Learn best practices from three companies who are doing CRM well: Zappos, LOVEFiLM, and Victoria's Secret.
Learn best practices from three companies who are doing CRM well: Zappos, LOVEFiLM, and Victoria's Secret.
Warning: This is what happens when you skip QA!
I guess I have become somewhat of a collector of "oops" email messages (see links below). It's become somewhat commonplace to send out an email with an error and then follow up with a correction. But make sure the cure isn't worse than the disease - check out this example from The eMarketing Association that was sent with the subject line "woops". There are three egregious errors in the first two sentences. Woops, indeed.
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Sorry, sorry, sorry!
Nothing tests the limits of your marketing team's speed more than realizing that there was a mistake in the email that was just sent - whether it was a broken link, an invalid voucher code, or just a mess of foreign characters where text should be.
As I've highlighted previously, the best thing to do is to just admit the mistake and address it as quickly as possible. If you find yourself in this situation, you're in good company. For reference, here is what other brands have done to address their mistakes. (Click images to enlarge.)
Issues with foreign languages and characters
Note lastminute.com's issue with foreign characters in the subject line. To rectify this, they removed the quotation marks and replaced them with single quotes.
They also fixed the more egregious error of a missing apostrophe. The original email copy also came through as gobbledygook, but sending a corrected email as quickly as possible afterwards limits customer service issues. However, too many mistakes can lead to an issue with brand perception (not to mention pink slips for the QA team).
Citrix sent out an email German to its UK audience. The problem: the wrong database was loaded. Since the recipients should not have received the email to begin with, sending an updated email in the correct language would not have made sense. Their only option was to send this explanatory email.
This OMMA Social session attempted to answer two questions: How do you prioritize, coordinate, and manage engagement points ranging from your Facebook page to email to the in-store experience? And how do you evolve your product-centric organization to one that is customer-centric?
Razorfish, Loyalty Lab, and Virgin America discussed results of their proprietary research found in Liminal: 2011 Customer Engagement Report. In their research, they confirmed what every CRM marketer should already know: “Engagement isn’t just about a channel. It is about the consumer’s relationship with a brand, his or her ability to choose how and when to engage, and the value each channel represents.”
Razorfish asked the question “How do we take a bottom-up, customer-centric approach to prioritize channels?” Their answer was to define six Engagement Elements that should be the starting point for brand interactions with consumers.
Brett Billick of Virgin America said they have renewed their focus on the traditionally engaged. For Virgin, email remains the 'bread and butter' channel for interacting with Virgin's high value customers. They endeavor to consistently improve based on customer feedback in order to ensure that they are sending the right and relevant content. An important note was that they found protecting the cadence of their email communications improved their metrics.
Virgin has a different communication stream through their social media channels. They serve the “socially savvy” with special promos. Though their socially connected users are a small percentage of their user base, they are highly valuable customers. For instance, they’ve found that customers who check in to their flights on a social networking site have a dramatically higher spend than their base loyalty program members.
Sites like Twitter and Foursquare know that the number of registered users is not nearly as important as the number of active users. So, it's important for these companies to communicate with users to ensure they stay relevant.
Twitter now has 200 million users, but how many are active? One year ago, RJ Metrics reported that only 20% of Twitter's users were active (then 15 million out of 75 million users). Twitter sends emails to users infrequently, so it's surprising that this one was rather uninspiring. First, it's a "Happy New Year" message that was sent on February 1 - did this email spend three weeks getting internal approvals?
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Dear Bloomingdale's: I am not your friend. None of my friends or family members work for Bloomingdale's. So why did I receive six emails in seven days about your "invite only" friends and family offer?
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The email Bloomingdale's sent was pretty generic looking, but not as generic as the promo code "GIFT" which only confirms that this is not an exclusive invite-only offer.
Macy's thinks they are my friend as well.
Airlines are starting to use the fact that they've cut passenger benefits to their advantage by using them strategically to drive customer behavior.
Delta sent out an e-mail today offering customers who sign up for the Delta Amex card their first checked bag for free. (To read the whole e-mail from Delta, scroll down to the bottom of this post.)
While it might be annoying to earn back this perk that customers once took for granted, for anyone considering flying Delta, there is clear value in accepting this offer.
United now lets customers buy some of the elite program benefits previously reserved for those who "earned" them by obtaining Premier status.
Let's see if RyanAir can turn going to the toilet into a loyalty perk. I pity the creative team tasked with that one.
Perhaps in response to recent marketing efforts by Costa Coffee, Starbucks is now offering free Wi-Fi to UK customers who have signed up for their Starbucks Reward loyalty program.
Interestingly, most of Starbucks' competitors in the UK do not offer free Wi-Fi, whereas in the U.S. many do - and they don't require customers to sign up for a loyalty program in order to receive it. Surely, it won't be long before another UK chain comes along and offers it completely free.
However, Starbucks is able to use their dominant market position to ask their dedicated customer base to jump through one small hoop in order to receive the benefit. While Starbucks may lose some business to customers who just want to use Wi-Fi on occasion and do not want to sign up for Starbucks Rewards in order to do so, they will gain a wealth of customer data which, if used properly, should help them innovate to stay competitive in the future.
The e-mail announcing free Wi-Fi is below, along with a teaser e-mail sent a month prior.
American Airlines is finally segmenting their Net SAAver Fares to avoid sending international customers irrelevant e-mail.(Click to enlarge.)
Although they have always had customer address details for their frequent flyer program members and thus the ability to send targeted e-mail, customers living outside the U.S. received fare offers not relevant to their point of departure.
Apparently, this is the latest in American's efforts to offer more personalized e-mail. A press release from American Airlines in January stated "Net SAAver e-mails now highlight destinations that are on sale from a customer's home airport or from a city that is close to their home, making it more relevant for the subscriber...Additionally, the new, personalized content includes special offers and other news that may be of interest to the customer."
It's good to see American is finally including international customers in their strategy. Shame about the appalling e-mail graphic, though.
Elance's customer data has been compromised. While this is harmful to any brand, trust can be restored in the way the brand communicates with their customers about the situation.
Elance is a service that connects businesses and independent service providers or contractors. I think I used the site only once to hire someone to do microfiche research in a New York library. Here is their security alert e-mail:
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The message is way too vague and does nothing to help restore trust in their service or their ability to prevent a future security breach. While they have further details on their web site, the e-mail leaves the reader wondering "Who has my data?", "What did Elance do to remedy the situation?," "How long have they known about this?," "When was the breach?" and importantly "What does this mean to me?". They should have been more specific within the e-mail about what they are doing to prevent this from happening again.
The call-to-action on this e-mail is entirely too weak. The e-mail reads "For information on re-setting your password..." when in fact it should say something along the lines of "We strongly recommend that you change your password immediately. Upon your next log in, you will be required to change it."
Finally, given that they admit on their web site that their users may receive spam e-mail and unwanted SMS solicitations, their apology seems limp.
This security breach is a major failure for their tech team and their marketing communications team.
My in box has been awash with invitations lately - from brands, that is. It seems many companies are eager to invite me to spend money. Some invite e-mails work better than others. Here are some examples.
Pizza Express has "invited" me to buy two pizzas for the price of one. Pizza Express has been running this two-for-one offer fairly regularly for at least 18 months, so it doesn't exactly feel like a special invitation. It would have worked better if they carried it through in the copy a bit more and made a more direct link with to having the recipient invite a friend out for dinner.
What's on Stage sent me an "exclusive invitation" to save £10 on theatre tickets. I don't know what could possibly be considered exclusive about this. I'm sure I signed up for their e-mail list at some point, but I didn't join any special group and I have no elite status with them, so I can only assume that everyone on their e-mail list has "exclusively" been invited. In the early days of e-mail marketing, sending an e-mail offer could be called exclusive because (at least for bricks-and-mortar businesses) the majority of their customers weren't on the e-mail list. It was a way of driving e-mail sign ups. What's on Stage, as far as I know, does not send any direct mail or any other form of customer communication, so their e-mail offer is not exclusive.
Northwest Airlines sent me two invite e-mails, a week apart. This suggests that the first one achieved a good response rate, or at least a good open rate. The first was an invite to apply for a credit card and the second was an invite to join a program called e-Miles. The latter feels more like a genuine invitation.
