Adventures in Mobile Marketing

The Triumvirate

I think marketers get caught up in the details of the campaigns sometimes. Once in a while, we have to sit back and focus on the triumvirate: that is, the three most essential things, that, if working in harmony, create kickass email campaigns that have very high conversions.

This triumvirate is undisputed:

  • timeliness
  • personalization
  • the offer

Every time I’m at a client site and we review the campaigns, and how they’ve done, the ones on top are always the ones that fit those three characterizations. We want more revelations and complex findings! It’s like going to the doctor and she tells us that we need to sleep more, or get more exercise. Throw out the Zone diet, you just need to eat more veggies.

The best example of the triumvirate? Birthday campaigns. Timely? Yes, if you email the person immediately on their birthday. Personal? Yes, very, if you address them “Anna, Happy Birthday!” I mean, who doesn’t like Denny’s free meal on your birthday? And no need to get more personal and add their age. The offer- some acknowledgement that this is your Special Day is always appreciated.


For most companies, getting the date of birth stored into systems can be challenging- especially if there is no reason for the company to get their customers’ birthdays. The privacy issues entailed, may make this an impossible campaign.

Most companies already do seasonal email campaigns, but there are events to use. The Democratic Party has a great email marketer on their staff. I get responses directly after the State of the Union, or some news tidbit about a recent Republican goof-up.

Besides generic social events, you should definitely target customers on a basis of their interactions with you. More and more companies are also muddying the distinct divide between operational or customer service messages with marketing messages (note: CANSPAM warning). So based on any transaction with the customer, messages or error messages, notices, etc. is an opportunity to interact with them and upsell/cross-sell or engage. The heightened involvement is rewarding to both the marketer and the customer. “We’ve noticed you haven’t shopped here recently- we have a new spring line” or “Due to a change in policy we won’t be doing xyz, but stop on by for our new abc.” Whereas, a few years ago it may have been “We regret to inform you we are moving.” or “Your account is inactive.” Some of my favorite emails and campaigns are these such notices: Yelp sends out a “You have a compliment!” (who doesn’t like to receive that in their email?) or a dating site will say there is a comment on your board. Amazon tells me when an favorite author publishes a new book. These are cute little messages that are noticing behaviors- and there are alerts, which you can deactivate, but the default is activated. Brilliant.


This is a delicate area for marketers, as you don’t want to skeaze them out, but you want to show you are personally addressing them. I like the example of future marketing in the movie Minority Report- where he walks into a Gap-like store and is addressed from some PA system by a Japanese name. That basically happened to me in China- I walked into a western wear shop and heard over the PA in Mandarin, “Some westerners are shopping at the western store!” So you have to be careful and not creep out your audience.

One clear way to avoid this (besides the vague “skeaze” factor!) is by dealing with the person with information relevant to the transaction. “You’ve bought golden koi before.” At HomeGrocer/WebVan (RIP), a brilliant campaign would email me saying, “Anna, you’ve purchased beets before. We’re having a winter vegetable sale next week, swing on by.” So that has accomplished so much- relevantly targeted me with information that I am clearly OK with you having. In this way, as well, marketing is less foisting unwanted goods as helping me shop.

The Offer

Traditional marketers were guilty, perhaps, of focusing exclusively on this. Now, us techno-brats downplay the offer in place of the above two, to an unfair degree. The offer- “free shipping!” – is seductive in its simplicity. You can sit in executive meetings and talk about offers and everybody knows, because this was sales and marketing in the 50s. Now, we have a lot more complexity… CRM, SEO, RFM… and yet it still happens, companies spend a lot of money on a big, base drop (the entire opted-in base) without an appealing offer.

One way to solidly test offers (and this could be several posts in itself) is to create similar segments and test various offers. 5,000 per segment, given each a slightly different offer- if your internal systems can manage that. The joke amongst a few clients is “free shipping”- which acquires a ton of customers & leads but rarely makes sense from a cost basis. I think to myself, when Black Friday hits, that if enough retailers are doing free shipping, it is a sad season, indeed. Here is a great offer: Amazon £0.02 on £100,000 spent. Brilliant!

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Written on Thursday, 22. March 2007 at 18:16 In the category Basics. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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