The offer from a large, well-known department store for “looks you’ve got to get,” “uplifting wedge sandals,” and “flirty, sweet scarves” did not make my day. Nor did the offer of “The Power, the Passion, the Beauty of Art” at a 25 percent savings from American Express (even with its description of the “beautifully crafted masterpieces ready to hang in frames of impeccable museum quality”). Companies using e-mail in the wrong ways are spoiling it for the rest.
A most cogent argument for the use of e-mail for CMR comes from Gideon Sasson, executive vice president and enterprise president at Charles Schwab: “Until now, companies have viewed e-mail as merely an effective marketing tool. But, at Schwab, we’ve realized that it’s one of the most powerful tools we have for building personal and deep relationships with our customers. And it can drive all sorts of behaviors—from building brand loyalty, to building brand identity, to building commitment. This, in turn, maximizes the value of customer relationships and transfers to increased profitability.”
Here are some things to keep in mind when sending e-mail to customers:
Be sure your mail will be readable the way you send it and limit yourself to 65–75 characters per line.
Let your customer tell you if his or her software can handle HTML or rich text format (RTF) before using it.
Keep your address lists clean and updated.
Keep it simple. One page is best.
Don’t be a spammer.
Above all, be sure your message is timely and relevant for your customer.
E-mail is cheaper and faster than a letter. It is less intrusive than a phone call. It is less hassle than a fax. But if your e-mail message is not relevant to your customer, it’s not an effective marketing tool. Irrelevant e-mail, even to your best and most loyal customer, is no better than spam.
Charles Schwab, “Improving Customer Satisfaction for AOL E-Mail Users,” Quris, Inc., February 2001, p. 1.