In the old days of marketing, the very fact that a company had a prospect’s email address equated to having their attention.
Not any more.
If your email inbox is anything like mine, barely a day goes by when you don’t receive some kind of marketing circular. We’re constantly bombarded with so-called “special” offers, company or product news updates, or sales pitches – all continually fighting for our attention.
As a result we’re increasingly desensitized to most of the marketing messages that companies send out. More often than not we look at the name of the email sender, perhaps read the subject headline – only to bin the email.
Playing the Numbers Game
Marketers look at the problem as being one of numbers. Increase the number of people receiving the communication to increase the number of take-ups of the offer. They talk about “open rates” – the number of people who view (or “open”) the email as a percentage of the number of emails that are sent out.
Since we’re all getting increasingly fed up receiving with such mails, you won’t be surprised to hear that email open rates are in a state of continual decline.
Today, depending on the industry, it’s getting increasingly more common to have an email open rate in single-digit percentages. Marketers would have you believe that this is “normal”. However, I’d contend that it’s a sign that corporate marketing has lost the attention of the people that they’re trying to communicate with.
An Abuse of Trust
Why? Because many of the people on email distribution lists feel that they’ve been conned. They feel that they were forced into giving their contact details, in order to receive something of a perceived value.
Now they’re receiving overly-frequent, untargeted communications which they respond to by ignoring them. Fancy graphics, killer copywriting and an ever-more compelling value offering now only goes part of the way.
What’s the solution? Should we all stop offering something in return for a customer’s email address? I don’t think that’s the issue.
The issue is that email lists compel us to categorize and segregate customers and prospects into nameless, faceless entities. While what we should be doing is using technologies such as email communications to recognize that there’s a person, an individual, at the end of every one of those email addresses.
Sure, you need to create and show the value of your offering. But if you really want to attract and maintain a customer’s attention, then they need to feel that you value them too.