In recent months, viral wedding proposals have been getting attention from the mainstream media. It seems traditional public proposals involving a Jumbotron at a sporting event to make the request of a lifetime have become blasé.
Now, to make the moment memorable, bachelors are putting their girlfriends through hell before popping the question. Recently, Marcia Belyea was pulled over by a police officer, informed she owed $2,000 in fines and could spend 30 days in jail. As she cried in the back of the patrol car, the officer offered her a deal—if she yes to a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, she would be free to go.
As marketers, we know that motivation can come in many forms including love, fear and survival. However, does a bachelor really think he needs to use fear and the experience of detainment for an affirmative response? No, the future groom wants to do something funny to attract attention.
We all can be guilty of this natural and human need for attention. When marketers focus on personal recognition rather than shining the spotlight on customers, we end up tarnishing our customer relationships.
Customer trust is priceless
“Competence is no longer scarce. What’s scarce is trust, connection and surprise. These are the elements in the work of a successful artist.”
- Seth Godin
In the search for marketing successes (i.e. seeing our campaign email CTRs rise, our social followers double and website conversions triple), how do we recognize when we have gone too far, risk losing our customers’ trust and stop using gimmicks to make ourselves look better?
Three things to think before hitting send
1. Value the long-term relationship
We are encouraged to be storytellers – entertaining, informing and piquing interest to uncover new facts, all with the goal to ensure the reader turns the page. Some of the current marketing tactics make customers feel burned, and in response, close the book before they ever reach the climax of the story. Ask yourself – does the content keep the conversation going, and plant the seed for next idea?
For example, look no further than an email sent on behalf of the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. The subject line simply stated “My Vice President,” and was sent around the expected time that the choice of running mate would be announced.
However, instead of revealing the VP choice, the Romney campaign asked its email subscribers to donate to the campaign. Again, this was a shortsighted marketing strategy to raise open rates in the hope of increasing campaign donations.
2. Empathize with the reader
Be mindful of the reader’s situation and current state. If the marketer from this example from a job search site did so, I don’t believe she would have sent an email with the subject line “XYZ Technologies is Interested in You” and then proceeded to write …
I am a customer service representative at [JOB SEARCH SITE]. I found a position with XYZ Technologies that you may be interested in, based on information from your resume or a recent application you made on our site. You can review the position on the [JOB SEARCH SITE] site here.”
Being unemployed can be stressful, and it’s a full-time job searching for work. A person may send out hundreds of resumes, make several daily phone calls, and attend networking functions weekly, all to find one great opportunity. The job seeker may perceive the above-mentioned subject line as a tiny victory – there is a company interested in me! To learn it’s a false statement is an immediate letdown.
No marketer or organization wants to make his customer feel this way. As a safeguard, keep this quote close by your desk.
“Effective engagement is inspired by the empathy that develops simply by being human.” – Brian Solis
3. Clear the way
The path to purchase is truly a bumpy and narrow road, not a superhighway. Our job as marketers is to be a talented tour guide, pointing out relevant facts to the explorer, and introducing her to new truths to collect, discover and share.
In addition, it is critical to clearly outline the steps with no roadblocks or detours. In the case of email, a subject line is the bridge that supports the “From” line and carries realistic expectations for the content inside the email. Communicating your connection, credibility and exclusivity is the key that drives accurate and truthful subject lines.
Connection – Share something that demonstrates the relationship you have with the customer or prospect. In the case of that job search site, the subject line should have been “<NAME>, 3 companies meet your employment criteria.”
Credibility – Supply due dates, expiration dates, product numbers, or percentages to reduce any apprehension to opening the email.
Exclusivity – Communicate your message’s value proposition concisely and without exaggeration to entice readers to open an email. People are more likely to be attracted to help that they cannot get anywhere else.
These three boxes to check prior to each email marketing campaign will make sure you keep things coherent and meaningful. Only then will the offers come across as real value, and your followers become your customers. Paying attention to customers, instead of attempting to draw it for yourself, will pay off in the long run. You’ll encourage the engagement you deserve, “simply by being human.”