Email marketing has gone viral- a complete virus, to customer experience without these essential elements.


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Email marketing or automation has become an important marketing tool adopted and utilised by marketers around the globe. It is a cost effective way of communicating with your customers about your products and services. Marketers believe it should be an engaging tool that offers value to customers. You don’t have to be a marketer to relate with this post, just hold on a bit, as you must have had a similar experience to the one I am about to share. It is something that applies to majority of email users. The story begins…

About two months ago, I was browsing through the World Wide Web, reading through resources that were aimed towards entrepreneurship and the start-up journey. I ran into one, name withheld; a very good online community for start-ups and entrepreneurs. I did register on the site and was promised a $75 dollars worth of credit for Google ad sense. Now this credit was the least of the factors that triggered me to signup- the deciding factor was the energy and experiences that emanated from this site. I had a virus experience with this online community, and that had nothing to do with not receiving the ad sense credit as promised but receiving email marketing campaigns for which I never signed up for. I have had similar experiences on many company websites that end up sending email marketing campaigns and newsletter- after categorically opting out of these sorts, during registration.

With a plethora of marketing email software services like mail chip, marketo, hubSpot, silverpop and exact target, email marketing is going viral or somewhat spreading like wildfire. Despite the viral trend, the below elements are essential to preventing it from becoming a virus to customer experience.

Key elements that would prevent email marketing from becoming a virus to CX

Automatic signup: The ‘signup to our newsletter or email updates’ should be ticked by the customer. Some websites have this automatically ticked and most customers unknowingly carry on registering and are then flooded with email campaigns. Let the customer decide if they want to receive these emails, by ticking themselves.

Market segmentation: One of the email marketing campaigns I do receive and tend to click through, without hesitation, is that of Esprit. Whilst writing this post an automated email just came through and the title read, ‘The mid-season sale starts now/Shop printed T-shirts’- from Esprit Men News. Now the second element is segmentation, as the sender is Esprit men news. They know their customers and completely understand I purchase mostly men clothing. As a customer, this is a first sign that Esprit is an organised firm that knows her customers- hence, segmenting her campaign. The market segment could be along the lines of gender, geography, average spend or fashion style.

Need analysis: It is a complete turn-off to send emails without identifying a need or creating a need based on circumstances. Borrowing a leaf from the email sent by Esprit, they are creating or finding a need for t-shirts- as it is summer. Now I do not necessarily need t-shirts, but creating that need for t-shirts during the summer, makes me as a customer feel that I am not just been bombarded with emails for the sake of it, but there is a need for t-shirts during summer- hence, the email.

Buying behaviour: Understanding the buying behaviour of your customers would help shape the content and frequency of your emails. I do receive emails from Active events, on marathon events- and just received one for an electric run in Manchester. This is due to the fact that I love running and did run a marathon in Manchester last year April. There has to be a positive correlation between the email you send out and the buying behaviour of your customers.
Customizing emails: The email I received from Esprit men news had a rugged and masculinity feel to it. The background colour, selection of t-shirts and model- depicted the rough, tough and strength aspects of the masculine gender. If that was from Esprit women news, I would expect the background to be attractive, colourful and bright. This could also go along the lines of geography and the nature of goods- either luxury or non-luxury.

Value proposition: Is there a value been created and offered to the customer? What value exists if they are to open your email as opposed to opening one from their football fan page? You’ve got to offer something valuable – a discount, unique product, new information or rare opportunity. Esprit understands I love to utilize their 20% discount code at all items, so I get this on the title of most emails from their marketing team. You have to offer a value to the customer- else, the mail would be deleted unread.

Email title: This has to be catchy, short and presented as a question as recommended by Stu Cooks, on the develevation blog. Which are you likely to open, ‘20% discount of all items and free shipping’ as against ‘New summer styles have just arrived’? I guess the first one. There has to be a catchy and suspense-laden title to increase the chances of a follow-through.

Easy to use unsubscribe option: Every email has to have an unsubscribe option and this should be very easy to complete. I have had horrible experiences with some unsubscribe options, that requires you to login to your account and then answer some few questions before unsubscribing. It should be as easy, as clicking the unsubscribe section at the bottom of the email and straight to a confirmation message on the company’s website along the lines of, ‘we are sorry to see you unsubscribe, please do free to sign-up at anytime.’

Too many emails: Too many emails are like spam and acts as a virus to customer experience. Emails should be sent during launch of new products, sale, change of terms and conditions and opening of a new location. One email every other month is just okay.

Visually Appealing: These emails have to be visually appealing- with the use of more pictures and less words. It should look more like a magazine than a newspaper. People are more likely to click through a graphically optimized email- aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and inspiringly imaginative to the mind.

Suffice it then to say that, the benefits and effectiveness of email marketing cannot be overemphasized. The challenge to the viral trend of email marketing is the lack of structure and poor implementation by some firms- which has seen it become a virus to customer experience in some occasions.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


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