Who's In Your Fab 5 Inbox?
I'm a multi-personality email persona -- I have so many email addresses that I manage them in completely separate ways. I thought this week it would be fun to take a look at my inbox from one of my oldest email accounts and pick my Fab 5. This account celebrates its 17-year anniversary this year. In this inbox live an amazing track record of opt-ins and permissions that are in many cases outdated. I still get email from marketers that include my address from my very first home in Texas (over 15 years ago). Clue to marketers: Don't use personalization if you can't action on it appropriately.
To keep this in context, I used this email account for virtually all my loyalty programs, with many legacy promotions/sweeps, and it's grown with me over the year to the point that I receive over 500 "non-junkmail filtered" email per week. I have 965-plus messages in there at present. But there are a few in my Fab 5 that I scan and look for consistently. Here's my Fab 5: (and do remember I'm that Gen-X, college grad, affluent, father of two, homeowner, luxury car driver, eBay = yes, Internet-savvy, married = yes, gender = male)
1. Hobbies: NCGA (Northern California Golf Association). While this may not be the sexiest email, it's highly relevant, sent at appropriate times and has high notification value to me personally. In its emails, this group offers handicap updates, member news releases, tournament information -- overall, using email appropriately in a non-intrusive manner. While I won't waste another of my Fab 5s on any other golf institutions, if there are any notices from my favorite golf courses close to this email, based on sheer proximity of the message, I will open it. Net is, the group has built many reason to get back to its Web site, which is the primary goal -- all building loyalty points with this avid golfer.
2. Travel: American Airlines. While I'm a loyal 900K-mile Platinum member of American, I'm not as loyal to its email program, but I do scan for its emails. While I feel important getting email from American "daily," this pattern is beginning to enter the realm of fatigue by further commercializing messages with a flood of partner promotions and gimmicky reasons to open the email. American has the right customer, the right ideas; it just needs to tighten up its approach to really be a winner. But compared to United, Delta, Alaskan Air and Southwest Airlines, American is the leader in the airline category for me.
3. Shopping: Omaha Steaks. "$0.00 Shipping" got my attention this week. While I love the thought of buying prepackaged steaks and having them arrive on my porch, email is the only way I buy these items. Omaha's emails are topical, with package deals that appeal to a novice tailgater griller like me. The timing is a bit off and the design a little cheesy, but when you're shopping for a steak or package of hamburgers, it doesn't have to be perfectly designed for scanning; it's only a notification for me, as I make my decisions on the Web site. Honorable mention in this category goes to Barnes &Noble for the free Starbucks coupons.
4. Interests: Wines.com. While I don't find these emails relevant -- they don't use data from my past purchases to drive recommendations -- when I'm in the mood, I do find them valuable in an educational way, and sometime for gifting. If wine was simply a casual interest for me, these mails wouldn't get share of voice in my bulging inbox.
5. Business and Networks: Facebook and LinkedIn. By far the most relevant to my inbox, these emails are all notification-based, but do the trick. The core values of this type of messaging are intrinsic to their products and don't need to be much more than that. But I fear, these will ultimately evolve to the eBay email overload everyone's experienced being a member of that community. When is it so much that you just gloss over the email without opening it?
There is a common theme in building loyalty to the inbox. Don't try to overdo it! Email has a finite value in your business portfolio -- find it, honor it and try your best to optimize to your highest value customers.