Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Careful of 'Mental Opt-Out' With Email Marketing

For those who read my Blog, you know that I feel strongly that the email channel is significantly underutilized by the banking industry. Not only do marketers not effectively leverage this channel in conjunction with other direct and mass marketing options, most banks do a terrible job at even collecting email addresses in the first place.

Unfortunately, for those who have begun to use email marketing in support of customer communication efforts, some have gone to the opposite extreme by viewing email as a 'free' marketing tool without giving adequate thought to the importance of relevancy. As many realize in their daily scanning of their email in box, overusing the email channel can have a detrimental effect of the value of this channel and negatively impacting the overall customer experience.

It was with great interest therefore that I read a recent op-ed in DM News written by Mark Smith from Portrait Software discussing the mental opt-out that occurs when a company bombards a customer with too much untargeted email marketing communication, only to have the reader open the email and then quickly hit the "delete' key. The impact of multiple irrelevant emails is to either explicitly receive an opt-out to future email or to implicitly lose the intended reader's trust and attention for future communication that may have been of interest.

As Mark mentions in his op-ed, if you get a reputation for sending irrelevant communications, you are basically asking for mental opt-out. And just because a customer's name doesn't appear on the do-not-contact list, it doesn't mean they are paying attention.

As financial institutions get more comfortable with this channel, it will be important to ensure that adequate targeting is done and that the focus of each email is to positively impact lifetime customer value.

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