Dear [Marketer], you may have missed an opportunity

Like most consumers, I belong to my share of loyalty programs and opt-in email lists. This means I’m interested in what those brands have to say. It means I’m engaged — to varying levels, depending on the brand.

It also means that those brands have the opportunity to increase my engagement with them. There are many ways to do this, of course. And that’s a conversation for another day. Some do engagement via direct channels well; others, not so well. What surprises me is when companies overlook the basics.

It’s relationship 101 to know that the sweetest words to anyone is their own name. If you have my name, and you’re a direct marketer, why don’t you use it? “Dear Valued Customer” on a thank-you note from a CMO via email is about engaging as “Resident” is via mail. (And, yes, I have received that very message from one of my favorite brands. Ugh.) If you actually value me, and you know my name — which is often the case with opt-in registration for email and loyalty programs — then use it. “Dear Ginger, We value you as a customer, so I wanted to personally thank you for your business.” It’s so simple.

If you don’t get the basics right, you’re not only overlooking an easy opportunity to build brand affinity — one that most customers have come to expect — but you’re also signaling that I’m not so valuable to you after all. Getting the basics consistently right over time is what lays the foundation for customer trust and loyalty. It’s hard to wow customers with an impersonal experience.

Ginger Conlon is editor-in-chief of Direct Marketing News.

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