There Are Glad Tidings For This Season Of Good Cheer …

Email fans love email. Forrester data shows that email is the number one way that people find out about brands, sales, and promotions. But even more merry and bright is the passion that email users feel for the medium! In our quick “pulse check” poll of Forrester’s ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community (MROC) about email marketing, more than 350 respondents said that they could not imagine a scenario in which they would stop using email, and 21 said that only death or medical issues could keep them from their inboxes. One member sums up the value of email in her life: “I’m entirely dependent on email communication with family, friends, colleagues, physicians, and other service personnel.”

… But There Is Bad News In This Christmas Carol

Consumers feel battered by email marketing. More than half of Forrester’s MROC respondents describe promotional emails as “bombarding,” “a nuisance,” or “overwhelming.” Words such sa “invasive,” “aggressive,” and “deceitful” describe why these respondents unsubscribe. Sending too much too often, forcing registrations, mishandling unsubscribe attempts, or just pushing for transactions indiscriminately all have a devastating effect on holiday sales, customer lifetime value, sender reputation, and brand equity. Consider the negative emotion that this MROC respondent expresses: A brand “bombarded me with daily emails, which made me feel violated. They were being too aggressive and irresponsible.”

Respect Your Customer’s Inboxes This Holiday Season

People like email and want to hear from brands they love, and they treat their inboxes as extensions of their personal space. Businesses focus on sales above all else, and they consider email inboxes as one more place to drive transactions. This disconnect about the role of the inbox breaks email’s conversational nature, which is exactly what people like about the medium and what makes it useful to a marketer. Your email programs will perform better and your long-term customer loyalty will grow if you respect consumers’ inbox intimacy expectations:

  • Heed the signals that your customers are giving. Users show how they feel about your emails by whether they open, delete, or file them. Almost 60 MROC respondents admit that they subscribe to emails almost always by accident, because the site requires it, or to claim a one-time benefit. Lane Bryant grew revenue from email by 72% once it mapped email offers to user context like the amount of their last purchase, purchase frequency, or if they presently had an item in their shopping cart. When an email experience is negative, subscribers will opt out or take further action to retaliate. During the past six months, 65% of our 759 MROC respondents unsubscribed from an email program and 46% reported unwanted emails as spam. The retailer Replacements, Ltd. prevents opt-outs by sending fewer messages to subscribers who have lower email engagement. Avoidance behaviors are insidiously hard to detect; email recipients avoid action or set up a situation that prevents future action. Prevent avoidance through regular data hygiene deliverability and inbox forensics from vendors such as Validity and by encouraging subscribers to take an action, even if it’s a punishment. KFC Philippines nudges inactive customers after 45 days by asking them to check out the menu and available promotions; recipients who remain silent for another 15 days receive a free delivery voucher.
  • Humanize your approach to email. Being insights-driven or running automated campaigns doesn’t mean forgetting how humans think and move through life. Use all the data, models, and predictive analytics available to you and also apply empathy. A brand sending multiple “buy now” emails about a product that a customer already bought doesn’t make sense. Augmented intelligence — using AI to improve, not replace, human intelligence — yields better decisions and greater productivity. Spotify brings its data scientists together with its qualitative researchers precisely to enable data-driven personalization that also makes real-life sense. When developing your email content and cadence, deliberately ask: How will this make our customers feel?
  • Value the email medium. Email’s low cost does not mean that it holds a low position in your customer’s expectations. Inboxes are the place where they most expect you to see them and appreciate who they are and what they need. Think of email as an entry point to customer obsession, not as a promotions delivery device. Forrester’s data shows that 54% of US online adults who belong to a loyalty program join them because getting special treatment is important to them and that 43% unsubscribe when the program isn’t relevant. Ancient Nutrition consolidated its messaging platforms so that it could more effectively email to deliver the science-based wellness educational content that is the backbone of its brand.