I have daily fights with my email inbox. It seems that the messages have a life of their own; they keep coming back. I implemented filters, SPAM control tools, but nothing seems to be effective, and I started to see email as a cold and sinister tool. As my colleagues and friends share the same opinion, email seems to be the worst possible tool to engage with your customers. But, bring in a lot of creativity and even this tool can be an effective way to engage with your customers. That happened to me with LinkedIn and an unexpected message.
LinkedIn found a nice way to celebrate their user number 100 million: LinkedIn’s co-founder sent a personalized email to the first million users, thanking us for being the pioneers in the adoption of the site (I am one of the 610,000 first users). It was a nice surprise and recognition to all of us that used it a lot and recommended to a ton of friends (I have over 1,000 contacts).
And how much did it cost to them? A few hours in data mining, a few more in formatting the message and the mailing. And it worked; I really liked it. Saying thank you in a nice way is something that increases the bond between your customers and your business. Compare this with the alternative of advertising in a mass media channel: would it reach me? That is pure efficiency, aligned with good business practices.
Since we discuss a lot about digital inclusion, these tools will be the most efficient way to address large audiences properly. Most of the developing world is getting connected now and not used to this type of relationship with companies, but it cannot be ignored. When we look at campaigns from Big Brother, American Idol, Coca-Cola, and many more, we see that hundreds of millions of messages are sent, with high-level of engagement. But, is that all we can do with them?
But nothing is so simple, and I believe that extensive research is necessary in this field. User experience matters a lot, especially when you are dealing with customers that have devices with limited data speeds, data allowances and screen sizes. Today that is the main issue with many sites and social media tools, one size does not fit all. We have also to consider illiteracy in many parts of the world, relying more on visual interfaces with intuitive controls. Nevertheless, by being prepared to interact with them in an efficient and creative way, companies can reap the benefits of establishing solid connection channels with their customers.
And you, have you used it correctly to interact with your customers? Or did you send only new products information?