On the Road with the OMS Tour: Another Reason Permission is Irrelevant

Greetings from the Online Marketing Summit Summer Roadshow! (You can register here. Enter the code ReturnPath10 and save $200.) Return Path is in Milwaukee, Northern New Jersey and Chicago this week speaking and meeting hundreds of very smart online marketers. It’s a wonderful event for everyone in online marketing – not just email marketing. The show continues across the country and I encourage you to sign up.

Our presentation is around lifecycle marketing in email – why and how it’s so important to make sure that email is relevant. This is not just because your deliverability depends on it. Although your deliverability DOES depend on it. Want a response? You first have to consistently reach the inbox. That is directly tied to how relevant your subscribers think your messages are. Relevant messages have low complaint scores, the key factor in sender reputation and good deliverability. Irrelevant or too frequent messages have a lot of complaints – subscribers clicking the “this is spam button.”

Relevancy may be a buzz word that is overused, but it’s still THE first and last word in email marketing. Relevancy is key because the bar is higher now than it was even a year ago. We as consumers and business professionals willingly (even happily!) sign up for much more email than we can possibly consume. There is no way that we can spend meaningful time with all of the email programs we are interested in. So while everything is mildly interesting, only those messages with killer subject lines and well timed relevancy actually get a response. Permission is not a free pass. We have to continuously earn the right to our subscribers inbox.

Attendees on the OMS Tour asked, “Why would someone who gives me permission not read the messages or worse, complain by clicking the report spam button?”

It’s because permission is not enough. We’ve blogged about this before, but the fact is, permission is just the beginning. About thirty seconds after someone signs up, they have forgotten that they signed up. And so our marketing messages must be relevant to break through. To do this, we must take advantage of lifecycle marketing.

What is lifecycle email marketing? It’s simply focusing on the fact that it’s not about us as marketers and what we want. It’s about what the subscriber (our customers and prospects) wants.

The first and most important stage is the welcome. New subscribers are not familiar with your email program, so don’t just send them the next message in the queue. This is like having someone walk up to you at an event and join a conversation you are having with another person. You don’t just keep talking and hope they will catch up. You welcome them specifically into the conversation and then pick back up. Kraft, Sephora, Omaha Steaks and Accenture all do a nice job of sending a well constructed and high impact welcome message. Better, think about a complete Engagement Series at the beginning of the relationship to introduce your company, your products and your brand in a way that make sense for new prospects and new customers. (Note: these may be two separate welcome series!)

The second most important lifecycle stage is at the point of business interaction. A purchase, an abandoned shopping cart, browsing on the site, a download, a call to customer service, a return, an upgrade, a contract renewal, a visit to account settings or a preference center … all these are key moments of truth in the marketer-customer relationship. Take advantage of them to send messages that speak to the status of the subscriber at that moment. It’s rare when customers tell us they are in market to buy or respond. And yet email makes it so easy to be responsive, automatically and personally.

I know that setting up these “automated relevancy” campaigns takes time and effort. You need creative, you need data integration, you need strategy, and you need analytics. You need technical and human resources that may not be resident in your email marketing group today. We know as direct marketers and also as email marketers that when we create relevancy and connect with our subscribers in ways that are meaningful to them (not just in broadcast ways that are meaningful to us and our corporate agendas), that we get 10x, 15x or even 30x lift on response. So why not do this as often as you can?!

At OMS, I presented three ways to make the business case for these resources. It’s critical that we not only dream about or even plan for these strategies. We must implement them now in order to protect our base for the channel as well as optimize revenue. Sending more messages isn’t a long-term strategy to improve email marketing revenue. Sending more messages that are more relevant is the only way to grow revenue over the long term.

I’d love to see you at a future OMS Event, so please find a convenient city and sign up today Remember to enter the code ReturnPath10 to save $200. Or, email me and I’ll share the info that I presented at the conference and get your feedback.

Finally, if you are interested in receiving just four custom email messages around creating relevant subscribers experiences, just sign up here.

Look forward to hearing your stories and to seeing you on the road this Summer!

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