The perils of email reliance

Do you over-rely on email for your customer communication? Does your customer’s retention journey begin and end in the email inbox?

We observe clients using, and perhaps abusing, email as the crux of their CRM communication stream.* The main reasons are cost and convenience. For example, a single email may cost pennies compared to direct mail, which may cost $0.40 - $0.50 per touch. Email also has a shorter development cycle so it can get to market faster.

mail is still an effective marketing channel
While email can certainly be effective, we caution clients not to cede the traditional mailbox entirely to the email inbox. One way we do this is by helping clients assess the original media through which the customer was acquired. Did they come via direct mail or search or digital? The original medium of acquisition may still hold special affinity for those customers. If you switch communications entirely to email, your message may be missed or tuned out.

Here is one telling example that underscores the peril of abandoning the mailbox. Our client was churning customers at an alarming rate even though it had a fairly robust customer email communication stream. We did an analysis comparing the ratio of customer communications via direct mail to the client’s competitors. We found a ratio of 1:93. That is, for every 1 piece of direct mail the client sent to its customers, competitors were sending 93. The client, in effect, was losing the share of mailbox to its competitors. Customers were bombarded each day with competitive messaging and being asked to switch providers.

We recommend using traditional direct mail and other 1:1 digital tactics like addressable digital, online billing portals, mobile apps or SMS/MMS to supplement email, creating a multipart, multimedia approach to CRM. By doing this, you create a more holistic and immersive brand experience for your customers and increase the chance that your messages will be seen.

*Caveat: If your customers tell you they prefer email, of course, you should honor those preferences. However, perhaps you can gain permission for MMS or SMS.