brand promise. Even the occasional “Five dollar bag of crap” deals that were always inevitably sold out by the time I clicked on them were part of that focused marketing strategy.

woot bag of crap screenshot

But over the last few months, I noticed Woot!’s website and email designs had deviated from this brand promise. Instead of a single, limited-quantity daily deal from one of its nine verticals, it now sells evergreen products across dozens of verticals.

The new email design even has a tagline that tells you how many hundreds of deals you can choose from that day – maybe 424 deals that day instead of one. That’s Amazon’s brand promise, not Woot!’s.

This isn’t all that surprising, because Amazon did buy Woot! in 2010. But I already get Amazon emails and hundreds of others that also push 424 deals a day. Now that Woot!’s emails have been remade in Amazon’s image, I don’t have the same drive to hunt them down in my crammed inbox – let alone open, click, and buy.

Why you must define your brand promise

I worked for a major retailer that sold in stores worldwide via direct mail and online, and had a tightly defined picture of its customer. We didn’t think of our brand promise as a pact with the generic “our customers.” Instead, we got specific. Our buyer personas had names and back stories like “Mary – mother of two who works part-time as a medical assistant and loves yoga.” After all, a promise should be personal.

mommy baby yoga

We didn’t ask ourselves, “How would our customers respond to this?” Instead, we asked, “Does this align with Mary and her kids?” Additionally, we didn’t hesitate to shoot down ideas because they wouldn’t appeal to her.

Knowing your brand promise means knowing what your brand or company is at its core and being able to say “Our brand is … .”. It’s not a mission statement. Think of your brand and its customers as people or relationships. Put that image on posters and hang them where everyone can see and refer to them, whether they’re creating a design, coming up with strategy, developing promotions or writing copy.

In email copy, this means every subject line, every headline, every image, every promotion, all copy, and design must tie back to your brand promise. The first time you deviate from that, you start to lose sight of your customers. Keep on doing that, and one day you’ll wake up to find your emails have veered so far from your brand promise that people aren’t buying or even opening them anymore.

Final thoughts

The fast pace of daily email marketing makes us especially prone to this loss of focus. So step back and say, “What is the thing that makes us who we are, and how are we aligned with that in our emails?”

Meanwhile, I hope Woot! takes me up on this challenge and gets back to its delivering on its core brand promise. I really miss those five dollar bags of crap.

/IMG/730/332730/ryan-phelan-headshot-140x140Ryan Phelan is the vice president of marketing insights for Adestra.





Homepage image via Pixabay.

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