Three Ways to Start a Conversation

When was the last time you asked your subscriber base to share their thoughts? Three months ago? Six months ago? 12 months ago? Never? (Say it isn't so.) Staying current with your audience keeps you grounded in reality. It helps you know what's really going on, not just what you "think" is going on.

In our status-update-obsessed culture, people want to have their opinions heard and valued. By being a good listener, you plant the seeds of loyalty. As you take a look at your plans for 2010, you might want to add in one (or all three) of the strategies below to help get the conversation started.

1) Survey Says. 2009 resolutions are history, but 2010 resolutions are just getting started. So, how will you do things differently this year? Better yet, how do your subscribers want you to do things differently? There's no way to know for certain unless you ask. With your customers fresh off their holiday shopping sprees, now is the perfect time to tap into their online and in-store shopping experiences. To encourage participation, consider throwing in an incentive for taking a survey, as Moosejaw did. Another idea would be to tap into your Facebook fanbase and Twitter followers. Simply post a link to your hosted version of the survey email

2) Product Reviews. More and more consumers are turning to product reviews to help them make their purchasing decisions. Why not make a 2010 resolution to show your site's product reviews some love. Zappos and Sephora get fancy by dynamically populating their review requests with photos of recently purchased products. An even fancier bonus would be the ability to post my recent product review and product shot to my Facebook page! To launch their product review push, Lululemon introduced a "we heart feedback" campaign in the middle of December. While we could debate the timing of the messaging, the branding of it is really inspiring.

(Sidebar: Adding a little copy like "Purchase this item for someone else? Forward this email so we can get their feedback." is a great solve for when the product review email goes to the purchaser vs. the gift recipient.)

3) Preferences Please. As we move more towards personalizing content and creating meaningful social experiences, we're going to have to put our preference centers and profile modules to work. Take Sephora, for example. I've heard from many sources that they truly use their preference center to help customize emails for subscribers. After receiving this Beaut y Insider Update email, I now realize why I get the generic versions" I never filled out my beauty profile! I'll be excited to see how my email experience changes now that I've given them all kinds of details to work with. Taking the update request a step further, Piperlime includes a preference center message in each and every email. Now that's dedication.

2 comments about "Three Ways to Start a Conversation ".
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  1. Chad White from Litmus, January 12, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.

    I really like the idea about asking purchasers to forward product review requests to gift recipients. I'm not sure how many would do it, but gift buyers certainly can't review the product so at least it's an attempt to be more relevant.

  2. Neil Capel from Sailthru, January 13, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

    Totally agree, its amazing how many people still write _specifically_ generic emails to entice their entire audience.

    An email needs to be targeted and not just on the user's preferences they provide, but on their ACTUAL interests. Using user provided keywords is 1.0 style.

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