I’m going to spend the next couple of posts talking about the top email trends I predicated for 2005.
Last week, I saw an article questioning some of my predictions. Of course the greatest thing about blogsphere (and perhaps the reason it exists at all) is the ability to foster intelligent and professional debate.
In this case, the challenge came from my assertion regarding the “Power of the ‘From’ address.” My contention is that in a one-to-one world, email is a great way to finally break out of the “institution-to-many” mindset that is the legacy of 100 years of Mass Marketing.
Originally I was going to write about the statistics of opens and click-throughs, etc… Instead I’m choosing to write about Ron Richey.
First, you can follow this link to see the article challenging my assertions. The basic pushback came from the author’s idea that people would rather relate to a known “Brand”.
So now back to Ron. Ron lives in my town, and I know him enough to say “hi.” Our paths cross because his wife Paula is a parochial school youth director, his daughter babysat for us a few years ago, and his son just got a job in the athletic department of Notre Dame. (Congratulations)
Ron is a real live human being, whom I’m inclined to trust and admire. I think he is a good person. Ron is also the manager of a conveniently located Walgreens.
Walgreens, of course, is a well respected brand that I can trust to take care of all my pharma needs, offer a wide range of reasonably priced personal hygiene products, and will even develop my digital photos while I wait.
Across the road is a CVS. In addition to an equally convenient location, I perceive CVS to be equal in every other measure. Same drugs, same razor blades, same photo lab, same peanut M&M’s.
Do I ever shop there? Of course not. When the brand is equal (and most are) the difference is the people. Everyone says their people are great, but other than mass oriented generalities, how do you prove it?
This is the magic opportunity available only with email. Everything I know about Ron can be told in an email. And when I talk about the “from” side, I’m not just talking about the physical from address, but rather the entire topic and feel of the email.
Neither CVS or Walgreens are my clients. I’ve never seen an email from either of them (in spite of holding a loyalty card) and have no idea who their ESP's are.
But the great thing is that they have all the data they need to build a true one-to-one relationship with me. They know where I live and what my purchase data is, which helps them control the right side of the one-to-one relationship (the right side refers to the relevant content, for those just tuning in)
It also helps with the left side, which is the side that shows us the real human being behind the brand. We humans love humans. Can you imagine if my Walgreens email came from Ron and included a short story about how proud he was of his son’s accomplishment in landing a position in Notre Dame? Remember when a drug store and the pharmacist was part of a community…before it became a faceless brand?
Does anyone really doubt that we all would begin to feel more affinity to Ron and Walgreens the better we got to know him?