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Are You Engaging? 5 Ways to Keep Customer and Prospect Attention While You Have It

by: Alyssa Opella (@IBMforMarketing)
25 February 2013

For many of the companies I work with, reactivation is a hot topic, with marketers wondering if a re-engagement campaign is the next big initiative they should put into place.

My advice is to make sure you don’t put the cart before the horse. Often, the effort dedicated toward trying to get subscribers to notice you again would better spent working to maintain their attention while you have it. Before you implement a re-engagement campaign, then, first make sure you’re using all the tools at your disposal to maintain engagement.

Here are five ways to ensure you keep customer and prospect attention while you have it, plus a few tips on re-engaging customers once you’ve taken the other steps outlined here:

1) Welcome Series
Engagement starts with a quality welcome series. It’s amazing that in this day and age, one third of U.S. largest retails still don’t have a welcome email. Simply put, if you’re not doing this, you’re missing a key opportunity to connect.

Your subscribers are most engaged the first 40 days post sign-up. Take advantage of this time. Tell them everything you want them to know about you and ask everything you want to know about them. As you get more ambitious, you can move from a welcome email to a welcome series or onboarding program, using the recipient’s behaviors (e.g. email clicks and Web pages visited) to determine what content they receive.

2) Personalization and Dynamic Content
Next, focus on relevance within your existing program. In other words: segmentation, personalization and dynamic content. Speak to them directly and as relevant as you’re able to, using their behaviors, demographics and preferences to determine what content you send them.

You can slice your list in many ways, such as your loyal customers vs. first-time buyers vs. prospects, male vs. female, geography, age range, product interests, etc. Try to tailor the offers given, products suggested, timing of the mailings, etc. by the segments your customers are in. If you’re relevant to your subscribers within your ongoing mailings, they will be more prone to STAY engaged.

3) Automation
Once you’re comfortable using dynamic content to deliver more individualized messages, the next step is automation. Leverage programs and automated mailings to ensure you’re getting the right messages out at the right time. Automated messages and campaigns you may want to incorporate into your messaging mix include birthday, anniversary, pre- and post- purchase emails, dropped cart, browse abandonment, etc.

4) Monitoring Engagement and Scoring
Now that you’re using the tools at your disposal to deliver the right message at the right time, make sure you monitor engagement. But don’t just monitor by how many people opened in the past 30, 60, 90 days. Take it deeper. Look at your contacts’ email and site interaction, and consider leveraging scoring to identify changes in engagement based on individuals’ typical recency and frequency. This will enable you to get in front of customers AS their attention is fading rather than AFTER they unengaged.

5) Re-Engagement
OK, now it’s time to look at is re-engagement. What do you do after the subscriber has stopped paying attention?  Do you make an offer?  Do you ask them to click a link to stay in your list, and if you do, will that really re-engage them? Or maybe instead you invite them to update their preferences?

If they don’t do anything, what do you do then? And if they do something, how do you maintain the momentum? There are a lot of factors to think through. And really, it’s a lot of work to get a small group re-engaged, which is why it should be a secondary priority after getting and maintaining the attention of your subscribers.

The answers will vary based on your company, product and the subscribers (e.g., former purchasers versus the result of an acquisition effort). I suggest starting light – just ask for preference updates and remind inactives of the value of your email and product. Build out a “Welcome Back” campaign from there to re-enter them into your population. Within this messaging track or program, you can update them on what’s new with the company, apply some very relevant dynamic content, refer to their changed interests, etc.

It’s not easy to keep attention, but it’s well worth the effort. Not only is it more cost-effective to keep a customer than acquire a new one, but you have an opportunity to create a loyal follower and advocate. While it may sound like a lot of work, it can all be accomplished through automated mailings, dynamic content and behaviorally triggered emails, meaning you can put a lot of it on autopilot. Don’t you wish all relationships were that easy?

Related Resources:
1) Video: “Onboarding Programs: Transitioning from a single welcome message to a dynamic multi-message format
2) Blog: “Your Blueprint for a Birthday Email Program
3) White Paper: “The Ultimate Guide to Scoring Customers and Prospects


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