Email’s Impact On Customer Loyalty

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Relevance is the mantra for today’s email marketers. But it shouldn’t be the only consideration.

The emotional level of the interaction or transaction that an email message pertains to is an important factor in understanding how an email message will impact a customer’s relationship with a product, brand, or company.

Irrelevant email about things a customer doesn’t care about might not impact their loyalty. Example: The emails from credit card providers to “transfer my balances.” I don’t have any balances to transfer, so I don’t really care. Although some might find this annoying, it’s unlikely that few will actually stop using the card or go searching for another as a result.

But irrelevant emails in high-emotion situations can be detrimental. Example: A couple waiting to hear back from their bank about their short term loan application (for the money they need to travel to China to adopt a baby that’s waiting for them) gets an email from the bank with a home equity loan offer. Doesn’t exactly leave them feeling positive about the bank.

Relevant emails (especially pro-active, unexecpected ones) in high-emotion situations are the holy grail. The trick isn’t figuring out the email message — it’s recognizing that a customer is in a highly emotional situation.

How will you identify these situations? By developing a sense-and-respond marketing capability.

3 thoughts on “Email’s Impact On Customer Loyalty

  1. I buy the concept. Amazon do this well, but its not clear many (any) Banks do this well yet, judging by customers responses to the customer advocacy study performed by Forrester last year.

    Does the problem lie in not knowing how to respond, or which data to read, to create a response – how are Banks missing this obvious opportunity?

  2. How are banks missing this opportunity?

    There’s no simple answer — nor fix — to this. Here’s what I think contributes to the issue:

    1) Campaign mentality. The overwhelming majority of marketing communications with customers and prospects at most banks happen in the context of a “campaign”. Yes, there are service- and sales- related interactions that the bank has with a customer, but generally they’re customer-initiated. Most banks are stuck in the “campaign-of-the-month” thinking that prevents them from asking “gee, who should we talking to this week?”

    2) It’s not easy to figure out the right triggers. Some are obvious, some aren’t. Would YOU have guessed that a customer who cancels an insurance policy and a credit card at the same time is likely going through a divorce?

    3) There’s no one doing the analysis. The Analytics folks are neck-deep in campaign analysis. The reporting folks are either just pumping out canned reports, or neck-deep in special requests.

    4) Data silos. Consumers interact with multiple channels (duh, bet that’s news to you, huh?). But few banks have created the ability to analyze that data across channels.

    Creating that “sense-and-respond” capability isn’t easy. (If it were, everybody would have done it already, and there would be competitive parity). But the firm (or few firms) that develop — AND DEPLOY — this capability will enjoy a competitive advantage for a period of time.

  3. An important message can be expected (your loan was approved/denied) or unexpected (you are the victim of identity fraud). I’ll take an expected important message by email because I’m eager to get it, but will be annoyed by unimportant messages during that period because they represent ‘false alarms’.

    I don’t want to get unexpected important messages by email because it seems impersonal and I’m likely to have urgent follow-up questions.

    You should think banks could build some of this logic into their communications rules.

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