Pet Peeves

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving, which means you are probably still catching up after the long weekend and reading through your hundredth (or so) e-mail. As I contemplate what to write, I'm wondering what would grab you in the 20 seconds of attention you'll give me today.

That same dilemma haunts e-mail marketers day in and day out.

Case in point: we recently reviewed a wine loyalty program which has been sending e-mail newsletters in volume for several years. The company's major concern was whether their 2,000+-word review of wines was compelling content for a loyalty program, and what they should do next. Should this be a direct mail piece, they wondered? Were they diminishing the value of the information by putting it in an e-mail?

Another client that caters to children's toys and clothes faced a similar dilemma: should they shift to a combination program with a mailed catalog and direct response e-mail, or could it all work successfully as electronic communications?



If you are like these companies, you have just one shot per month, week or day to reach your customers through e-mail, but your newsletter or marketing e-mail is a book that scrolls three pages. Are you asking the right questions and are you willing to do what you need to do to find the answers?

As I tell my clients, there isn't just one quick fix to this problem. If there were, everyone would be doing it by now. We can't realistically expect to change the subject line, change the design of the newsletter or start personalizing the header and expect to see dramatic returns. This is a business of iteration, of making incremental changes progressively.

I see too many e-mail marketing teams that have forgotten about the value of offline efforts, and the impact and value they can have on your online programs. We tend to get overly biased toward electronic channels because they are easy and cost-effective. But we are still living in a world of paper, and until we stop using pen and paper to teach children in school, we will always be a culture of print communications.

So, with 10 seconds left to engage you, here are five of my program pet peeves:

1. Blind assumptions. Too many programs make blind assumptions with little or no data to support them, which can get you into trouble.

2. Projecting your personal opinion. Too many marketers project themselves as consumers when making marketing decisions. Remember, you are a very biased consumer and in most cases are NOT the ideal customer that you need to cater to. So be careful about projecting too much personal opinion or experience into your decisions on messaging and direct response.

3. No online focus groups. Marketers use focus groups for television advertising, Web site launches and even POS marketing, but so few use them for e-mail to gauge the type of content, type of program or type of response they would gain.

4. Being afraid of change. Too many marketers are afraid of making changes and don't see the value in testing as a long-term investment. Change is good!

5. Not relying on data to make decisions. Data should drive your decision-making. In fact, your primary responsibility as a marketer is to interpret data and turn it into business intelligence you can leverage.

So, next time you look at your program and are struggling with your next step, use these pet peeves to see if you can eliminate potential problems.

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