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In the age of the Internet, how do you keep your customers coming back--again and again--when your competitors are always just one click away? How do you turn casual, anonymous surfers into profitable, "engaged" customers?
The answers to these questions can be found in The Eng@ged Customer, written by Hans Peter Brondmo, one of the Internet's best known and most successful direct marketing experts. In this new marketing classic Brondmo introduces readers to the new rules of Internet direct marketing and shows them how to use email to build service rather than marketing relationships.
A visionary in both the technology and marketing arenas, Brondmo has shown more company executives than anyone how to build lasting, profitable, one-on-one relationships with customers on the Internet. His client list includes such household names as Palm, Hewlett-Packard, Victoria's Secret, Amtrak, Wells Fargo Bank, OfficeMax, Wegmans Food Markets, as well as such Internet leaders as CDNow, E-Trade Women.com, Petopia.com, Sparks.com, and eBags.com.
The Eng@ged Customer makes Brondmo's expertise available to executives, managers, and marketers in both Old and New Economy businesses. The book combines a strategic perspective with tactical guidance, showing where and how to invest in order to build an Internet direct marketing program, and how to plan, develop, and implement your program for maximum success.
While sending email messages to customers may sound like a simple process, retailers and marketers all over the world have discovered just how difficult it is to do it well. Let Brondmo show you how to
- design email communications and marketing programs that have your customers complaining if they don't hear from you
- understand and manage customer information so that you can "get to know" each and every customer--even if you've got millions
- avoid spam and the potential nightmare of privacy violations
- anticipate the organizational impact of customer-focused Internet direct marketing
- define, measure, and track your success.
Whether you are an executive or a manager, The Eng@ged Customer will show you:
- how to keep your customers coming back
- how to rise above the increasing Internet clutter
- how to become the trusted voice that your customers rely on.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Back To The Future
It may sound odd, but the Holy Grail of Internet commerce and marketing is to provide the same kind of service that merchants and storekeepers did about a hundred years ago. At the turn of the last century, if you were a good customer your butcher might set aside his best cut of meat for you. He knew your tastes, your preferences, perhaps even how many family members you were buying for and whether any of them had special dietary needs. He might even suggest a few recipes every once in a while.
Customers--whether they're buying online or walking into a store--have always patronized companies that offer good products and services. But that has never been all there is to a purchase decision--and the old-time butcher knew it. He understood four basic principles: recognize and greet every customer by name, communicate with each one as an individual, reward the best customers, and provide great service to everyone. Consumers responded accordingly, giving their business to companies that recognized them, respected their time and privacy, simplified their choices, knew when to talk and when to listen, and engaged them in open, honest communication.
But in the era of mass merchandising and mass marketing, getting to know every customer and interact with each one individually is a financial near-impossibility, especially if you've got tens or hundreds of thousands--perhaps even millions--of customers.
As we look at the history of retailing and customer marketing over the past one hundred years, it's clear that there's a direct link between technological innovation and change in retail. Incredibleimprovements in manufacturing, transportation, and communication technologies made three things happen. First, manufacturing made it possible to produce and distribute an enormous range of new products with incredible efficiency. Second, new forms of transportation and communication allowed consumers to travel greater distances to shop or even transport goods directly to consumers. The railroad made it possible to open the first department stores at the turn of the last century. Goods could be manufactured at geographically remote locations and transported by train in large volumes and at reasonable costs to the department stores. Customers, in turn, could jump on a local passenger train or streetcar and go shopping downtown. A few decades later the automobile made it feasible to build big malls outside of the town center, where there was ample and cheap real estate. New forms of communications technologies had eliminated distance as an important factor in where and how people could shop. Credit cards were invented in the 1950s, and toll-free 800 telephone numbers were introduced in the late 1970s. Both these advances gave catalog and telephone shopping and marketing a huge boost. But even though new manufacturing, transportation, and communication technologies resulted in increased product selection and reduced costs, what we as customers lost was the personal relationship with the neighborhood store owner. Service and individualized communication was not a cost-effective option for the large retail superstores and the catalog marketers. Enter the Internet.
Thanks to email, there is now a way for companies like yours to regain the ability to communicate and maintain ongoing dialogues with their customers the way they used to so many years ago. You'll be able to get to know each one individually and give them all personalized attention and service in a timely way. You'll be able to offer all your customers a nearly limitless selection of products and services and still set aside the best deals for the best customers. And you'll be able to do it all not just with a few hundred customers but with millions.
What's the secret? Email marketing, which we define in this book as personalized Internet direct marketing and communication based on strategic marketing program design, and data analysis. Email marketing is about helping you to understand who your most valuable customers are, establish meaningful dialogues with them, and offer them individualized service in order to realize the maximum value from them over time. It's about allowing your customers to communicate with you in ways they never could before. More broadly, email marketing is about helping you understand how you can use customer insight combined with finely targeted, personalized, and timed communication to meet your bottom-line business (and marketing) objectives.
The problem is, email marketing is still largely misunderstood and misused. What could and should be the single most effective tool for building a lasting dialogue with prospects and customers ends up not only wasting a lot of time and money but alienating customers who are sick and tired of receiving spam. It doesn't have to be this way.
