(The following blog is a guest post written by my son Dalton Anderson who is covering for me tonight as I’ve been swamped planning an upcoming University board conference I’m in charge of that takes place next week – thanks D!)
I’m a product fanatic. Plain and simple. When I have a need (usually a want), I’m the type of person that spends hours researching different brands and companies to find the best product solution, then I sleep on my decision, spend a few more hours researching, consult a ton of people, watch a bunch of reviews, and finally—I wait for a good deal to pop up so I can pull the trigger. Due to this lengthy vetting process, I tend to be loyal to the brands I buy from. A natural consequence is that I’m on a lot of mailing lists. In the past year, I’ve read hundreds (not a hyperbole) of company newsletters and product emails, and I want to share a few of my observations.
With a focus on customer emails—and not spam—a good company keeps their customer informed. A great company keeps their customer engaged. But a dynamite, keep-me-coming-back-for-more kind of company utilizes their emails to provide customers with actual value.
For example, I bought a Nest thermostat to enter the smart home products game. I signed up through the app, got the device installed, and presto [insert magic hands], I was a Nest customer. Nest (now Google Nest) is a pretty cool company that’s doing a lot of cool integrations for the smart home, but I only received an email or two total while I had the thermostat (I’m speaking in past tense because we switched to Ecobee—but that’s beside the point). The first email was to assure customers that there wasn’t a privacy issue, and I appreciated being informed. During the six months we had our thermostat, I never received additional emails. Now I’m not complaining, because the worst thing a company can do is send so much spam that I jam the “Unsubscribe” button faster than Chewie blasts the Millennium Falcon into lightspeed; I’m just pointing out that it didn’t build my loyalty to the brand either. This was over a year ago, so it might be different now, but at the time, the company only used their emails to inform their audience.
Cinemark, an American movie theater chain, on the other hand is an organization that has my number. I get an email every couple of weeks about new movies coming out with details about exclusive offers, and I really enjoy those. The email provides links to buy my tickets, merchandise, and concessions. They’re consistent so I know what to expect, and if there’s a movie I don’t care about, I delete the email. When there’s a movie I DO care about, I’m all about getting those emails. Cinemark makes it easy for me to engage and be a repeat customer. Before I was on the email list, I didn’t think too much about which theater I was traveling to. Cinemark has changed that for me, because now I purposely select one of their theaters, and I credit that to their ability to engage me through email.
Getting repeat customers might be the goal of promotional emails, but every company should set a higher goal. Promotional emails should offer the customer additional value, something that can’t be found on the company’s website. That’s how an organization turns loyal customers into full-fledged family members. When I married Lex, I also married into a hunting family. I’m a city-kid through and through; I’ve never owned camo ANYTHING—ever! To be accepted, I knew I’d have to procure some leaf-patterned clothing. I began an exhaustive search of every hunting brand in existence. I hate to admit my ignorance, but I genuinely thought there would only be five companies out there. Not. Even. Close.
I’ll time-lapse forward to when I finally found my brand of choice, Kuiu. Kuiu was a real game-changer for me, because it was the first time that I thought a camo pattern looked cool. The first product I got was a light jacket, and it’s still my favorite jacket three years later. The reason I have two pants, a heavy jacket, two gloves, socks, shirt, base layer pant, binocular harness, glassing pad, day pack, AND belt is because of their emails. Being a beginner at something is tough, especially when there are a TON of barriers to entry. Hunting was something that I had zero familiarity with, and the fact that there’s a whole wardrobe to go with it added to my confusion and frustration in learning. Kuiu made it easy for me though. Their emails don’t just send out products and promotional offers (although they do send plenty of those too), but they have educational emails that help you understand which product is best for which scenario and environment, why you would want one camo print over another, and how to utilize your gear in the field. For a seasoned pro, these types of emails probably don’t mean much, but for a novice like myself, this was golden education that I received for free! The important information can be found on their website, but being a member of its email list gives me a deeper dive, and I receive exclusive content and additional value. Those emails turned me from a repeat buyer to a Kuiu fanatic! Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Kuiu, even if you don’t hunt, it’s time to educate yourself. Their products are fantastic.
In fairness, Kuiu really is a fantastic brand on their own merit, but my home warranty company sends out awesome emails with tips on how to keep my appliances in working order, whether knives should go handle-up or handle-down in the dishwasher, and the best way to get the grime out of my oven. I actually love those emails, and it’s from a home warranty company! No offense, but I figured those would be some of the most useless and boring emails I could receive, but this company figured it out, and it really has bred my loyalty to my home warranty company. Conclusion: no matter what company or product you have, if you’re sending out those promotional emails, then utilize them to connect with your customer. They really can help your ROI and increase your customer loyalty. I have no statistics to prove that, but it sounds like something that must be true, doesn’t it?
~Dalton Anderson (son of Amy Rees Anderson, author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )