Use Email Targeting and Marketing Automation: Keep Customers Instead of Running Them Off

Use Email Targeting and Marketing Automation: Keep Customers Instead of Running Them Off

By: Guest
December 6, 2013

email targetingAs I read Shelly’s recent post recounting her frustrating customer service experience with retailer Hanna Andersson, I was of course struck by the company’s unwillingness to take the simple steps to retain her business. As a digital marketer, however, I was even more shocked by how such a fundamental mistake caused the whole mess in the first place. Hanna Andersson brought this upon itself.

Shelly was a perfectly happy customer. She wasn’t chasing promotional pricing or trying to chase an elusive great deal. She just bought some stuff. Had Hanna Andersson not made a basic mistake in its customer relationship management and e-mail strategy, there would be no story to tell.

Instead, they actively gave Shelly a reason to be frustrated. They trigged the costly engagement of their customer service team, who failed to handle the situation appropriately, and then lost a customer in the process.

By sending a promotional e-mail offering free shipping the morning after she’d paid for shipping, the company was effectively sending a targeted, intentional message that might as well have read “you should have gotten a better deal.”

She tried. An arbitrary few hours made them choose not to extend the promotion to her, and this premium brand provided cut-rate service. It was an understandably unsatisfactory interaction that should have never happened.

When Shelly opted into future communications with her purchase, Hanna Andersson was given great email targeting ability with the power to reach her inbox. Had they been more strategic, they could have leveraged that privilege to win repeat business. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot.

Marketing automation requires strong data and strategy to break through with relevance, and consumers are continually trading their data for personalized experiences. Marketers can build a rich profile of their customers, and provide really great targeted messaging that their customers welcome.

Short of that, Hanna Andersson should have at least started by suppressing promotions going to customers that just bought the same products being promoted, and not kick-starting the road to e-mail fatigue by hitting them up 12 hours after their last transaction.

In this case, Hanna Andersson had all the data they needed to avoid this situation. They just failed to use it. They treated Shelly like an anonymous prospect, without considering the context of her purchase less than a day earlier, or any of the many other characteristics they could have learned from her transaction.

In an age where retailers are conditioning consumers to always wait for a better deal in a constant cycle of promotions, Shelly is the most valuable kind of customer to have. She just buys stuff when she wants it. They knew the circumstances of her purchase, and should have handled her communications more strategically.

Instead, they lost her.

That’s a strange thing to accomplish with your marketing strategy.

photo credit: via photopin cc

Matt Staub

Matt Staub is a Partner at Graphicmachine, a Full-Service Branding and Digital Marketing Agency in Kansas City. He has over a decade of experience in project management, social media strategy, and digital marketing with brands like Sprint and H&R Block, and really likes to eat pizza.


  • Sandhya Ramesh

    There’s an important takeaway here- having a dedicated department, or at least personnel for marketing automation. More often than not, MA is just allocated to one person who is a content creator or in another role. This causes a lot of problems because the person might not understand the existing lead scoring system fully or know when to tap leads at the right time. They might come up with great content, but not a good enough subject line. Many of these problems are consistent, and omnipresent. That’s why, when we provide demos to customers and help them use Agile CRM, we always recommend a department or an exclusive person to handle MA. This often ensures that we have more happy Shellys than any other kind of customer.

  • ShellyKramer

    While I appreciate the logic there, Sandhya, my experience working with clients is that having a dedicated department (and a budget to fund that) is often a pipe dream.

    And even small companies can (and should) integrate some kind of marketing automation into what they’re doing. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does have to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing :))

    *Shelly Kramer*

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  • Sandhya Ramesh

    I agree. Even if there can’t be a department, there should be at least one person who knows what they’re doing.

  • Zain Jeewanjee

    Many don’t realize the importance of your language and behavior patterns across the company. For example the senior marketing director may have a certain style of engaging with the customer. This style may not be reflected in all campaigns and feeds across the company. There are a few software companies that use Witty to do just that.

  • ShellyKramer

    I’ve not heard of that Zain. Will have to check it out.

  • Zain Jeewanjee

    Did you check out Witty Parrot ?