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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You planned to crush your customers this holiday season…but are you planning to keep them?

Just a few short years ago, the phrase “Cyber Monday” was utterly meaningless. For millions of American families, Cyber Monday was a quiet day set aside for backyard football and leftovers. But with the rise of the Internet and advent of the digital deal, it has become a critically important date for retailers and also – surprise, surprise – the most active email marketing day of the year.

For many marketers, planning for Cyber Monday begins a year in advance as part of a budget. They need to create campaigns, develop ads, approve designs and scrub lists in advance of the big push. Unfortunately, far fewer marketers make room in the planning process for preference management initiatives designed to keep the very customers they will bombard.
And the seasonal bombardment is spectacular: Retail Marketing Blog reports that major online retailers sent each of their subscribers an average of 5.3 promotional emails during the five-day period beginning on Thanksgiving and ending on Cyber Monday, an 18 percent increase over the same period last year.

So what happens when the emails are opened, the tryptophan wears off and the deals are expired? Opt-out season begins. Flooded with more marketing messages than ever before, consumers seek to gain control of their digital lives by regulating and eliminating the unnecessary noise.

The key to maintaining relationships with customers after the holiday season lies in your company’s ability to understand and honor their preferences. Here are three simple preference management starting points to consider as you plan for 2014:
  1. Offer opt-down functionality in your email marketing: Instead of presenting customers with an all-or-nothing engagement, give them the power to tailor communications to suit their interests. Offering an opt-down option drastically reduces opt-outs and helps marketers focus messaging on topics of interest.
  2. Install a website preference center: Create an easy-to-use portal where customers can create individual profiles, select topics of interest, preferred delivery channels and pace of communications.  Preference centers provide the ability for customers to maintain their preferences as their interests change over time.
  3. Connect the preference center to all customer touchpoints: Now that you have a preference center in place, propagate it to every interaction point between brand and customer, such as mobile, social media, in-store, contact center and more. Each touchpoint represents an important opportunity to listen to customers and learn from what they select and say.
Approaching preference management as a series of actionable steps makes it easier to plan and earn organizational buy-in. Cyber Monday is approaching and with it comes the avalanche of seasonal marketing messages. Take time right now to plan for the holiday hangover that is sure to follow.  

Trey Suter is the Enterprise Business Development Manager - Compliance & Education at PossibleNOW.

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