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We Are All Spammers

13 May

If you send emails to groups of people, you are a spammer. We don’t typically think of ourselves this way, but consider the mindset of anyone with the ability to send an email to many people. When you are the sender, you have to decide what you think is important to people. And of course, you tend to think that if you can just get this message to people, they will think it is important, too.

But will they really think it is important?We Are All Spammers
Many people won’t even open the email (unless you magically always have an open rate of 100%). Instead, some people will it open it, and some people won’t open it. This is just like a spammer. When they send an email, they think some people will find the email important enough to open it. And some people won’t open it.

But that spammer very well could have an open rate close to yours. So what makes you different than a spammer?

……………………………….

You could of course argue that people signed up for your list, indicating that they must have some desire to receive emails from you, but this is likely only partially true.

What Did Your List Members Really Sign Up For?

But you have to ask what they really signed up for.

  • Did they sign up after you lured them with a free download of some kind?
  • Did you promise a discount code?
  • Did you promise they would be notified of some upcoming release?

None of these common practices are bad, they are somewhat misleading. If the initial motivation for joining your list was to get something specific, it is a good idea to ask yourself how far your email topics have strayed from this initial offering.

How Frequently Are You Sending Emails?

How frequently are you sending your members emails? How do you think this compares to what they expected when joining your list? You need to check your practices frequently, monitor your open rates, and monitor how many people leave your list after each email.

Practical Changes to Make to Your EMail Practices

First of all, don’t send email “blasts”. Rid your lexicon of that description. Your email practices should be much more sensitive.

Second, notify your list members of how frequently you plan to send them emails. Do this in the initial email, and include it in each email going forward. If you say once a week, then stick to that routine at all costs.

Third, don’t use holidays as a way to sneak an email message in. Just because you have the ability to send an email on any given holiday doesn’t mean you should. Unless that holiday is so relevant to your mission, and your list members lives’ would be worse off without your email, then don’t send it. And being worse off is not the same as being slightly better. I get the sense that people send the holiday emails because they think they are somehow enriching the receivers’ lives, but I doubt that. Instead, think, “If I don’t send this email, will my list members miss it?”

Let me tell you the answer; it is doubtful that they will miss it.

Conclusion

Be sensitive to the personal nature of email and don’t abuse the power you have to get into someone’s inbox. Otherwise, you are no different than a spammer.

……………………………….

Need help with your non-profit or small business email marketing plan? Get in touch; I’d be happy to help.

Mike

3 Opportunities You Are Missing to Provide Value

17 Feb

Why Are People Trying to Provide “Value” by Asking What Others Want?3 Opportunities You Are Missing to Provide Value

Value-making seems to be a full time profession for many people. Everywhere you go there is somebody insisting that they are trying to provide value for their customers, their clients, their company. But what is the value they are trying to provide? People don’t seem to know. Why do I think they don’t know? Because they’re sending out too many surveys. They are constantly talking about value and constantly asking others about value, but they never define value. They value value, but don’t know what it is!?!

Value Is Generic

Value is really a generic catch-all phrase. It’s non-specific. It doesn’t tell me anything about what you do, what you think you should do, or what you want to do. Instead, you sound like everybody else when you talk about value. Do you really need a survey to tell you that people value great customer service? Or timely delivery? Or competitive prices? No, these things are generally a given, though some people will value one more than the other. These values are also generic. Most organizations have these very same values and make promises based on these values.

Problem 1: Organizations Don’t Really Listen

I don’t think people are really listening to the answers their customers, clients, or partners might be giving them about what they value. They’re not listening because the things being said aren’t direct answers. Instead, the answers exist in other interactions.

3 Opportunities to Listen and Provide Value to Customers

  1. For example, when I call any type of customer service line, I expect to get my question answered quickly and professionally. And everybody, including me, thinks their question is unique. No one believes their question is exactly the same as someone else’s question. So why is it so rare to get a real person on the line when you call customer service? Clearly these organizations don’t care about what I really want. But I bet I’ll get a follow-up survey asking me how the phone call went. Instead of this survey, why not have a real conversation with me when I call? Why not listen?
  2. When I’m checking out in a physical store, why doesn’t the cashier listen to what I have to say about my shopping experience?
  3. When I check out online, why doesn’t someone call me to help me through when I’m having trouble? Imagine that level of service.

Problem 2: Value Doesn’t Easily Scale

But these ideas are somewhat of a pipedream because these things many people value don’t easily scale. Amazon can’t scale that level of service to call any customer having trouble checking out online. They’ve already attempted to solve that problem with one-click shopping. Facebook can’t call you when you encounter a log-in issue. Target isn’t suddenly going to have their cashiers strike up a conversation about my shopping experience. Why? It wouldn’t scale well. The utility company, cable company, and so many others aren’t going to get rid of their artificial intelligence operators (standing by, but no real problem-solving skills). It doesn’t scale well.

4 Ways to Scale Value

First, listen in all the interactions you might have with a customer. Don’t have the interaction and then send a survey as a proxy for listening. If you send the survey after the fact, I don’t think you were ever really listening in the first place. Second, be proactive in problem areas. How can you help a customer solve a problem before he/she calls you? Call them first instead. Third, think of every other way you can listen without surveys and pursue those listening opportunities first. Fourth, give all employees the ability and authority to act immediately on whatever they are hearing from customers. Addressing issues after the fact (discovering them through a survey) is hardly ever as good as responding in the moment.

Conclusion: Value People

People want to be valued. Don’t wait to define your values based on surveys. Start first with valuing your customers as people.Constantly act on expected values by listening during conversations and solving problems proactively. If you do these things, you may find that you can say “You’re welcome” more often as customers thank you for your value-based based interactions.

The Cult of You

28 Apr

The cult of you imageYou = the anti-exclusive plea. People are/will be sick of general appeals. They want to be part of an exclusive group. Think Apple, BMW, Whole Foods. Saying “you” doesn’t narrow your audience. Instead, you narrow your audience by specifying who should be interested. Imagine a wedding party where “You” was supposed to sit in every spot. No one would know where to sit.

Instead, tell your potential audience exactly what makes you different. If you’re brave, mention the things you think some people might not like but others will love.

Don’t ask your customers what they want. They won’t tell you truthfully anyway. Use big data, small data, or your eyes and ears instead. Use them morally and ethically.

Don’t say, “I want to provide you value.” Value should be given and those that want what you offer will thank you for it.

You is unfocused and the next cult will be one of Focus and Exclusivity.

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