Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The “Golden Rule” of retail marketing is the same as in regular, everyday life - treat others well.
A great way to describe this is “helpful marketing.”
It’s the idea that you should help and guide customers to make the best purchase decisions through marketing.
Why would they ever buy it if you don’t offer something attractive, relevant, or interesting that helps your customer?
Helpful marketing requires that you truly know your customers, what they want and need, and how to present it in an ideal way for each customer.
Here are three things your brand needs to know to implement a “helpful marketing” strategy at scale.
Customers are people, too.
Sometimes, we forget that customers on the other end of marketing communications are real people and that your business has a real relationship with them.
This relationship is super personal; subscribers have let you into their lives. You can connect with them on their devices.
That’s a great reason to think about what you say - if it’s relevant and helpful - before you say it to them.
It’s a wise saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It is especially true in email marketing because you can significantly affect your deliverability and a high-ROI revenue stream with it.
Understand that what helps one customer may not help another.
Since we’ve established that customers are real people, let’s take that a step further. Real people are really different from one another.
It means that what’s helpful for one person may be a hindrance to another. In the world of email, this could manifest itself in how customers react to frequencies of email communications.
Some might love the constant contact and product recommendations, while others might find it annoying and make them unsubscribe (again harming your deliverability).
It’s challenging to do this at scale, but the more granular and individualized the data, the easier it becomes.
It is especially the case when you use machine learning as the brain and engine behind your email marketing. Brands like the Gap, Bloomingdale’s, and L.L. Bean are great examples of retailers that do this well and capitalize on the data customers provide.
Once you know someone, select what’s best for them.
Think about the people in your life. Who do you know best?
More than likely, the people you know well are the ones you’ve known for a long time, spent a lot of time with, or those who share a lot of information with you.
Now think about what it’s like buying a gift for them. The one mistake many of us make, especially around the holidays, is buying something that the recipient already owns.
But if you know someone well, you should know what they have and or like. You can make smart purchases because you know who they are, what they like, and what they need.
Email marketers need to think about their customers in the same way. Customers may often receive product recommendations through email that show them the things they’ve already purchased. That isn’t helpful for the customer or the retailer.
By using the data provided by customers and treating customer relationships like what they are - relationships - you can make product recommendations that are personalized and accurate.
Knowledge is power; that’s the bottom line. It is essential to know your customers well so you can better serve them.
In email marketing, engagement and conversions are propelled by personalized content and reflect their needs, interests, and buying habits.
Position yourself as a guide and concierge rather than a brand simply looking to make sales.
Helpful marketing is simply doing what’s in the best interests of customers.
Are you interested in learning more about helpful marketing? Check out the recent podcast episode with Jed Schneiderman, who is a champion of the concept.