One Giant Step for E-mail Marketing

Good-bye, wrinkles!

When I woke up this morning, I was really happy. I noticed the wrinkles are disappearing! Not the ones only Botox can help with. The ones that act as wall between e-mail and mobile messaging.

And I have Continental Airlines to thank for it.

This is a big thing for e-mail marketing. Over 15 years ago, e-mail entered the world as the true fourth method of personal communication (face to face, written, voice, electronic). Since then, people have tried to discount e-mail’s value, sometimes by categorizing it as spam, other times relegating it to a noneffective marketing vehicle. In recent years, many have even tried to substantiate new methods of electronic personal communication (such as RSS, SMS (define), MMS (define), and social e-mail) by giving them their own names, trying to make them their own standalone channels, and insisting they possess some secret value, more powerful than e-mail.

This diffusion of attention to electronic messaging does nothing more than cause budgetary confusion and brand dissection. It’s like the toy soldier in the photo below battling in the very real, very large world. The task is overwhelming!

toy soldier

And so it is with e-mail. E-mail is more valuable to consumers today than almost any other mode of communication. It allows us to discern whether the message is secure, provides us relevant information, speaks to us, and delivers on the expectations we have set. And when the messages we receive don’t live up to those standard, we can easily opt out — without having to give out any other information. It buffers us from unwanted communications.

But the media don’t the understand this. They don’t respect e-mail.

Marketers are helping with the battle. By pushing for e-mail marketing acceptance, you help convince the world that e-mail is a viable, wanted marketing communication vehicle.

Continental has been perceptive enough to recognize the secrets of making electronic messaging work and integrated that knowledge into its communications with clients. Here’s how:

  • It’s always striven to stay ahead of the curve. Early on, Continental owned best practices in preference centers. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out:

    Continental preference center screenshot
    click to enlarge

  • It takes chances. Continental was an early adopter of RSS and mobile messaging. I had the chance to work with Continental for a bit a few years ago and was impressed by its willingness to look toward the future.
  • It speaks to the consumer. As a Continental frequent flyer, I’ve always been impressed with the way it creates messaging that will help make my flight planning and execution easier. Unlike other airlines, Continental makes me feel like a valued customer by sending me e-mail that lets me know about the opportunities to check in online or even check in 24 hours before my flight to ensure I get the best seat. These transactional messages aren’t viewed as interruptive at all. They’re appreciated.
  • It doesn’t rest. Last week, I was heading to San Francisco and made my reservations as usual. With other airlines I plan on spending 20 minutes digging through e-mail to find my itinerary details and organize everything before I fly. With Continental, I’m lazy. I rely on the e-mail (sent 24 hours ahead of time) with all the nicely packaged details and the opportunity to check in online. When I received the e-mail on my BlackBerry as usual, I saw something new that made me happy. The opening line of the e-mail said, “Wireless customers may check in at http://pda.continental.com/checkin.aspx?PNR=CZFFHD.”

    Finally! Someone understands the customer is a multichannel creature who doesn’t live or function within marketing department silos. This e-mail signified to me that Continental truly understands that its customers leverage different devices to enable a digital lifestyle, and e-mail is much more than copy sent to an inbox. It’s an electronic message you receive, regardless of the mode, device, or method you use to read it.

Thank you, Continental, for helping to fight the battle against wrinkles.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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