I had a birthday last week, and it was a great birthday -- with email greetings and Facebook posts galore. I even got a few communications from companies that I do business with. I got a card from my financial planner and my dentist, and coupons for a free dinner from The Keg and a night out at a local casino. All of this made me feel very special and celebrated, while at the same time creating a sense of good will and loyalty to these specific companies.
The experience prompted me to think about which email marketers are doing a good job in this area. Who is reaching out just to say thanks? Who is targeting based on specifics in a profile or preference center? Who is building loyalty, at least with me, through programs outside of a traditional loyalty program?
Here are some of my historical favorites (would love to hear of some of yours):
Amazon: An oldie but a goodie - the Amazoniversary. Years ago, on my one-year anniversary of being a customer of Amazon, I received a special communication wishing me a happy anniversary and thanking me for my business. That was the first communication of that sort that I had ever received - a simple targeted communication triggered by my first purchase date. Even years later, I still use that email as an example of a great loyalty-builder and am still an active Amazon customer today.
Cold Stone Creamery: Doesn't matter how old you are -- ice cream on your birthday is always a treat. My entire family has signed up with our birthdays, so not only do I get a greeting and free ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery on my birthday, but I also receive birthday wishes and treats for my two young girls. This is a fun celebratory interaction with Cold Stone Creamery, and it gets the whole family in for dessert. It's a win-win.
Miller Brewing: Miller used to have a birthday program -- they would send you an email wishing you a happy birthday and offering you a special gift. In this case it wasn't a free beer, but instead a free music download. What a nice interaction with a brand -- something free for just having a birthday. This may not directly drive someone into a bar or a store to have/buy a Miller, but in terms of positive brand experience, my guess is that for most it was highly positive.
Other Highly Targeted Communications
BabyCenter: As I mentioned above, I am the mom of two small girls. Outside of my Amazoniversary example above, by far my favorite email program is that done by Baby Center. For the last six-plus years I've been getting targeted personalized email from BabyCenter regarding the growth and development of my girls. Some might say this is not necessarily an overt loyalty builder, but because of the targeted nature of these emails, BabyCenter has become a trusted source for information. Therefore, when questions arise -- such as, should my two-year-old be speaking yet? Or, when do I start to potty train? - BabyCenter is the first online destination for me. Moms/Dads/email marketers: this is a great program. Go sign up and see for yourself.
Fisher-Price: Another brand that does a good job at targeted messaging based on my children's age is Fisher-Price. I have received information on good toys for a particular age rang. in the past. Again, on the surface this might not seem like a loyalty builder, but I know that this brand understands my needs, so it become a trusted source of information.
In economic times like these, it's key to invest in the customers you have. A simple thank you, miss you, happy birthday, or highly targeted information specific to a user's profile can go a long way to ensuring that when customers do shop or pick a brand to interact with, you are at the top of the list. On the flip side, as a consumer, I highly suggest you all go opt-in for Cold Stone Creamery's email communications and register your birthday. Yum!