An Engaged Customer Is A Valuable Customer
Although every company will take a slightly different approach to designing a strategic email marketing program, they are all realizing how important it is to engage their customers--to have an ongoing dialogue with them, to get to know their likes and dislikes and treat them as individuals. Why? Well, let's start with a quick definition of what the word "engaged" means. Engagement is often a first formal step on the road to marriage. We can also be engaged in our work or in extracurricular activities and hobbies. Wherever or however we use the word, engagement involves some form of ongoing, active participation in a relationship. To be engaged is to be committed. To engage is to show interest and participate.
The same applies to your business. Engaged customers listen and interact with you. They care about what your company can offer them. They spend more time with you and give you a greater share of their attention. This translates into something far more tangible: a greater share of their wallet and increased long-term value. Engaged customers are also loyal; they tell their families, friends, and colleagues about you and get them engaged as well. Simply put, the more engaged your customers are, the more valuable they are.
The New Rules Of Engagement
In the old world of direct mail and telemarketing companies controlled customers' access to the information they housed in their databases. Not surprisingly, customers usually considered themselves victims, rather than beneficiaries, of direct marketing campaigns. But today customers are no longer willing to be passive targets. Increasingly, they're taking control, choosing which companies they will engage with and defining the terms of the interaction...
Table of Contents
|Part I||Using Email to Engage Your Customers||1|
|Chapter 1||Back to the Future||3|
|Chapter 2||Email and Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven||20|
|Part II||Taking a Strategic Approach||35|
|Chapter 3||The Many Uses of Email||37|
|Chapter 4||Strategic Planning Leads to Rapid Implementation||61|
|Chapter 5||The Power of Customer Data||77|
|Part III||Implementing Customer Dialogue||97|
|Chapter 6||Establishing a Foundation for Individualized Customer Communication||99|
|Chapter 7||Kickoff: Implementing and Operating a Program||121|
|Chapter 8||Measuring and Tracking Success||165|
|Chapter 9||Who's Who? Putting All the Pieces Together||189|
|Part IV||Looking Ahead||207|
|Chapter 10||The Engaged Organization||209|
|Chapter 11||The Future of Customer Dialogue||225|
Building Customer Relationships Through Ongoing Email Communication
by Hans Peter Brondmo, author of The Eng@ged Customer
Email is the most powerful tool companies have ever had for establishing direct, timely, and personal customer communication. And while many of the new economy's rules are different, the concepts that underlie the building of lasting customer relationships are actually very simple.
In fact it's all about returning to commonsense principles that every local store owner knew 100 years ago: Treat every customer as an individual, know your best customers, greet them by name, get to know their interests, and communicate with them based on their stated preferences and behavior.
But while the local store owner could service only a few hundred customers, today's retailers and service providers are interacting with thousands, even millions, of individuals daily. And, by using the new technologies of the Internet, it is now economically feasible to develop a relationship with every customer, even when you've got millions of them.
Think of your marketing department as a service function, and you will be well on your way to engaging your best customers in lasting relationships. You will fail miserably if you just attempt to use the Internet to do "better, faster, cheaper" traditional or purely promotional direct marketing. Open, honest, timely, and relevant communication is key to building successful relationships. Customers increasingly expect the companies with which they do business to treat them like individuals, not "targets." Successful marketers will focus on "listening and learning," not "telling and selling."
To engage your customers in relationships based on ongoing email communication, consider the following rules:
- Watch your language. The words you use to describe your marketing programs say a lot about how you think about your customers. Old words like "lists " and "campaigns" don't project a customer focus. "Integrated customer databases" and "ongoing programs," on the other hand, are good platforms on which to build customer relationships.
- Always ask permission when starting a new relationship and make it easy for your customer to end it. Remember that all relationship marketing must be based on the principle of "opt-in," meaning that the customer is always in the driver's seat.
- Crawl, walk, run! Marketing on the Internet is very different than anything you've done before. So take one step at a time. Think big but start simple. Learn as you go, and before you know it, you'll be breaking new ground and redefining how your company engages with its customers.
- Don't underestimate the impact on your organization. Engaging your customers in relationships through ongoing, timely, and relevant communication requires a strategic focus in order to be successful. The executive commitment, time, and effort involved in becoming "an engaged organization" is significant.
- Privacy is good for business. Mandating strict privacy guidelines builds consumer trust, maintains brand equity by avoiding negative publicity, forces internal data consolidation, and requires a business to orient its internal processes around the customer.
One company that has successfully used email marketing to build lasting relationships with its customers is Palm, Inc. Upon signing up for Palm's Insync Online program, customers provide some basic information on their profession, personal interests, and their level of experience using the Palm computer. In return, they receive weekly emails that target their needs and level of expertise, including advance notice of new products. A medical doctor might, for instance, receive an offer for software developed specifically for her profession.
Insync Online has been an extremely effective and successful program for Palm. It has allowed Palm to engage its most loyal and valuable customers with regular communications. And customers love it because what they receive is based on their specific interests and their history with the company.
The Internet has enabled companies to establish an ongoing dialogue with their customers in ways that were previously not affordable. Take the lead from Palm and other smart marketing organizations in thinking of marketing as a service function, and you will be far on your way to engaging customers in lasting, profitable relationships.