Quick survey: would you rather have a homemade chocolate chip cookie fresh from your grandma’s oven and cooked to your exact gooey vs. crunchy preference, or a generic store-bought cookie from a box that was plucked off the shelf?
The answer is obviously option 1. We all prefer a product that’s had time, care, and thought put into its creation. And customers feel the same way when it comes to their digital experiences with brands; 10 times out of 10, they will prefer a well-thought-out marketing experience over a standardized batch-and-blast email. If only we paid more attention to dear old grandma – she’s taught us all the lessons we need to build better relationships with our leads and drive business results worthy of a nice firm cheek-pinch. Here are 5 of those lessons that you can apply to your marketing starting today.
1. Be Yourself
If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you? When you were young and trying to fit in with the cool clique at school by rocking the latest light-up sneakers, grandma always reminded you that you didn’t need to pretend to be anyone else. You were perfect just being yourself. This same mantra holds true in the business world. You don’t always have to be “the suit” or the fully branded marketer. You can be…YOU. Your communication should remain professional, but it’s okay to communicate as you, the person vs. you, the brand. Let’s compare two different approaches to email promotion.
While there is a time and a place for branded emails such as these webinar promotions our team regularly sends out, experimenting with other looks and styles helps to capture the attention of certain segments of your audience and can
help you pursue a more impactful connection.
Trying out a non-branded, non-template email adds a sense of refreshing authenticity that can be a great way to grab a customer’s attention. Even just plain text can be surprisingly effective. Here’s one example of a plain text email I sent recently to promote a webinar.
Rather than framed as coming from the faceless entity of the entire company, it’s from me on behalf of the company. And this kind of basic email often outperforms more intricate, branded HTML templates.
2. Know the Power of a Heart-to-Heart
Do you know why your grandma loves it when you take the time to call her up on the phone to check up and talk about your day? It’s because she values your relationship and enjoys hearing from you, not because she wants something. That said, no one wants their family members to call them out of obligation; they want them to want to call.
That same thoughtfulness applies when maintaining strong business relationships with your customers and leads. The goal when you send an email shouldn’t be to make a sale; it should be to make a connection. You want to initiate and continue to nurture relationships with every single contact, across every single touch. Those text-based emails referenced in lesson #1 won’t perform unless you use them the right way. If you’re just slapping the same exact copy from a “marketing” email into plain text, you’re missing the point, and your email is going to miss the mark. So how do you make a meaningful connection? By being honest and vulnerable. Let down your guard. Take off the marketing persona, and write like a genuine person.
For example, admit your own mistakes or knowledge gaps. Others will be able to relate. One of the biggest hurdles we face as marketers is being considered believable. There is often so much jargon, rhetoric and exaggerated (or even blatantly false) claims in our industry today that many shoppers/buyers have become skeptical. Break through their doubt by showing them there’s a person on the other end of that email. People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like.
3. Send the Best Care Packages
For a college student existing on dining hall chicken nuggets, delivery calzones and microwaved cup-of-noodles, personal care packages from grandma were an amazing taste of home. In the digital marketing world, we all have high-quality content to send from e-books to blog posts to analyst reports to videos, etc. But the care part comes with how it’s assembled and delivered. Here are two main things to keep in mind when creating a “content care package:”
- Give away your best stuff for free. Identify high-value audience segments that you already have contact info for. Then, send them content without requiring them to fill out another form. Audiences will appreciate this and you can then track other metrics like page hits and open rates to determine their level of interest for follow-up.
- Combine content. Find multiple pieces of content that belong together and send one email featuring multiple assets under that theme. This helps you learn what’s most interesting to the audience out of multiple options. It also helps you feature multiple assets without bombarding your audience with dedicated emails each time you have something to say about a certain topic.
4. Be a Penpal, Not a Helicopter Parent
Nobody likes a nag! A sweet card in the mail every few weeks feels like a welcomed surprise, but five missed phone calls from grandma “just checking in!” feels like a burden. The same repetitive touch-bases are just as frustrating to consumers. Yet many marketers still think more is better and will contact the same person three to four times in a single week. The frequent over-messaging from marketers has made some customers skeptical about sharing any of their information with brands. According to our recent customer experience research, 77% of consumers today believe that brands should not be able to use personal data to send them more marketing messages and advertisements.
As marketers, we own the brand, and we own the database, so it’s up to us to protect our contacts from this type of behavior. Be a penpal and limit how often you are reaching out. Mind your cadence and focus on fewer messages with higher impact.
And it's not just marketing messages you need to consider: make sure to account for product notifications and customer support messages — all of it adds up and reflects on the brand. Meet with other teams regularly to discuss what communications are planned and understand what kinds of messages are triggered, particularly if you have a proprietary platform or app. This is also where smart tech choices come in: aim to invest in marketing technology that helps your organization manage all of these streams of communication so that you can keep an eye on everything in one place (and maintain your sanity!).
5. Be Thrifty with Your Content
Do you have a family member who saves wrapping paper to use again another time? Some may call it hoarding, and others will call it being thrifty. The point is, grandma is the ultimate recycler. Like grandma, get the most use out of the content you create. Strategically repurposing your best content is the only way to maintain a strong brand presence across every channel where people expect to be able to interact with you.
Many marketing teams feel overwhelmed by the explosion of content and end up spending huge amounts of time and resources rewriting, reformatting and republishing practically identical content into each separate system. We call this the Copy-and-Paste Conundrum. It’s a frustrating duplication of materials that can be solved by embracing a more efficient approach to content creation through technology that allows you to create content once and publish it across different channels simultaneously. With a flexible, economic approach to content management, the same messaging can be repurposed into everything from blog posts to landing page copy to email newsletters.
Another area where it’s best to recycle? Data. We collect so much consumer data today, but often fail to use it effectively. Far too often, proprietary marketing technology vendors lock in customers to their solutions and limit how and when they can access their own data. However, an open architecture marketing platform provides data flexibility, allowing marketers to turn their data into actions in real time and integrate that information across all their different systems. But simply having this data isn’t the point -- marketers need to take advantage of it by writing email copy with dedicated spots for personalization. Waste not, want not. Grandma would be so proud of how responsible you’re being!
To learn more about how Acquia Campaign Studio can help you create transparent marketing experiences that build life-long connections, download our e-book, Open Marketing: The Future of Digital Experience Creation.