Goodwill messages can generate sales

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Here's a heretical notion: you can send non-promotional messages and still ring the cash register. For promotional marketers the idea of non-promotional messages borders on blasphemy. The idea that such messages might actually generate sales is baffling. Yet, savvy marketers regularly send non-promotional messages as part of a deliberate strategy to retain customers, build loyalty, and, yes, increase sales over the long term.

For the marketer focused completely on immediate promotions, such non-promotional mailings often are not even on their radar screens. Welcome messages, thank-yous, informational updates, reminders and more - what we call goodwill messages - are simple to send, easy to automate, and once set-up cost next to nothing. Yet they can sail through the mailbox clutter and generate increased revenue for years to come through repeat purchases by now loyal customers.

The key is the phrase for years to come. This is a long-term success strategy. A welcome message or thank you for your purchase won't likely bring customers racing back to buy more that day, but it will reinforce the idea that they made the right decision to shop with you and increase the likelihood they will make that same decision the next time.

Remember every marketer out there has them in their sights, trying to win them away from you. Only by establishing ongoing goodwill with them, even when they are not buying, can you increase the likelihood they will return as customers.

And the beauty of such goodwill messages is that they are quick and easy. These are basic messages. You don't need elaborate, costly creative. You don't have to build a fancy promotion. You can set it up so the messages to go out with no human involvement, triggered automatically by a purchase or an event or simply the change of the calendar. Out of all the promotional shouting your customers are subjected to, these simple, personal messages indeed stand out.

Goodwill messages follow one rule: send communications your customers want to receive at key times in their engagement cycles. When they have made a purchase, when they have joined your mailing list or frequent shoppers club, when seasonal cycles repeat as well as when events merit an announcement.

The hardest part of goodwill messaging is not only abandoning the temptation of what makes money, but without that immediate return, measuring the results. Unlike promotional messages where you can easily count how many widgets move in a given timeframe, with goodwill messaging you will have to take a long view. You will need to test them and track how many become repeat customers, how often they return, for how many years. Ultimately, we're talking about increasing the lifetime value of a customer.

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