AMELIA ISLAND, FL --Amazon’s global email director Donald Parsons told an audience Thursday that email marketers would be wise to remember that no matter how many millions of messages are sent, the most effective ones are personal.
“Email is a conversation,” he said in a keynote address at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit. “It's a little bit of a trope I think these days, but it’s important to keep that in mind. It’s really two individuals talking.”
So, what makes for compelling conversation? From a marketer’s standpoint, history and context are the propellers.
Track what topics were used in emails past, indicate some appreciation for them, express an understanding of a particular consumer’s tastes and preferences, etc.
Then, with context: don't stray from interest areas. “My friends and I can spend a long time talking about how wonderful the Boston Red Sox are,” Parsons said by way of example. “But it’s a very short conversation when it gets to the New York Yankees and that’s a context that’s important when you come and talk to me later about baseball.”
Of course, history and context have data at the core, and Amazon has built a massive business by harvesting and deploying it. “Every interaction is a moment of learning and you need to grab hold of that, and you need to hold as much of that as you can,” Parsons told the audience.
The former Citibank executive said that customers can have a degree of tolerance for emails that move into new territory if the context is on target. He cites Amazon’s long-held practice of not only sending emails recommending books by the same author, but other similar ones.
"It's consistent with the conversation -- it has context, it has history," he said. "Even though it's more than might be expected, customers actually respond to it extremely well."