I also received an invite to a shopping party at Liberty. Although their objective is clearly to get me to spend money, I like this execution. It's an actual event, so an invite is appropriate. They've done several things right:
Overall, it's a strong execution that fits with their brand.
Finally, I received an invite from LinkedIn to their "private beta" release of some new features. My guess is that I was selected because I am a fairly regular user. Although they've told me I'm one of the "specially selected members", it would probably mean more to me if I know how I was selected. Nevertheless, I think this is a good execution: simple and to the point.
I recently received a thank-you e-mail from United Airlines*. It was just a simple message: "thanks for being our customer". No sales message. No call to action. I think this is a great move; loyalty communications do have an ROI that can't necessarily be measured by click through rates and conversion stats. In these tough economic times where marketers are under more pressure than ever to prove an ROI on everything they do, I applaud their courage in sending a thank you with no strings attached.
Has your client sent a thank-you message? Send me examples and I'll post the best ones.
*Full disclosure: United is a former client.
It starts with an early a.m. phone call from the client. Then you get that sinking feeling in your stomach. You go online as soon as you can get to a computer to confirm it: yes, there was a mistake in the e-mail. So, what do you do? First, put it in perspective. A friend of mine who worked for a mobile phone company used to say “we’re not saving lives, we’re just selling phones”. So, unless the flawed e-mail you sent could actually prevent you from saving lives, relax.
Then decide quickly how you’ll address the mistake. If you have to re-send the e-mail, the best thing to do is just come clean and admit you’ve made a mistake. After all, it doesn’t hurt to remind customers from time to time that there are humans on the other side of those e-mails they receive. Here are some examples of “Oops” e-mails I’ve received.
Going through my e-mail in box, I discovered something unusual: two e-mails, from two travel companies, sent within hours of each other, both with “discover” in the subject line. So which is better? Here’s a quick analysis.
Hilton’s subject line is “Discover Eastern Europe, USA shopping bargains plus new Luton Garden Inn”. It’s hardly inspiring. Unless you have a predisposition to visit Eastern Europe or the U.S. (or LUTON – seriously!), it doesn’t give you much of a reason to open the e-mail. Speaking of inspiration, instead of carrying through the discover theme into the body of the e-mail, they lead with last year’s inspiration theme. The word “discover” is not used once in their copy.
Expedia’s subject line is “Discover the friendliest place in the world”. Where is the friendliest place in the world, you wonder? There is only one way to find out – open the e-mail. The theme is then continued with a reiteration of the headline and an immediate payoff in the copy: “Lonely Planet voted Ireland the Friendliest Destination 2008.”
Expedia is a clear winner on copy alone. Design is another matter.
Karen Hastings, Cupcake’s founder (and a client) has had a strong vision for the brand from Day 1. Everything about Cupcake has been built with mums and mums-to-be in mind, from the class schedules, to the spa treatments, to chairs that are easy to get out of – even when heavily pregnant.
Cupcake asked for input from mums along every step of the way through informal focus groups. This was combined with rigorous research into the target market to create a luxury brand that fills a gap in the market. Cupcake spent time at the outset developing a clear definition of their target audience (besides the obvious) and invested in the creation of branding guidelines to ensure consistency with everything from on-site signage to their indulgent spa menu.
I'm thrilled to have played a small part in the building of the brand by developing The Icing on the Cupcake. This e-newsletter helped Cupcake establish itself in the marketplace and build a substantial customer database before construction even began.
This is a brand to watch in the next five years. You heard it here first!
A company called TowerData has received a U.S. patent for an e-mail change of address service which triples the amount of e-mail address updates that can be obtained from consumer databases. This is a useful development that marketers should know about. As with keeping your physical mailing list clean, keeping a clean e-mail list means no money or time wasted on sending to bad addresses. But more importantly, it means that you can keep in touch with your customers when they change their e-mail address. Generally, less frequently you communicate with customers, the greater likelihood they’ll forget to update their address with you. So your e-mail announcing a biannual sale won’t reach the intended recipient. It also means you’re more likely to reach customers during important times in their lives, such as a change of job or home.
The only drawback could be on the customer side. Some customers change e-mail addresses to ditch the companies they no longer want to hear from. All the more reason for you to have a simple unsubscribe process as any good marketer would recommend.