In the airline world half the variables are simply out of the carrier’s control so reputation is really more about how they handle something than avoiding it but flying around we all know the sad reality: just about no one is doing it right. For me this hits home most with United. The airline I put my time on, built up with, and yet wait weeks to hear back from via email… social channels? There’s hardly a single response from their accounts, let alone one directed to something I’ve asked. Continue reading
For the past 5 years I’ve tracked holiday season emails to see the changing trends, volumes, and types offers being used.
As email has become more competitive and customers have taken to a variety of communication paths, most notably social in 2011, sends have become much more individualized with companies in the same category and channel sending very different offer types and frequencies.
Looking at the overall trend, it appears volume is up, likely as companies continue to strengthen their digital competency as well as the size of their offers.
The Volume Counts:
- Brookstone – 114
- Restoration Hardware – 55
- Bath & Body Works – 54
- Macys – 42 [includes sub brands, i.e. rewards]
- Harry & David – 41
- Victoria’s Secret – 42
- Zales – 42
- Ice.com – 39
- CircuitCity.com – 38
- Eddie Bauer – 37
- NewEgg – 34
- Pottery Barn – 32
- NFL Shop – 31
- Sports Chalet – 28
- Best Buy – 29
- Costco – 27
- Target.com – 24
- Bed, Bath & Beyond – 23
- HP – 22
- BananaRepublic – 21
- Dockers – 21
- The North Face – 18
- Zappos – 15
- See’s Candy – 15
- SiriusXM Radio – 12
- StarbucksStore.com – 11
- Quicksilver – 7
- The Art of Shaving – 7
- Mophie – 6
The misses & future opportunities:
1. Many companies repeated messages, offers and creative. While emails do go missed, trends become notable and as shoppers key in, response is reduced. By diversifying messaging points, even with the same baseline offer, activity increases to see what “different”.
Restoration Hardware is just one example having sent 4 identical titled emails in 1 day.
2. Significant oversending continues to be a wide-spread problem with Brookstone setting the bar at 114 emails in around 90 days. While more volume can drive short term sales, finding a balance helps insure list quality and continued usage throughout the season and minimum opt-out requests.
3. Only a few companies addressed mobile viewing. With the huge spike in mobile this year, the implications of being accessible are significant — increased awareness and offer usage for retail and being a direct alternative for etailers.
Harry & David and Best Buy offered a mobile links on messages improving their shot at converting shoppers on the go.
4. Almost no companies leveraged social to validate messages. By including user generated content such as user reviews, comments from other shoppers, or more abstract programs like gift tips, social can help email become more authentic and lessen the spammy nature of offer only messages.
Samsung keyed in to both reviews and Facebook chatter in one of their email sends.
Note about the data: I track emails starting in September that mention holidays through to new years. Messages are sent to a dedicated account and regularly opened to fire tracking tags but are not acted on [no purchases] to avoid segmentation changes and of course some messages do get lost in the mix, this is not scientific.
I’m on a lot of email lists, dozens, probably more and years and years I’ve collected emails from the internet 100 down to niche boutiques and specialized services, everyone you can think of and a few that surprise even me. From competition to best practices and trends, it’s a great way to see what’s going on in the industry but not surprisingly I don’t “act” on these messages very often. Still, in 5 years of collecting and tens of thousands of emails no one has ever asked me why.
Why. It’s a simple question with vast implications.
A guy starts receiving emails from Victoria’s Secret after placing a gift order – without the details what will those messages say? Are they going to assume he is a direct customer? Why tells the marketing team that instead of multiple-emails a week with personal offers, the message can shift to less frequent suggestions, gift ideas, even useful content that makes the brand useful to him to follow. And the results? Well, I don’t know about you but I don’t know many men buying products for themselves from Victoria’s Secret.
Every day Living Social plays on my Pandora stream, inviting me to become a customer… millions of dollars in ad budgets to reach people with a sign up message who are already signed up. I can close their popups but that’s the extent of the feedback… With a simple question, they could appeal to current customers with value, contextual relevancy, something that doesn’t just make them top of mind but invites consideration. And for the price of one answer, I’d get the benefit of not hearing the same boring ad day in and day out.
Why is the hardest question but digital gives us a medium to answer it every day.
Social has created a frenzy for businesses as well all vye for the customer’s attention pounding them about new products, offers and a host of other campaigns we want to see go “viral” but that’s not where it ends. Customers are ready to spill their guts… not in drawn out forms or lengthy processes but through dialogue.
Not just surveys or expensive focus groups, we can go out with messages to customers in an individualized basis and not only to ask them questions but even to show them that we are asking. And they expect it.
From optimized campaigns to operational learnings, there’s a heck of a lot of value in knowing why.