I was discussing the ideas behind my last post with a friend of mine: M. Shirley Chong is a very well known dog-trainer, big into crafts, half-blind, and as non-geeky as they come. If she wants something changed on her machine, she gets her husband to do it. In short, she’s a reasonably typical end-user. I wanted her perspective on advertising, especially as it pertains to email, which she has to expend extra effort to read due to her sight issues. She had this to say:
I read Anna’s column about the decreasing impact of advertising. I agreed with it and then started thinking about “what is effective advertising?”
Oddly enough, the answer was easy to come up with because I’d just switched to my email program to check email. Right there in my inbox was one of my favourite advertisers, someone whose daily email I always read. Fire Mountain Gems sends a daily email that is colourful, attractive and even if I’m not interested in the specials that day, they include something I want to read such as a tip, a Q&A session or a seasonal forecast.
I had to sign up to get the Fire Mountain Gems daily updates (there’s three of them and I signed up for all three after I’d gotten the first category for a few weeks).
I have a particular dislike for businesses that share my information with other businesses, so I use a combination of three email addresses and permutations of my legal name to come up with unique combinations that lets me know if that happened. All too often, it does – but Fire Mountain Gems has never shared my information with anyone. This may seem like a petty thing but to me it’s important. If I am considering buying something online, one of my first questions is “will this site keep my financial information safe?” Sharing my information says to me that they are not as careful as I would prefer, and it makes me angry.
If I know I won’t be checking email for awhile, then I want to be able to unsubscribe to as many things as possible so I don’t build up an impossible load. Fire Mountain Gems has the unsubscribe information in each email they send. Just click on a link, click a button and it’s a done deal.
So for me, effective advertising is that which:
a) I wanted in the first place;
b) I can turn on and off easily whenever I want to;
c) has interesting content;
d) does not lead to a deluge of email from other businesses.
To me, the take-aways here are: Permission, Respect of Privacy, Ease of Use, Interesting/Valuable Content, and Keeping Promises.
Fire Mountain has continued to live up to her expectations, and the win for them is that they’ve created a loyal, engaged customer that reads their marketing mail, looks forward to next email, and buys things from them. I suspect that if she didn’t get her daily email from them, she would go looking for the reason why. I asked her about the frequency – she asked for that, right? “Oh, yes,” she says, “and it’s a different email every day! It’s not an imposition on my time or my inbox, it’s a very welcome addition…I absolutely cannot say that of any of the purveyors of the free-thingy-just-complete-an-offer, fix-yer-credit, or mortgage re-financers!”*
This is a perfect snapshot of what “engagement” is all about. Question for senders with problem clients: what’s the difference between how Fire Mountain does things, and how your client does things?
*Thank you, Shirley, for taking the time to share your views!