I bet we’ve all been there. An incoming email triggers a strong response and we let those strong emotions turn into something we regret sending later. It’s not a bug – it’s a feature, one we need to learn to turn off since inevitably we spend a lot more time cleaning up the mess then we would have spent had we just taken 10 minutes to calm down, reread the initial email, and respond with a clear head.
I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those. A client who owed me a lot of money reacted badly when I asked to be paid. Having waited nearly two years, I thought I was not over the foul line for asking. In fact, I offered to reduce the amount owed if they would begin paying immediately. Rather than engaging in a discussion about how we could resolve the issue, I received a nastygram unlike any other I’d received in business. My response wasn’t to respond. Instead, I did something I’d not done in 10 years of consulting: I turned the debt over to a collection agency.
That’s one personal example. I’m sure you have a couple, hopefully on the receiving end so you don’t have to clean up the mess. We can’t “react” to emails. The blessing of email is that it’s fast, with immediate delivery and often a quick response. That’s its curse as well, along with the fact that there is no nuance. My philosophy has always been that if there is a problem I’d rather try to resolve it over the phone so I can judge the tone of voice as well as to be sure that what I’m saying isn’t misinterpreted somehow. I realize it’s harder to get many people on the phone but the investment of time in doing so can often avoid a series of increasingly infuriating emails.
Don’t “react.” Don’t assume that someone hasn’t responded because they’re disrespecting you. They might just not be the bearer of good news and are struggling to find a way to say what needs to be said. Remember that everything you send is preserved and you have no clue who will end up reading what you write. Finally, call if you can or, even better, buy someone coffee and talk things over face to face. Old school? For sure, but maybe some of these old school ways are why some of us old folks have done well. Your thoughts?
Imagine you’ve purchased a brand new Ferrari 488GTB. You are now the proud owner of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which is in a vehicle said to be capable of 205 mph. I don’t know about you but I would for damn sure want to find a place where I could get it out of second gear and let the machine perform to its abilities. It would be a waste to leave it in second gear all the time.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I thought about that as I read about the Relevancy Group’s 2015 version of the email service provider study. What struck me was how many of those companies that rely on email marketing are underutilizing the wealth of data they have. Instead they relied on less advanced customer data attributes to segment audiences for email marketing campaigns. As the eMarketer summary stated:
General demographic and geographic data were the most common metrics used for segmentation, and the only ones used by more than 35% of respondents. Meanwhile, other easily measured data points such as email clicks and open rates were used less frequently—especially the latter—and most marketers were unable to leverage metrics beyond the email realm such as past purchases and spending habits.
How very 2001, although I’m not surprised. The sad reality is that many companies have no plan, no system, no KPI’s, and no ability to mine and utilize the bulk of the data they already have. Just over a quarter of marketers have some sort of ability to create a single customer view across channels. I suspect those of you who aren’t marketers have some of the same issues. Data can live in silos or be fragmented across reporting lines. A big problem which gets bigger every day.
How can we get the rest of the email marketing world out of second gear? Part of it is understanding. It’s nice that many of the marketers surveyed planned to focus more on segmentation and targeting, ranking it the top email marketing priority for 2015. But unless there is a better understanding of what’s being collected and a commitment to a single repository from which all stakeholders can draw, I don’t see them reaching top speed in their marketing. You?
There is an expression used in sports that coaches sometimes employ when they’re trying to fire up their team. They talk about “imposing our will” on the other side. It’s a catchphrase that hints at a physical beating – being faster and stronger – as opposed to being smarter. It’s often a good thing to impose one’s will when it refers to mental toughness and not so good when it refers to taking advantage of someone who is incapable of fighting back.
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I got to thinking about this while I was reading a study on, of all things, email. Hopefully if you’re a regular here on the screed you’re used to these little jumps in logic, but let me explain what prompted the thought. The study came out a few weeks ago from the folks at Yesmail Interactive. It is all about the way marketers send email and how recipients interact with it. There’s a bit of a disconnect:
The report reveals that marketers have failed to account for the shift to mobile by not optimizing emails read on a mobile device. While 49 percent of all email opens happen on a mobile device, the click-to-open rate (how many consumers clicked after opening an email) is significantly lower for mobile. Twice as many people click on an email after opening it on a desktop (23 percent) than a mobile device (11 percent)…The study finds that 61 percent of consumers now read at least some of their emails on a mobile device, with 30 percent reading email exclusively on mobile devices.
In other words, the differences in those click-through rates show that mail not optimally formatted for the device gets tossed, and with it, your opportunity for engagement or a sale. That’s what prompted my thought. Our job as marketers isn’t to impose our will, it’s to satisfy the desires of our customers. Sending out mail and demanding that the reader struggle through a communication that is better read on a different device is dumb. Wondering why the email channel isn’t performing is dumber. We need to spend the time and resources to bend to the customer’s will – a desire to read on a mobile device in this case – and not demand that they change their habits.
We can’t impose our will on our customers. It’s quite the opposite. Make sense?
Ah, technology! The faster we chase it, the faster it moves away. Very few businesses can move fast enough to keep up with how technology changes consumer behavior, and the 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report from the good folks at Marketing Sherpa shows us yet another example of that.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The shift to mobile from the desktop has been causing all sorts of disruption. According to an Econsultancy report, fewer than half of businesses (41%) are able to accurately measure the behavioral differences between mobile and desktop visitors. In fact, almost a fifth (18%) report that they have no clue (OK, that wasn’t exactly how they answered but you get that they’re operating in the dark).
There is an interesting correlation between that report and the aforementioned Marketing Sherpa email report. As reported by the eMarketer folks:
Just 42% said they were fully designing emails to render differently on mobile devices, despite the fact that many consumers rely heavily on tablets and smartphones for email access.
Hmm. I wonder if these are the same 41% as are able to measure how mobile makes things different? Coincidence? More importantly, why is mobile lagging behind? Three-quarters said their web and email efforts were integrated; more than half had integrated social and email; and 35% have even coordinated email and blogging. I think I know: time.
The commercial web is going on 20 years old and web-based activities such as social and blogging take place in that now ancient environment Mobile is the shiny new object and businesses don’t like to invest in those sorts of things until they know they’re mainstream. Of course, by that time there’s another new thing – I wonder how businesses are preparing to integrate with wearable tech?
My advice to clients is this: investing in and supporting the shiny new objects as they become mainstream means you’ll be late to the dance. It takes time and resources (neither of which anyone seems to have) to get up to speed in these new spaces and starting when they’re just starting to be buzzed about means you’ll be ready when you need to be. Sticking your head in the sand (what are the 18% thinking?) and hoping they’ll go away only increases the chances that your business will be the one vanishing.
Now, let’s get back to the race.
Image via Wikipedia
One would think that as media gets more specific and measurable they’d get more efficient as well. One would think, but one might just be way off the mark. I say this after reading the results of the latest Harte-Hanks study on email. More details in a minute but while companies seem to be doing a better job of getting their messages delivered to their intended recipients, those recipients seem to read them far less often and aren’t reacting as conversions either. In my mind, this is just throwing it up against the wall to see what sticks, but let’s see what you think. Continue reading
Another tidbit from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. It’s not really that surprising but the biggest increase in internet use since 2005 is the 70-75 year-old age group. I love growth statistics. Start with a smallish base, increase the tiny base a small amount – voila! Big growth rate (growing something by half is way easier when it’s small than when it’s big, unless we’re talking about my waistline). Continue reading