Is There Such a Thing as Over-Integration for Your Email Program?

Wednesday was my birthday, and I spent the day on the road traveling for business. When I finally reached my destination, I was determined to celebrate my birthday. Thankfully, I like the folks I am traveling with, so we opted to go to a local bar for a beer and bite to eat. It was late, and I was hungry. We decided that the first "interesting" thing to jump off the menu was going to be dinner. And so it was that this crazy-ass burger found its way to my table.

At MediaPost's Email Insider Summit in Park City, I heard stories of this burger but have never seen it elsewhere, until now. This thing consists of a half pound of greasy burger, topped with nothing short of a mound of caramelized onions – wedged between two grilled cheese sandwiches. While this sounded lovely in theory, the reality was a bit disappointing (and maybe slightly painful). And in true "me" fashion, I have found a way to liken this to the email channel...chewing on the question, "is it possible to over-integrate other marketing channels with email?"



Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

Email is a versatile channel that sits at the core of most digital marketing programs. Let's face it; even Twitter just launched an email program. But integrating solely for the purpose of saying you did it, doesn't make it right. As you look at the unique value proposition of each of the channels you leverage, you should be asking yourself the strategic question of where these channels complement one another (if they do at all) and then find logical ways to leverage them to enhance the customer experience. Too often we get caught up in the ability to "say" we did something versus setting out with the goal to accomplish something measurable and meaningful.

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me; Fool Me Twice, Shame on You

There is nothing wrong with trying something new; however, if that initial experience doesn't meet expectations, you may never do it again. Much like my burger.... I am in no hurry to get another one, ever. It is important to truly think through the entire experience for your customer and how they will interpret the overall engagement across channels. If the initial experience for the customer is disjointed, they may see your program as novel versus valuable. Of course, as we all work to determine how best to integrate channels (and tell a cohesive story across the digital media), you can course-correct, but it needs to be thoughtful. Otherwise, if the customer does give you that second chance, you might just blow it.

It's Not About What You Said, It's Not About What You Did, It's How You Made Me Feel

As you look towards channel integration, it is important to keep the "warm and fuzzy" in mind. Customers likely have some sort of emotional response to your brand, your marketing, your overall message – and you want that to be as positive as possible. Consumers' emotional connection with different channels can vary. Their expectations of email versus social versus display ad marketing are not likely the same, so consider each potential connection as you make your integration plans. While leveraging display ad re-targeting driven by email engagement can create a succinct experience for the customer after they leave your email, it could also be interpreted as a bit "big brother." You don't want the customer to feel like you are following them around the web – but you do want to make a lasting and positive impression.

While I don't regret the burger.... I certainly won't do that again. As you sit around a conference table pontificating the various integration points with your email program, remember my burger...and ask yourself, "Will I regret this in the morning?"

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