This morning I received two emails that really sparked my curiosity because of the mixed feelings they caused me to experience as a user, from a state of admiration to a state of reproach.  Allow me to explain:

Yesterday I went online to peruse some Father’s Day presents.  I sifted through multiple gifting sites and looked up specific products that interested me onGoogle Product Search (which is pretty awesome).

This morning, I checked my email and one particular subject line stood out, it said: “Where did you go?  Come back…”.

The first question that came to mind in response was “how did they know I ever visited?”.  It took a little while to register with me since I didn’t login to their site, didn’t order anything and didn’t recall leaving any personal information.  I barely even stayed longer than 2 minutes!   I know that Google Analytics wouldn’t give them the necessary data to follow up with me so quickly because that would be illegal and understandably, I was more concerned than excited – despite the friendly message, the email just felt too smart and too personal.

It is possible that I wouldn’t have thought twice about this, if I didn’t find the subject line so…aggressive.  But then it registered with me, that I must have clicked through to their site from an email in my inbox (I just didn’t remember) and that this must have been the follow up email, targeting people that clicked through to the site.  A smart email, but not that smart, the email marketing tactic behind it was smarter, after all, this was a great attention grabbing subject line, that really communicated with me on a personal level and evoked an emotional response, granted I didn’t convert on their site, but I definitely noticed it.

There was another email in my inbox that really wanted to lure me back to the site.  This second email asked me if I “forgot something?” in the subject line.  I recognized the brand, and immediately thought that maybe I filled out a form and forgot something, it seemed urgent enough to skim through, so I opened this email only to get a visual of the product that I had abandoned in a shopping cart yesterday.

While this email did not seem as aggressive because I remembered browsing through this site the day before and it didn’t catch me as off guard, (and maybe it didn’t catch me as off guard because I almost commit to a purchase and initiated contact with this site), yet it still felt like it was stalking me with this reminder only 1 day later.

All in all, I think the above two are great examples of using email for customer relationship management from a marketing stand point.  These attention grabbing subject lines are becoming more and more colloquial, thus establishing themselves in the recipient’s mind, as having a relationship with them.  It is not just “brands” that you are a “fan” of that are giving themselves the right to communicate with you on a first name basis, but larger scale vendors are doing it too.

What they achieve is driving traffic back to their site and identifying their high interest clients, in the hopes of closing on prospective buyers; what you achieve is perhaps a friendly reminder that you had a need when you went searching for them in the first place.  It seems like a win-win situation, but the fine line lies in the language used, these “brands” must be careful not to turn their customers off with their language and persistence and start going into the spam folder due to creepiness.

A better example of how an email like this worked for both parties is one I received in the beginning of the week.   A vendor sent me an email with the subject line “Your birthday gift is here!”.   Of course I trusted this vendor because I had a “membership” card with them, so I expected for them to have my personal information.  I opened my email because who wouldn’t open it with that enticing subject line, and I was pleasantly surprised – I got an offer with no purchase necessary.  Skeptical at first, but curious.  Of course when I went to claim it, I ended up purchasing other things that caught my eye and probably spent more in total, but here it is clear that the vendor made an excellent marketing decision, they gave a sample size giveaway and profited in return.  On top of that, I was a lead that was high interest, I have been nurtured by them through email, I have been spoiled by them because they remembered my birthday = great relationship management, and I was incentivized by them to claim my free gift in store, which in turn made more profit for them and re-established our relationship.

There you have it, three different examples of SMART emails that from a user standpoint leave some questions to be asked regarding privacy and communication.  But from a marketing stand point are all part of extremely successful email campaigns.