Use E-Mail to Optimize Your Brand
E-mail is just about direct response, right? Wrong!
E-mail is just about direct response, right? Wrong!
E-mail impacts brand, you say? But email is a direct response medium that has nothing to do with branding, right? Actually, email is the most personal form of communication outside of good old-fashioned face-to-face communication, which is very often cost-prohibitive when you’re doing mass marketing and communication.
So how is email related to brand? Having spent many years working with different media, I have witnessed the power of email and its ability to impact all the key attributes critical to building one’s brand, including brand awareness, preference, satisfaction, loyalty, and purchase intent.
In this highly competitive marketplace, it is critically important to understand your customers’ needs and how your unique selling proposition satisfies those needs versus competing offerings. Once you’ve determined that, it’s critical you clearly and consistently live up to your brand promise.
The Increasing Value of E-Mail
A case in point: my early online shopping experiences. When I got my first email confirmation from a particular retailer, confirming receipt and processing of my online order, I was relieved, satisfied, and extremely impressed with the overall process, since it was not in common practice at the time. The brand message I received was the retailer cares about its customers’ most worrisome question, “Has my product been shipped and where is it?” I also thought at the time this retailer had set the bar for online shopping.
Then it went a step further: The retailer confirmed shipment of the order and offered email updates on the status of the shipment. I thought, “Wow, this is great customer service. I don’t even have to call an 800 line to check on my shipment!” The brand message was getting hotter — the company wanted me kept posted every step of the way.
The bar was raised yet again: I received a shipment confirmation with a list of recommendations on other products to purchase based on my purchase profile and the purchase patterns of other shoppers with similar buying habits. “Hmm… my own personal shopper offering me a list of statistically relevant items — not bad,” I thought. “This brand cares enough to use all the information it knows about me to make suggestions. No one else does that!”
And it hasn’t ended there. The services and alerts continue to expand and, best of all, I open them all and often act upon them, primarily because the company exceeded my brand expectations.
Needless to say, I have a love/love relationship with this online retailer, which remains the first destination for me every holiday. Did these frequent, helpful, and relevant email messages have an impact on my satisfaction, loyalty, and purchase intent? Absolutely, and I can say for certain those experiences have positively impacted my view of that retailer’s brand. They’ve also driven me to actively recommend the brand to many people over the years.
E-Mail and the Brand Experience
Being in the email communications business and meeting hundreds of marketers across all major industries each year, I’m increasingly exposed to stories like the above that demonstrate the increasing value of email on brand, brand preference, and purchase intent. On its way to revolutionizing business processes and driving significant revenue for marketers, email has also greatly affected the overall brand experience.
For example, one of our financial services clients offers email alerts for activities corresponding to their customers’ credit cards. E-mails are automatically triggered and delivered to customers when their bills are ready online, when payments are received (or not received), and when spending limits are approached, among other criteria. The result: a 25 percent reduction in telephone call volume, along with the corresponding savings in processing those calls. In addition, shortened call queues and hold times lead to higher overall customer satisfaction. Not bad for pennies a message.
No other medium provides brand managers with as much real-time direct feedback as do properly executed email dialogues. The quality of the relationship between your brand and your customer can be maintained on a contact by contact basis.
Using the Power of E-Mail
So how can you use the power of email to improve your brand? When done right, email is guaranteed to generate positive results. But when executed incorrectly, you can damage your brand as much as you can help it (e.g., sending emails that promote snow tires to customers in Florida). So, to avoid the unwanted recipient reactions such as, “What’s this nonsense in my inbox?” and generate the desired, “Wow — these guys are good!” comments, follow these helpful tips on your road to brand optimization through email:
Need some additional ideas about how email can play a role in your efforts to build your company’s brand? Check out Interbrand’s annual list of top brands in BusinessWeek. Opt in to receive email communications from each company — you may be surprised, alarmed, or shocked by the degrees of sophistication. In any case, remember this medium is still relatively new and the potential is enormous.
Finally, don’t forget the small guys who often teach the big brands a thing or two about the importance of innovation, risk taking, and speed to market. Pay careful attention to email address capture and messaging from local companies, such as your favorite restaurant and auto dealership. Very often, the small guys provide valuable lessons that can be critical to building competitive advantage and success.
Until next time…
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite marketing technology solutions!