Don't Send Another E-mail Until You Read This

Far too often we assume that since customers provide their e-mail addresses to make a purchases, we can continue to market to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Co-Founder & CEO, Alignable
June 13, 2011

Have you ever made a purchase at a store or through a website, only to be bombarded by a stream of e-mails and offers to buy more? Today, it's just too easy to capture a customer's e-mail address and automatically add the person to your marketing database in the hopes that he or she will buy again.

Far too often we assume that since customers provide their e-mail addresses to make a purchases, we can continue to market to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Capture" is the word commonly used to convey this approach to marketing. It's as if we're holding the e-mail address hostage.

In response to a deluge of unsolicited e-mails, many customers opt out of future notifications, block the sender and are less likely to be repeat customers.

We've become accustomed to this tug-of-war when it comes to eliciting customer responses to marketing campaigns. After all, we've been trained to think that a 2 percent response rate is actually good. Can you think of any other realm where a 98 percent failure rate is considered good?

It doesn't have to be this way. You can actually build a good rapport with customers, entice them to want to continue the conversation with you, and inspire them to be repeat customers through effective e-mail campaigns. But first, you must earn the right to connect with your customers in between purchases.

Before you send your next e-mail, take a closer look at the ways customers view their experiences interacting with your business. Is your staff friendly and helpful? Is your website easy to navigate? Have you been explicit in letting customers know that you won't sell their contact information or reach out to them without their permission first?

If your customers haven't had a positive experience with your business and you blindly e-mail them, you're not only going to dissuade them from future purchases, you'll also run the risk of them interrupting your flow of business through negative word-of-mouth.

It comes down to providing a great experience for customers whether they're in your store on your website. Once they've been satisfied with the service you've provided, you want to inspire them to stay in touch.

The simplest, yet least effective way to do this is to ask if they'd like to receive future e-mails or to connect in other ways, such as your Facebook Page. Instead of simply asking for their coveted e-mail address or blindly asking them to Like your Page, display examples of what these items look like and tell them of the benefits insiders get, such as special offers. This way they'll have a clear image of what they'll receive from you in terms of a newsletter or a promotion, for example.

Also, instead of asking if they want to receive your email, entice customers by asking a more specific and targeted question such as, "Do you get our monthly newsletter?  There's a copy of our latest edition here. As you can see, we try to share some of our insights and also provide our readers with special access when new products are released. Would you like to be included?"

By being more specific and touting the customer benefits of hearing from you, you'll be able to attract the customers who are most likely to appreciate and act on your e-mails. You'll also get higher open rates and higher returns on your marketing campaigns.

Remember, the goal isn't to capture the e-mail address. It's to earn the right to continue the conversation.

Co-Founder & CEO, Alignable