Our e-mail addresses are our personas. In today's technological world everyone is plugged in and evolving into a multi-persona e-mail user (even my mother has three e-mail accounts). In today's world that is propelled by technology; your experience level with the Web correlates directly with how many e-mail accounts you have. The average consumer has 2.7 e-mail addresses. In my Ad:Tech session last week, I asked the question and found that over half of the people had three addresses or more and one person even had nine different e-mail accounts. This means that marketers today are faced with the challenge of not only effectively targeting their customers but also with developing a dialog that takes into account their customers' e-mail personas based on behaviors. In a world running on these brief encounters, how do you crack the code of human behavior?
Understanding customers is becoming increasingly complex. One size does NOT fit all. So the challenge isn't deliverability, authentication services, technology, or mass customization. Understanding customers requires a multi-dimensional perspective, an aggressive use of profiling and most importantly, a true understanding of behaviors and preferences.
To illustrate this point, think about your e-mail personas and how you use each e-mail address. You probably have a corporate e-mail address for business communication, real-time response, and business articles and publications. Then, maybe an AOL or Gmail address that you use for (long-term) e-mail correspondence. If you're like me, you might also have additional Hotmail or Yahoo! addresses (I have five more - so that's seven total), for loyalty communications, order confirmations and affiliation communications, and research listings.
Let's say you were marketing to me through e-mail, you would never know about all my accounts and my persona for each. But knowing that I have a standard behavior for each account, how would you evolve your program to maximize your relationship with me? More importantly, how could your program adapt so you interact differently with customers that only have two e-mails versus those who have nine?
To understand the human behavior around e-mail personas so you can reach your customers, ask yourself a few key questions:
" What is their likelihood to transact through an e-mail channel? How often do they answer or conduct transactions through e-mails - every day, once a week or infrequently, if at all?
" At what level are they engaged with e-mail in each discrete environment? For example, work is more involved, whereas they may not tolerate marketing information outside of work.
" Are they different consumers in different environments?
" How much can I invest in managing these personas?
" What is the value in response? If the audience response is low, is it worthwhile to seek a secondary e-mail address?
general, major ISPs are not open to sharing the behavioral data on their consumers, so you won't have research reports on the behavioral propensities of the different ISPs. But that shouldn't stop you
from learning from your own database. Identifying patterns that will help you predict behavior and developing ideas that will help you modify your e-mail programs will help you market more effectively
and maximize your relationships with your customers. After asking yourself the questions above, follow these simple steps to better understand your customers' behavior:
" At registration, ask for more than one e-mail address. (Ask specifically for work or home and indicate that it's for back-up purposes.)
" Ask a qualifying question in your registration or enrollment form. For example, instead of asking, "Do you prefer receiving e-mail at work of home?" ask "How many personal e-mail addresses do you have?"
" Use surveys to build supporting information for e-mail profiles. For example, conduct a small survey in your next e-mail communication that asks, "Where do you receive this e-mail address?" or "How many e-mails do you normally receive in an average day at home?" or even, "At what time do you open your personal e-mail?"
" Utilize online polls. They are a great way to get attitudinal information that can help you draw some conclusions to their preferences.
" Instead of providing incentives for inclusion into promotions or sweeps, consider providing incentives for new information or updated profiles.
" Develop a Preference Management Center.
" Validate your conclusions and build on your customers' profiles with the highest values if there is a finite business return.
The world of technology and e-mail is changing. We all have different personas developed over years of consumer behavior and different loyalties to different e-mail accounts. Your job as relationship managers is to get to the heart of that behavior and blend your program to these trends and expectations.