Email marketing is a cost-effective tool, but as marketers overdo it they risk long-term brand damage
■BY MAUREEN MORRISON firstname.lastname@example.org
COUNTLESS CIRCULARS AND credit-card
pitches stuff mailboxes. An unrelenting
amount of emails—from daily deals to
sales announcements to of-the-month
clubs—clog inboxes. Text messages look
like spam. Social-media feeds swell with
offers. The phone constantly rings with
cold calls from telemarketers.
Even as databases become more
sophisticated and direct more targeted,
many companies cling to a nasty habit
of blasting unwanted messages to consumers. They call it marketing.
Consumers call it annoying.
Chad White, director-research and
development at Responsys, a digital
direct-marketing agency, said that most
consumers view their personal email
addresses and mobile phones as person-
al property. “Violating that space ticks
people off, no question.”
But marketers have compelling rea-
son to do so: It’s cheap and delivers high
return on investment. Email typically
costs a marketer a fraction of a cent to
send, and is far less expensive than tra-
ditional direct mail.
of consumers believe
companies gain from
information, but 74%
feel they don’t receive
a benefit for having
shared their data.
number of emails the
will get from a single
company this year.
A CUSTOMER SERVICE
CHANNEL OF CHOICE?
In a tale of two airlines, Southwest depends on its
people while Delta increasingly ramps up tech ■ BY KUNUR PATEL email@example.com
A SOUTHWEST AIRLINES employee spent
so much time with a sick child on a
flight that he’s now best friends with the
boy’s father. When another flier called
to book a flight to get treatment for cancer, an employee donated one of his own
buddy passes to make the trip happen.
This is the level of customer care
that’s made Southwest the gold standard for service in an industry known
more for layering on fees and stripping
away amenities. The airline has received
the lowest rate of complaints per U.S.
passenger as reported to the
Department of Transportation since the
agency began tracking customer satisfaction in 1986. And that’s because of
people—Southwest’s own people.
Founder Herb Kelleher has been known
to say it’s not customers that come first
at his company, it’s his employees.
But the future of customer service in
the airline industry may well be devoid
of the warm, smiling employees that
have been core to Southwest’s strategy.
Instead, the industry is looking to websites and apps—technology that guarantees customers won’t have to
encounter humans on their trips at all.
“You can theoretically get through
the airport without talking to a person,”
said airline industry analyst Helane
Becker, director of Dahlman Rose & Co.
“People regard that as a really good
security to catch a
instructed to keep an eye
out for those red-in-the-
face customers. Once
spotted, Southwest employ-
ees are supposed to approach and reas-
sure them, said Teresa Laraba, senior
more tools “takes
the anxiety out of
travel,” said Bob
Gate agents reassure
said Teresa Laraba.