YOU’VE GOT EMAIL: The Customer Experience—The New Battleground for Building a Competitive Advantage

When the DMA’s email marketing council merged with the Email Experience Council last year, we maintained the eec name in large part because many of us believe the consumer experience would increasingly take center stage in differentiating email marketers. We also fundamentally believe that if marketers focus on building an exceptional email experience they will not only develop deeper, strong relationships, but they would sell more—further accelerating the enormous ROI attributed to email. Our hope is that this council continues to provide our members with the tools and guidance needed to build exceptional email marketing programs. That guidance—which includes all our research, best practices, educational events, advocacy and the sharing of ideas—has no doubt been helpful to many of us and has often positively impacted our email efforts. However, we still have much to do, particularly as it relates to being able to learn from each other and showcase great email marketing practices that drive results.

That is why I would like to start the New Year off with a new series for this blog entitled “You’ve Got Email.” Each month, You’ve Got Email will highlight great email marketing programs from the consumer’s perspective. I’ll dissect best-in-class email practices ranging from exceptional preference center practices to compelling win-back marketing programs taken from a review of real email messages sent from hundreds of brands. I’ll show the good, the bad and the ugly in hopes of inspiring you to do better. Best of all, because I am an independent consultant right now and don’t need to worry about alienating a client or potential prospect, I’ll be refreshingly honest in the hopes of pushing many of you to do better.

To be clear, I completely understand that many of you reading this still face some very significant data and operational challenges that prevent you from doing the kind of email you would love to do. However, in my experience, very few marketers have taken the necessary steps to bring about the changes needed within their own organizations to evolve their email communications. How many of you have really spent the time building a customer-centric marketing strategy, or leveraged cross-functional customer-facing teams to inform your email marketing strategies or tactics? Or even audited your existing company-wide email marketing initiatives? Be honest—you haven’t—because if you had, we would be seeing a lot more great email marketing. So let’s make this year the year we leave the excuses in the office and focus less on spam and deliverability and more on the customer. Because when you build a great email customer experience that is timely, relevant, wanted and valued, those old issues almost fix themselves.

Finally, I want this blog and column to be interactive, so send me your questions, challenges and even marketing programs you admire or want evaluated. In February we’ll focus on building great email preference pages. Till next time,

—Michael Della Penna