Marketing’s Forgotten Child

E-mail marketing has long been neglected in the larger marketing world. That’s understandable — e-mail marketing campaigns are easy to design and cheap to implement. Still, any tool worth using is worth using to its best advantage.

Part of the problem is that e-mail marketers receive little to no feedback about their campaigns. Their messages are usually deleted from recipients’ in-boxes with little comment or discernable reaction.

Instead of just bemoaning this lack of feedback, Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group, suggests one way to overcome the problem: Credit Karma.

Like many sites, Credit Karma presents marketing offers to visitors — but it also lets them rate those offers and comment on them. “In other words, marketers who make offers on Credit Karma can begin to measure relevancy,” Shevlin writes in his blog post. “And there’s no reason why e-mail marketers couldn’t emulate this approach and ask for feedback on the relevancy of their offers. Since many offers are repeated in multiple campaigns, the overall score for a particular offer in one campaign could be shown in subsequent campaigns.”

An e-mail marketer could take an approach similar to Credit Karma’s, testing a campaign before sending it to tens of thousands of recipients, Shevlin suggested.

After a week of having a focus group test the offer, he told CRM Buyer, that marketer would have a much better idea of how to gauge a campaign’s relevance and, ideally, improve it.

Many marketers have little idea how close their campaigns came to hitting the target — or how far off the mark they were. “Think about it. You can get an offer that is very relevant to what you are doing now — say shopping for car financing. But what if you get two offers? You will only pick one. How will that other firm that didn’t get picked know if its message came close or not?

There’s no guarantee the Credit Karma test idea would work, Shevlin acknowledged. “But since no one else is developing ideas to measure relevancy, why not try this one?”

E-Mail marketing Begets Customer Service

The blogosphere is nothing if not viral.

After reading another of Shevlin’s blog posts — this one on customer service and marketing –Denise Wymore thought about her recent experience buying underwear and — voila — came up with her own take on the subject.

“He was adamant that Customer Service is NOT the New Marketing,” Wymore wrote. “Citing an Adweek/IQ Daily Briefing that asks the question IS Customer Service the New Marketing: ‘Companies need to start treating customer service as an investment rather than an expense. The necessary ‘white glove’ level of service required to create raving fans is more expensive in the short-term, but in the long term you not only spend less supporting current customers,’ [Shevlin] writes. ‘Their free word-of-mouth marketing will help you add more customers.’

“I can tell you for certain, that I got white glove treatment at Nordstrom today,” Wymore continues. “I know some of you are probably thinking, well, duh, Nordstrom is KNOWN for their customer service. Hmmmmm, not their marketing?

“You see, I needed some new bras. Anyway, Nordstrom cares about your bra. So much that I had this wonderful young lady spend 45 minutes with me — trying on bras. She was committed to me finding the best fit, the most attractive, and longest-lasting bras. I bought 5. I spent over $300.00. She works on commission. Customer service or marketing?”

The Buzz About VRM

Here’s a sampling of questions and answers about VRM (vendor relationship management) from Joe Andrieu’s post on the subject:

“Q: Is VRM really different from social CRM?

“A: I would suggest that VRM is first and foremost about providing value for the user with any vendor, as opposed to using social networking tools with a particular vendor. VRM is vendor agnostic and silo-adverse.

“Q: Can VRM be implemented in all kinds of business?

“A: Ultimately, it will be as easy for a small company to be VRM compliant as it is for a small company to run a blog or a wiki today. That takes some level of technical sophistication, but it is within grasp of any company that wants to invest a small amount of effort using freely available open source tools.

“Q: As customers are looking for lower prices, don’t you think that Personal RFPs (requests for proposals) are gonna cost more for customers (because they are personalized offers)?

“A: The personal RFP is designed to eliminate transaction costs in the marketplace. Currently, product and vendor discovery is slow, expensive, and uncertain. That means buyers waste time and vendors waste advertising and lead generation dollars seeking the right match between needs and solutions.”

Check out Tomas Kohl’s links to a video of Doc Searls explaining VRM to the audience at Mobile Monday in the Netherlands.

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