Breathing Life Into Email Lifecycle Messaging

Ready for yet another article on being relevant? Relevance is relevant after all -- right? For more than 10 years now, we have been talking (as an industry) about achieving relevance in our email programs and  really driving true lifecycle messaging, but we remain stuck in neutral.

The idea of completely automating your email communication stream isn't realistic (nor do I know many that would be comfortable with it), but there are certainly parts of the program that are repeatable and (dare I say it) relevant at a moment in time for a customer. Some may be obvious moments like post-purchase, when a cart is abandoned, or at the point of disengagement. But others may be more specific to your business -- and therefore resonate more clearly with the subscriber.  You know your customer and their lifecycle better than us "experts," but we know the email space. I thought it would be fun to share some ideas on where email function meets lifecycle knowledge and what can transpire. As always, I encourage you to comment and share some of the innovative and, um, relevant things you've seen.

How about that middle seat? If you are in the airline industry, or have ever been on a plane, you'll get this. No one likes to sit in the middle seat on an airplane. It's one of the most avoided spots (along with the seats that don't recline). So one airline recognized this fact and decided to give its  loyalty program customers a little surprise gift for being such a good sport, sucking it up and sitting in the middle seat.  Within a three-month time frame of the middle seat "incident," when those travelers booked their next flight, a message was triggered with a free one cabin class upgrade as a thank-you -- with a guarantee of a window or aisle seat.

Could you be more loyal? If your brand manages a loyalty program, then the answer you'd like from your participants is a resounding YOU BET! But many programs just communicate status achievement annually. There are some, however, that do a wonderful job of notifying the member of nearly achieved status: "Steve, you only need 500 more points to reach Gold level." Include detail of what benefits will be realized upon achievement (why they should care) -- and how about a partner offer or two that is relevant to Steve's profile and will help him get those 500 points? You can even trigger vouchers and other online benefits this way as part of the lifecycle communication stream.

What season is it? Seasonality is a factor that drives many businesses regardless of vertical. For example, you are probably not going to sell snow shovels in Chicago in July or swimsuits in December (unless you like polar-bearing). So if there is an anticipated seasonal communication stream, why not build out the lifecycle? Take office supplies and back-to-school time. You could trigger a series of email communications to your subscriber base with an early look at the cool supplies for students this year, including links to local school lists of supply requirements --  and take recipients down a corresponding communication stream depending on what they did/did not purchase. When the time frame is anticipated, plan for it accordingly and let the lifecycle drive the messaging. 

The reality is that life, real life, drives our brand engagements, product needs, and purchases. If we can incorporate what we know about those real-life occurrences (like getting stuck in the middle seat or needing school supplies for your kids) we can make the messages and content more... yes, relevant.

And for those keeping score, if this was a real-life drinking game , and you all had to drink every time I said "relevant," you'd be seven shots deep!

Tags: email
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