It’s a tough world out there capturing new clients. Managers around the world will talk about business in warlike terms: killing the competition, grabbing market share, digging up reserves… It is no surprise that, after years of “war,” many executives have a difficult time reconciling their ingrained lessons learned from years of successful management with the new requirements and skills such as listening, empathy, coaching and collaboration. This is no more clearly apparent than in the fight for email newsletter databases.
One of the hot topics in board rooms around the world is customer centricity. If your company is talking about it, you are not alone. In a poll in the UK, 46% of the 300 companies surveyed by Incite Marketing cited customer centricity as one of their top strategic priorities in 2013. Yet, what does being customer centric look like? Is it possible to say that someone like Steve Jobs was customer centric when you know that it was always “his way or the highway?” In terms of Jobs’ ability to understand completely the user experience, one can safely say that he created some of the world’s most customer-centric products. But, for most companies run by leaders and mere mortals who often struggle to balance the need for short-term results (warding off shareholder pressure) and the desire for loyal, long-term clients, the challenge and necessary change can be herculean.
One of my observations is that many executives seem to leave their “personal” selves behind when they go through the office doors to make business decisions. The email sign-up process for newsletters is a case in point. Let’s start with a quick poll for you:
To what extent do you like to be automatically signed up by a brand or company for their newsletter? (i.e. without your permission)? (0= hate it, 10= love it)? Please click on this link for a speedy quiz! (Just one question!)
Meanwhile, in a study last year, conducted the folks at Baymard Institute (link to podcast with founder Christian Holst), 81% of the top grossing eCommerce sites had a policy of automatically including people in their mailing lists. It’s crazy that the very same individuals who, typically, don’t like to have other companies sign them up automatically are prepared to inflict such treatment on their own customers. Even Amazon does it, only giving light to its underhand manner in the small print in Conditions of Use.
CRM – with C for customer in the middle
Building newsletter email lists is one of the vital arms in a marketer’s repertoire. The newsletter is a real asset that can be considered “owned” media. However, as free and easy as an email might be send, companies and marketers, in particular, have an unassaible tendency to abuse it. There seem to be very few self-imposed controls. The marketing manager, keen to perform in front of the boss, makes the email sign up automatic and no one in the organization steps up to defend the customer. It’s gotcha marketing, as if the intention is to ensnare. Too often, the consumer feels more as they he/she is being cornered rather than having someone in the brand defending the consumer’s corner. The question for you is: who in the organization is fighting in the customer’s corner?