The following is a guest blog post by Darren Lancaster, Co-Founder & President of GroupVine, who utilizes Rapleaf data to help transform today's most ubiquitous, simple, and comfortable communication medium - email - from a static to an interactive environment. Follow him: @thecommunityguy
In a recent post commenting on the 2011 Personalization Summit (hosted by Rapleaf and Microsoft last month), Gene Bellotti, VP of Marketing at Client Types, says, “You need to ask the consumer what is the process they go through when they buy items and how they would like to be treated.” Personalization is critical to creating the high-value, one-on-one relationship with your customer and “getting inside their head”. I agree. We need to stop treating our customers like an archaeological dig, relying solely on data collection and artifacts to analyze, piece together and hypothesize about what’s in the customer’s head. Instead, why don’t we just ask?
Which brings me to email and continuing a conversation started on our “Personalization and Innovation” panel from the Summit. As email marketers, we’re generally not using email as a medium that feels personal and therefore not using email it to its fullest, social potential. Hopefully you’re already gaining personal insights and aggressively profiling your customers to immediately increase the relevancy of your email marketing. Leveraging services such as Rapleaf are a great way to ensure a recipient’s first email marketing experience with your brand will be on-target. You need data to first capture relevancy and hook the attention of your audience in an engaging and relevant way to establish that initial interest. But then what? Stopping there leaves a lot of the upside via increased personalization on the table.
Ideally we’d identify a customers “sweet spot” as quickly as possible. Identifying a person’s sweet spot is daunting because it’s not static, and it’s very specific to your brand or organization. Why I may love your brand, product, or service depends on my lifestyle and circumstances RIGHT NOW, not necessarily a profile of me as a person.
So how do we get in touch with that sweet spot? Well, as Gene proposed, let’s try asking the customer! It’s faster, cheaper, immediate, personal, and doesn’t lead to useless information that’s aging out quickly. Furthermore, if you have already personalized interactions and caught their attention using data relevancy, the customer is already more satisfied with your messaging then they would have been from just sending a large generic email blast and therefore more willingly to answer additional questions to enhance personalization and make their interaction with your brand more relevant and enjoyable.
Until now, Email Marketing has been a one-way experience…brands and organizations talking at their customers, and their customers reading and reacting in virtual isolation. But a recent twist on traditional email, called Interactive Email, enables customers to have a personalized, engaging, and social experience through email, just from asking the customer. Email can now deliver timely, relevant content and opportunities while enabling customers to see what “others” are saying, share their own ideas, and create social influence. To get there, it's crucial to establish that initial first impression with a message relevant to the appropriate audience. Going forward, recipients will willingly talk about how they think about your product, how they use your product, how it fits into their lifestyle, what they think about when they’re making a purchase. Each customer’s voice becomes part of the communication -- which is about as personal as it gets.
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