Thursday, January 23, 2014

One-to-One Marketing Starting to Hit its Stride

Forbes contributor, Lisa Arthur, published an article in September 2011 "The Next Big Thing for Marketing."  She mentions one-to-one marketing (1:1 marketing) had been coined 15 years earlier by marketers to "describe a CRM strategy that emphasized this kind of a highly personalized interaction."

The article highlighted this formula as a means to achieve results:

Intelligent 1:1 Marketing = Mobile Devices + Triggers + Social Media + Point of Sale Data

One brand that successfully engages with me and keeps me coming back for more is Starbucks.  They are one brand that I actually look forward to hearing from - whether it is in my email inbox or text message on my smartphone offering me a promo code for a specialty drink or pastry.  Perhaps I'm just a caffeine addict or I've become too partial to Starbucks.  However, at the end of the day, I find myself interacting with their brand in a variety of ways.  

  • I visit retail stores to order my favorite drink or grab a Bistro box for a snack.  
  • I use my Starbucks app to pay, track my rewards, redeem my rewards and to reload my gold card.  
  • I visit the rewards site to send egift cards to my colleagues and friends (part of the #AJO effort).  
  • I shop at my grocery store and buy packages of whole bean Starbucks coffee and then enter my "Star Code" at the rewards site to get even closer to my next free drink.
My fascination with the Starbucks brand began when I saw former senior executive, Howard Behar, speak about his book "It's Not About the Coffee" - it's about the importance of people over profits.  There are plenty of critics who are not shy about sharing their opinions and beliefs about the brand.  Truth be told, Starbucks tries a lot harder than most to use the formula above to increase their customer lifetime value.  

As a loyal customer, I welcome the targeted approach.  I applaud any brand's effort to make it easy for me to engage and interact with their brand.  I know I'm one of many in their database, but I'm a sucker for the personal touch.  I just wish every other brand would jump on the band wagon too.  The formula is out there - why aren't more brands getting it right?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Declutter your Email Inbox: Is it time to Unsubscribe?

One of my new year resolutions is to take control over my Gmail inbox.  I have multiple email addresses aggregated in this central account to make it more convenient and efficient to manage my emails.  I like the Gmail tabs that automatically sort my email into Primary, Social, and Promotions.  It helps me beeline directly to my Primary emails first.   There are additional filters I can use to further organize emails that I do not need to read right away.  However, I still have hundreds of emails showing up daily.  That is the reason why I decided to start my “unsubscribe” process.  I’m on day 4 and it is not easy.

I’ve encountered many companies who make it a simple one-click process to unsubscribe and others who do not.   I find that curious as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.  [The acronym CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing.]

 The CAN-SPAM Act came to mind recently when I read the headline about Jeffrey Killbride, one of the first spammers to be convicted and sent to prison under this act.  Killbride escaped recently from the minimum security prison in Lompoc, California.  He was on the loose for just over 24 hours.  According to Computerworld, he turned himself in on December 28th. 

Killbride and his partner, James Schaffer, were convicted of two CAN-SPAM violations in 2007.  Killbride received a 72-month sentence and Schaffer 63 months.  In addition they had to pay fines and forfeit the $1.1 million in ill-gotten gains.  Hefty consequences for the former spammers.

According to the FTC website, one of the main requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act includes “honor opt-out requests promptly.” The requirement specifically states honoring the request within 10 business days.  

I’m surprised at how many companies actually take the 10 business days to complete your opt-out request.  Many are major brands, including Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Office Depot and Coach.  If you look at the bottom of the Best Buy emails, you will be blinded by a sea of “legalese” before you find the unsubscribe link.

Some companies actually require you to enter your email address before unsubscribing.  I cringe when that happens.  I have to go back to the email, click on the “to” field to see which email address they had sent it to, and then go back to their form, type it in and then submit.  That’s a tedious process. This happened probably 1 in 10 times during the past 4 days while unsubscribing.

Other companies require you to “manage your preferences” and require you to read instructions to know whether you check or uncheck the select boxes to unsubscribe.  Some companies require you to check the box to unsubscribe, while others require you to uncheck the box to unsubscribe.  This is another hassle that came up frequently during my unsubscribing process.

Luckily, there are many companies that do an excellent job with a simple 1-click process.  A new browser window or tab opens up to reveal that the unsubscribe request has been successful.  I love this feature!  SafeUnsubscribe” is a feature from ConstantConnect that helps you unsubscribe instantly, without sending you a confirmation email that you have been unsubscribed.  

Retail giants Amazon and Target get an A+ for ease of opting out.  This efficiency reminds me why I will continue to be a loyal customer.  I don’t need an email to remind me to shop with these mega brands. I frequently purchase from them without solicitation. I don’t need an ad or promotion code to cause me to impulse buy. I do plenty of that on my own.

I’m including a few screenshots below to show what does and does not enchant customers during the Unsubscribe process.  Perhaps retailers believe if you unsubscribe you won’t purchase from them in the future?  Perhaps that is why they make it tedious to opt-out?  Who knows.  I would suggest that you make note of the difference in the brands that allow simple unsubscribe versus multi-step unsubscribe.  Is it time for you to declutter your inbox?

Amazon Prime - immediately unsubscribes
Target immediately unsubscribes

Amazon Local - immediately unsubscribes

Does Not Enchant:
BestBuy legalese - how long does it take you to find the unsubscribe link?

Office Depot 10 days to opt out

Best Buy takes up to 10 Days to opt out