Why Even Relevant Emails Can Sometimes Suck

By Adam Figueira

October 2, 2013

I like pizza (not as much as this guy, but still much more than a normal person).

As a subscriber to nearly every national pizza chain’s email list, I receive countless―and competing―messages that attempt to coax me into placing my next order from one pie slinger as opposed to another.

And it got me thinking. What influences my purchase decision more: a relevant email or a valuable one?

You see, there’s a big difference between the two. Relevant emails are authentic and accurate. By harnessing knowledge about the customer, along with the vendor’s own promotions calendar and the rules of the email campaign, relevant emails inform the customer of something that is, well, true.

On the other hand, valuable emails offer a benefit to the customer. Something, that if utilized, leaves everyone better off. In other words, valuable emails help your customers “win,” which means you, the marketer, also wins.

What does this have to do with pizza?

Last week, I received emails from two different pizza chains (click on them to see larger versions). In each of the emails that I received, the pizza chains apologized to me. The reasons for this differed (one because an offer expired, the other because I didn’t win a contest), but each apology represented a message that was true to its purpose―I can’t use an expired coupon any more than I can will myself to win prizes to which I’m not entitled.

Unos Email

pizza-hut In both cases, the emails were complete and utter failures.

To understand why, it’s important to concede that the goal of email isn’t always to produce a conversion. It is, however, to deepen your relationship with the customer. So how can you make this happen? The only way is through an engagement that delivers customer value.

A valuable email might extend a new offer, or at the least:

  • Include a “Did You Know?” fun fact about the company or its food
  • Illustrate the newest menu items
  • Show me the closest, or newest, locations
  • Invite me to a Happy Hour

My point? Delivering value doesn’t require email marketers to deliver something of measurable worth (such as a coupon) every time. It does, however, require email marketers to think about how to engage their customers in between the transactions that they make.

By definition, valuable emails are always relevant, but not all relevant emails deliver value. The next time you send a message to your customers, focus on the value you’re delivering to your customers and in serving the interest of having a mutually beneficial relationship with them.

Adam Figueira is a former product marketing director at Monetate.

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