Making Commitments

In our panel "A Call to Action" this morning with Jack Hogan of LifeScript and Brad Bacon of Weather Channel Interactive, we asked attendees here at the Summit to commit with us, as an industry and as individual practitioners to a number of best practices.

The first and perhaps the hardest is to commit to taking the long view. We are all under pressure to deliver short term results, while balancing the need for long term best practices around subscriber experience. Jack gave a few examples of hard decisions that he’s had to make to preserve the subscriber experience and increase the lifetime value of each subscriber. One is to add a “Hassle Free Unsubscribe” button to the top of every email message. It seems counter intuitive to encourage an unsubscribe, but better to have those folks off the file than complaining to the ISPs by clicking the Report Spam button. Another is to highlight the high number of messages each subscriber receives each week in the confirmation/welcome message and preference center. When you send 14-21 messages a week on average for each subscriber, it seems scary to call that out â€" the risk is that subscribers will freak out or immediately unsubscribe without experiencing the content. But Jack takes the long view â€" and being clear about the frequency helps ensure that subscribers welcome the messages.

One that we struggled over is commitment #4, where we ask marketers to commit to making at least 30% of their messages lifecycle based. This doesn’t get us totally away from batch & blast, but it does move all of us further down the road toward true inbox relevancy. The fact that this is a challenge at 30% and not 90% is perhaps a failure of our industry â€" not enough time, resources or automated technology to make it happen. Brad has a double opt in program and sends nearly all lifecycle-based messages, as each is custom to the weather and your location. However, Weather Channel does send marketing messages that are generic and promotional, and not surprisingly these messages earn lower response. Ways that marketers can fulfill this commitment is to offer choices both at sign up and in a preference center, to add customized content, offer series content that allows interested subscribers to receive deeper information, and sending occasional thank-you notes or other “just because” messages.

We’ve collected a dozen or so commitments, and plan to remind each of these marketers in 60 days of their promise. We’ll be sure to share back the results with the Mediapost audience. Email me (or comment here) if you want a list of the commitments.

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