Recognizing Your Biggest Fans

In late January, the men’s U.S. national soccer team played a friendly match in San Diego against Serbia. As a Serbian family hailing out of Chicago, we jumped at the chance to go see the first-ever meeting of these teams since the erosion of Yugoslavia (and it didn’t hurt that we got to go to San Diego in January).

Even if you're not a big soccer follower, it may not surprise you to know that the U.S. men’s team is fighting an uphill battle. Adoption of soccer isn’t wide in the U.S. (not nearly as fanatical as in other countries), there's been a recent change in coaching, and some of the more talented players are being courted by other countries. So when you have a chance to gather 20,000 fans all in one place -- recognize that these are likely your biggest fans and pay them some attention.

We paid good money for seats right on the sideline, with about 100 other people. And for us, it was a win/win. We were excited to see both teams play, and fully expected to see the U.S. team win. We were just hoping for a few goals and a good game.



The U.S. team was warming up spitting distance from us, and the kids were so excited to be so close. A few of the players said they would come over after the match to sign autographs. The kids watched the scoreless game…in the hot sun… for 90 minutes. And when the match was over, the U.S. team sulked back to the locker room, while the Serbian men’s team came over to greet fans and sign autographs.

What a missed opportunity for the U.S. team to build goodwill with its fan base.

Your email subscribers are those fans: the ones that are engaged, even if you are at peak performance and aren’t always sending the most relevant content.

Now, you will get the occasional subscriber who is there just for the discounts, but the customers who remain involved and engaged with your email program are your true fans, and you should treat them as such. Here are a few ways to do so:

Acknowledge they are not like everyone else subscribed to your program. Just as we spent a little more to sit in the action, your true fans tend to spend more with your brand, but this isn’t a given. You still need to try and give them a reason not to blend into the background with the rest of the folks in the stands. Provide them with exclusive offers or sneak peeks that only the select few are privileged enough to receive. Otherwise, you may find the sidelines empty.

Keep your word.  Clearly it's best to keep your commitments to all your customers, but especially those most loyal to the brand. While they will tolerate the occasional irrelevant communication, or may continue to engage even after you started sending more email than promised, this grace period will only last so long. Don’t take advantage of these folks. If you say you are going to coming back to sign an autograph, you should come back.

Celebrate their moments. Too often brands want to make messaging about them: the brand. But today’s consumer is less concerned with what it is you want to say and more about what they want to hear. Celebrating their moments and accomplishments makes for a deeper and more committed relationship. Find those unique opportunities where you can celebrate your subscribers and make them feel special. Did they just open their 300th message from you, or click for the 1,000th time? There is always a reason to celebrate -- even if YOU finish the game 0-0.

Finding your biggest fans isn’t that difficult. They have literally raised their hands and opted in for your email program. All you have to do is recognize them.

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