Resolve to really get to know your contacts!

Fawn Young

Happy New Year! With the welcoming in of 2012, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about running a manage/update preferences campaign. Make a new year’s resolution to get to know your contacts better by running this valuable campaign. It’s been a busy holiday season and you’ve likely gathered many new contacts on your list, but how much do you really know about them? When they were signing up for your email program, did you just capture their email address or did you take it a little further and get their first name and birthday as well? Did you get any additional information? Was all the information you captured relevant?

When creating or tweaking your manage preferences form, be sure to ask for more than just an email address update. Think of additional information that you could gather from your contacts that pertains to your business and that you could turn around and use for future personalization, segmenting or setting up automated message triggers.

For example, consider the following as some fields you could include on your form:

  • First name (for personalization)
  • State or zip (for geo-targeting)
  • Product category of interest (for segmentation)
  • Birthday (for automated message triggers)
  • Anniversary (for automated message triggers)
  • Gender (for segmentation)
  • Email preference (web only, store + web)

I’ve seen so many companies that are collecting information from me and then never use it. If you’re going to ask me my birthday, my expectation is you’ll send me a birthday message when that time of year rolls around. If you ask me my category or brand preference, my expectation is that you’ll pepper-in some messages to me that are more targeted than a general “blast” that your entire list would get. For example, if I tell you my favorite category is dresses, I expect to see some emails focused on dresses from time to time. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of new dresses coming in stock for spring. Segment out all those contacts that have let you know they love dresses and send them a “Because you love dresses, be the first to view our new line of dresses for Spring” message. This will make me feel like you’re really paying attention to what I like and that I’m in the know before the general public. I’d likely purchase as I’m browsing the new styles as well, so you’re gaining revenue. You can send out a message to your general list a few days later about your new dresses if you like, but be sure to suppress those that are your dress lovers that have already received the email.

REEDS Jewelers does a great job with their email preferences form (click below on the image to see entire form)

REEDS Jewelers

REEDS is collecting very relevant information that they can use to send automated triggered messages such as birthday and anniversary reminders. They take it even further and ask for my brand preference and which types of emails I would like to receive. They’ve done a great job with their manage preferences form.

Once you’ve got your form established, it’s time to get it in front of your contacts and incentivize them to update their preferences. Create a message that is dedicated to updating preferences and give your subscribers a clear call to action. Link this message directly to your manage preferences form. It will help your response rate if you offer some sort of incentive to those that choose to provide you with additional information. Also consider remailing to those that didn’t open the message the first time you sent it. The Container Store has a good example of an update/manage preferences email send:

As an ongoing practice you can dedicate a small banner space in your regular email template that calls out updating preferences. This doesn’t have to include an incentive since it will be in every email you send going forward. It’s just a larger call-out that will enable a contact to easily tell you more about themselves at any time.

Golf Discount does an excellent job of this – notice their banner space for “You can choose your email content”

Golf Discount

Not every contact will feel comfortable providing more information, but there will be many who do. The key is to make all the fields optional so that if someone wants to give you some info but not everything, they can. The information they provide you is absolute gold and should be treated as such. Do not ignore what your subscribers have told you. Instead, begin to have conversations with them by sending more targeted messages based on their preferences. As engagement becomes more of a factor in inbox deliverability it will become more and more important to send messages that your subscribers find relevant and decide to interact with.

I encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution to really get to know your contacts and create a relationship with them based on the information they decide to trust you with.

Fawn Young
Marketing Strategist at Bronto