Monday, 14 October 2013

The Marketer knows best? Timing and unsubscribes

It's been a rather long blogging break - It's fair to say I have had neither the brain space nor the motivation to pick up the laptop in the evening and think about it. The last six weeks have been an amazing, if somewhat daunting, period of adjusting into life as a Marketer instead of a PR. It really has been fantastic though, and I'm so grateful for how supportive my new team have been.

The inspiration to get back on the blogging-wagon finally came this weekend. Into my inbox on Saturday morning came my first Christmas marketing email, courtesy of M&S.

My immediate reaction was "Noooooooo!!!!!! Way too soon to be thinking about Christmas." I posted this on Facebook, and immediately got a response from a fellow Communications professional to tell me to "Unsubscribe." This came as a surprise to me. I generally like the marketing emails I get from M&S. I like the brand and you can guarantee that I will actually be doing a lot of my Christmas shopping in there. So other than hitting the delete button I wasn't intending to take any action. Should one bad email campaign turn me off to all future campaigns?

I found myself wondering how many brands get it wrong, with trigger finger recipients like my friend immediately opting out from all future contact. Given the number of email campaigns a large business sends out, the risk of damaging those customer relationships with the wrong call to action is pretty high. So how to counter this?

Well, for one thing, one could compare the brand advocacy involved. For me, the "wrong message" (from my point of view being too early) didn't please me, but it only dented what is a strong connection between me and the M&S brand. For my colleague, there could have been a much weaker connection between her and the brand for the reaction to be so extreme. Building relationships is a huge part of what marketing and communications is about. Building up capital is achieved by getting the right messages out at the right time, and providing a pleasing brand experience again and again. 

The other thing I've been wondering about is more complicated and isn't really a counter strategy at all: was the "wrong time" for me the "right time" for the majority of M&S customers? After the initial shock of thinking about Christmas in October was passed, I found myself wondering if it was me that was in the minority. There's actually only ten weeks of Christmas shopping left. That's a scary thought, but I guess some smart marketer knew that, and that October was the absolute right time to get people started on their planning. So basically, that premise that Marketing helps the consumer figure out what it is they want might genuinely be at play here…