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Over the years, if I did business with your brand or company, or signed up for your loyalty program, I opted in for your e-mail stream. As a result, I now receive a ton of e-mails each week—from hotels and airlines, restaurants and retailers, casinos, sports teams and brewpubs. Name even the most obscure vertical, and I probably get an e-mail from it.
The problem: I’ve reached the point of e-mail overload. So the other day I began to finally thin out my e-mail subscriptions, deciding which e-mail streams to keep and which to unsubscribe from. To stay on the “keep ‘em coming” list, the company had to meet one of two criteria:
Did they recognize me as an individual—or was they blasting the same e-mail to me that that they were sending to everyone else?
Did the e-mails bring me value, offering relevant or interesting content—or were they the equivalent of a digital sales circular?
What I saw were a lot of missed opportunities. Here are a few examples.
Staples. At some point I signed up for e-mails from Staples Rewards but I can’t say I’ve opened a single one in 2 to 3 years. Why? In the words of Chris Brogan, too much “selly-sell” and not enough value.
The main focus of their last e-mail was to “save 50% off cleaning and break room supplies”, which might be relevant if I had a break room. What would have persuaded me to stay: some content aimed at me, the independent business person, that established Staples as a thought-leader in the small business space. VERDICT: UNSUBSCRIBE
Avis. While they do recognize me by name: Thomas, Save With The Avis Corporate Awards Program read one recent subject line, there is no other recognition of my past history with the company—including the fact I haven’t rented a car from Avis in well over a year. If the company had realized I had fallen off the radar and used a “win-back” approach to try and regain my business, I might have kept them in the mix. VERDICT: UNSUBSCRIBE
Hilton. As a member of Hilton HHonors, I receive a regular stream of e-mails enticing me to get special deals on Hilton locations in San Francisco, Hawaii and even China. What I don’t see are e-mails tailored to the actual cities I visit.
Now one reason may be that I don’t always stay with Hilton on my travels. But if they took the time to survey me on the locations I’m most interested in hearing about, they could personalize their communications to me and my specific travel needs. VERDICT: UNSUBSCRIBE
Booking.com. This travel site knows that I was recently looking for rooms in both Atlantic City and New York City and sent me an e-mail with the following enticing message: Last-minute deals for Atlantic City and New York City. Get them before they’re gone!
Since I never volunteered this info to the site, they obviously “cookied” me the last time I was there. Sure, I’m aware of the Big Brother aspect of this, but it’s the way the game is played these days and Booking.com is playing it well. Their e-mail was tailored to my needs. VERDICT: KEEP ‘EM COMING
New York Mets. I have to commend my favorite baseball team for taking the initiative this past offseason and sending me an e-mail that linked to a long-survey to try and figure out who I was. While it’s too early to gauge the results, they wanted to know how many games I attended in person each year, how much I watched games on their network and even my take on the team. It will be interesting to see how they use this info in the months ahead. VERDICT: KEEP ‘EM COMING
Patagonia. I’m a sucker for a good story and Patagonia has plenty of them. Sure, they’re trying to sell me stuff, but their e-mails also link me to stories about exotic places, via adventurers who travel the world decked out in Patagonia gear.
It’s soft sell at its very best and it emotionally ties me to the brand. It also doesn’t hurt that Patagonia has a great product—their clothing lasts forever. VERDICT: KEEP ‘EM COMING
How about you—are there any e-mails you receive that keep you connected to a brand? Or are there any that you believe are missing a golden opportunity? This post originally appeared in Loyalty Truth.