Build Strong Customer Relationships: More than Just A Marketing Automation Initiative

Image courtesy of Images Money's photostream

Image courtesy of Images Money’s photostream

Like many of you, I’ve been sold to my entire life and, like many of you, I’ve been on the receiving end of some intriguing customer-facing marketing initiatives from companies I’ve done business with in the past. As a marketing-oriented person, it’s become painfully obvious to me when a business is reaching out to me as part of an automated customer-facing marketing campaign. Year in and year out I continue to receive “Birthday Specials” from NFL.com ever since I purchased my first Cleveland Browns jersey from them (I forget which Quarterback it was at the time).

I went through a few stages with this specific campaign. Initially, I thought it was fantastic that a company that had “no reason” to wish me a happy birthday had taken the time to send me an email doing exactly that. While I didn’t use their “special” 10% off birthday offer, I did take them up on it the following year  though (when Cleveland switched Quarterbacks again) and left happy that I got such a “steal” on a great jersey.

However, I soon began my path toward a marketing degree and learned about customer-centric messaging, Marketing Automation and how they worked together “in an ideal world” and was rather nonplused when I began noticing just how cold and automated my messages were from NFL.com. Then again, it doesn’t take a trained eye to see feigned generosity. In fact, by the fourth year, I found myself automatically dismissing the emails because they were simply a timed deal to me which, frankly, if I waited another month or so, I’d be able to top as I got closer to the holiday season.

I did, however, come across one campaign that, while I now know better because of my position in the industry, has always endeared me to the company that conducted the customer-facing marketing campaign. Each Christmas I would receive a handwritten letter from my car insurance agency personally thanking me for my business and a quick insight into how my agent and his family were doing that year. While I never particularly cared where little Jimmy was going to school or what extracurricular activities little Sally got into that year, it was a constant reminder that I wasn’t just doing business with a company, I was working with a human being, like me. It’s that simple, personal touch; the one that humbles you and reminds you that on the other end of your transaction is just some John Doe trying to earn a paycheck like you and I. It’s those kind of programs that make your clients feel like they’re not being sold to – but that they’re instead being thanked for their continued loyalty by someone not so different than themselves.

While marketing automation is all the rave these days, take a moment to consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your customers and the message you want to send them to ensure that they keep coming back to YOU (and not the name of your company) year in and year out… and what better time than the holidays to express your gratitude? Keep the customer first, not the dollar bill that the customer might otherwise represent, but the person holding that dollar bill.

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