Asking the right questions: eMail and the customer experience by Scott Cohen @scottcohen13


Imagine yourself as the customer of your business. How do you expect your experience to go? How would you feel if each method of contact with you (TV, email, direct mail, etc.) was different from the next? So much so that it created confusion—a cognitive dissonance, if you will—enough of a disconnect that you’re left scratching your head, wondering why you’re getting an email from your sales rep a day after speaking with them on the phone about the same topic?

It’s not good, is it? With email marketing, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your messages are not matching up with the customer experience if you look at them in “the vacuum.”


Questions to ask if you’re a marketer:

If you can—and time allows—construct a diagram of how each medium hits your prospective customers. Map it by days or even hours if you can. Then put it aside and start asking questions:


  • If I were the customer, how would I want to be communicated with?
  • What do I want to use email for? For transactions only? For nurturing a relationship? For contests and fun asides?
  • What kind of presence do I want to have using social media? Do I want to be reactive or out there in the populace becoming (as Chris Brogan says) “One of Us?”

Questions to ask your client (current or prospective) if you’re an ESP:

Speaking from a client perspective, I know it’s easy for you ESPs to do your one thing—email marketing—well. And likely, the clients you get are only going to ask you for the one service you do well.


Don’t fall into that trap. Ask the right questions:


  • What is your typical customer lifecycle?
  • How would you like to improve it?
  • How do you communicate with your customers now?
  • How do you anticipate email marketing falling into your communications cycle with your customers? Where do you see our services falling into that cycle?
  • What other mediums are you using?
  • How do you anticipate the work we do together affecting those media and your ultimate communication plan?

The bottom line is you need to make sure you’re not perpetuating with your clients the silo way of thinking. Your clients will appreciate that you care about their customers and their bottom line, not just yours. Remember that scene in “Miracle of 34th Street” where the Santa sends the worried parents over to another store to get the cheaper product? And how that action ultimately boosted Macy’s bottom line?

To both marketers and their agencies:

Takeaway: Create the experience your customers want. It’ll go a long way toward your bottom line.

Meet the author:

Scott Cohen

Scott Cohen

Scott Cohen is a writer, thinker, and marketer. Well-versed in and raised on local/regional TV and radio commercial writing, Scott has expanded his interests, talent, and expertise into the full spectrum of marketing communications, including email marketing. Currently, Scott works for Western Governors University as their Marketing Copywriter, where he manages the creative for the university’s email, web, print, and direct mail communications. He writes his own blog, contributes to others, and is continually getting more and more involved in the email marketing space. When not spending probably too much of his time on blogs or Twitter, Scott’s busy with his wife and newborn daughter living in beautiful snowy Utah.

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