Thursday, 30 June 2011

Timing is Everything..No Matter How Beautiful the Creative

My Life as a Second Hand Car Salesman

Ok so that sounds like an unusual title for a post on a blog that generally talks about eCRM  - so bear with me a while

As part of my introduction at the Dutch Dialogue Marketing Associations Sexy Email Event, I gave brief history of how I ended up in eCRM. And naturally my previous incarnations as an Astrophysicist and Second Hand Car Salesman were mentioned

Although my first degree in Astrophysics wasn't exactly the best spring board into the world of marketing it actually has some synergies. It involved actually applying Physics and Data to the study of the universe. And in my eyes eCRM has data at it's core, but more importantly the application of that data to a better understanding of the customer.

Anyway, I digress.

Many moons ago a role in commerce with such a bizarre choice in degree was not that easy. So, looking to make some money I landed a role as a car salesman with Datsun, the predecessor to Nissan

Now it actually turns out that what I used to do in terms of identifying warm prospects and clinching the deal has some resonance with todays smarter use of behaviour based marketing

One of the key skills of any good car salesman the ability to spot a warm prospect and not just a tyre kicker. This was by no means a simple exercise and one that was not really developed without experience ( and in all fairness one skill that I never mastered even if only because I didn't last long in that role)

With time, the really good salesmen could spot the buying signals that the individual on the car lot would display by the amount of time they might spend round a particular model and the questions they would ask to gain more information. Sound like how we might use web data to understand a prospect on line?

Another key skill was the ability to personalise the deal - and I don't mean the free sunroof being offered by my colleague as he walked past the prospect at my desk brandishing a can opener! These days we can even personalise the content of a website without even knowing who the individual is, but just because we know where they came from in terms of search engine and the search terms they used.

Another frequent ploy was the 'my wife/brother drives one of these' comment that acted as a precursor to the recommendation/reviews of today.

Of course not all the tactics were of such a dubious nature. We would often genuinely try and help the prospect buy rather than sell them something by asking key questions about how many miles they would be driving in town or on the motorway, how many people they would carry etc etc. We might even offer to show them the brochure

The level of personalisation of course depended to a certain extent on how much we felt we could stretch the prospects budget. Metallic paint, comfort packs, headlight washers were all on offer and by asking a few questions we could quickly gauge what was appropriate . And of course the option to further cross sell up sell was never missed in particular if we could imply that having gone for the leather seat option the leather care scotch guard treatment was a must. Of course this is now very cleverly done in real time on line by making use of the web analytics available to create unique levels of personalisation for each visitor

And we even had our version of a re-marketing or cart abandonment program. If a customer decided that actually they weren't going to buy, we would give a clear signal to our General Manager who would accidentally bump into the customer as they were about to leave the showroom and either illicit a reason for the lack of a purchase and make an ofer that would counter that or actually just them make them an offer they couldn't refuse

In fact sometimes that offer would take place via follow up telephone call 48 hours later if we felt that worked best. Timing was key

Not all ideas are new. We just get to action them faster these days..and the salesmen are much more like an Algorithm than a Swiss Toni

Image courtesy of The BBC

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Love Me or Like Me...Just Follow Me

In a previous post I talked about best practice in terms of un-subscription pages. One of the suggestions was to give subscribers the opportunity to follow your brand via another channel such as Facebook or Twitter.

Of course ideally you don't want subscribers to un-subscribe, but what if you notice that they are not engaging with your emails? Should you try and head off the un-subscribe at the pass?

Recently I've not been opening my Habitat emails - not because I've fallen out of love with them, but just because I'm not buying for the house. They have spotted the lack of engagement and I received a very interesting email from them this morning. The subject line was 'Love Habitat? Like us on Facebook!' and the main image and copy looked like this

'We noticed you're not loving our emails, so why not like us on Facebook instead?'

I think this is a great example of using email engagement data to keep subscribers engaged with the way or another

Friday, 24 June 2011

Sexy Email Event Amsterdam

I had the honour of being invited by the Dutch Dialogue Marketing Association  to present at their 3rd Sexy Email Event. I gave my view on what made email or creative?

Here is a snapshot of the event.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Introducing Groupon Now !

All part of the Glocal thing - Global going Local that is. Although it would be great if Groupon could tailor my daily email deals offers!

Although according to this article from Mobile Commerce Daily Groupon's main challenge is customer retention. The location thing is all over the press at the moment but that does need to be used in conjunction with what else they might know about me as individual. The deals need to be relevant in more ways than just proximity. Surely my preference for Pizza over Thai is important, and the fact that I used the 'Free Muffin with my Coffee' offer when last in this shopping centre

And in fact, it would seem that with this trial as reported in Advertising Age , Groupon could be on the verge of linking transactions to a richer vein of customer data by using the store loyalty card. Seems like a smart move. And as the article suggests, get a view on the longer term return of discounting.

What do you think?

Monday, 6 June 2011

Where do I sign up?

I was reading with interest a blog exchange on between Marco Marini, the CEO of ClickMail Marketing and Jordie van Rijn, an independent email marketing consultant at EmailMonday and editor of

They were essentially discussing the value of the sign up box to grow your lists organically using your website. As it picked up on some themes I talked about in ‘Why should I sign up to your newsletter’ on my blog, I thought I would share my Top 10 for the sign up process.

1. Make It Easy to find and do – ideally above the fold Top Right, but it’s worth testing this.
2. Provide only one newsletter subscription page that includes information about all available email newsletters
3. Clearly state when users have navigated to the newsletter sign-up process
4. Don’t pre-select any newsletters for users unless they have clicked on a link that named a specific newsletter
5. In multi-step processes, let users know how many steps remain
6. Explain the ‘value proposition’ – what’s in it for me?
7. Manage expectations – what will I get when and how often?
8. Have a clear Privacy Policy and if you use incentives - be transparent
9. Send a confirmation email, or maybe even the last newsletter – but tell the subscriber to look out for it
10. On the confirmation page / email get subscribers to add you to the contacts list!

Any other contenders ?