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Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM

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As a marketer, you’ve spent tons of effort getting consumers to a point of purchase and convincing them to follow through with a sale. But what happens after­ward? Sure, if it’s an online sale, you send them a confir­mation email —but if you stop there, you’re missing out on the biggest opportunities with an engaged customer. Worse still, if you begin sending them irrelevant one-size-fits-all offer email every day, you’re on the verge of losing the trust you’ve worked so hard to build with this customer.

About six months ago I bought an ultrabook from the online store of a major PC brand. Thinking these major brands should have mastered the basic rules of customer engagement, I “opted in” to receive their email newsletter. Lo and behold, I’ve been receiving blanket “special promotion” email every other day since then.


By definition, relationship marketing is about getting to the heart of cultivating an apprecia­tive dialog with your customers. The hope is that by reaching cus­tomers at a peak moment of posi­tive sentiment for your brand —after receipt of their purchase —you can continue the conversation with a customer who is engaged, interested, and satis­fied. With a strategic approach, you can solicit critical feedback, build upon the relationship, and gain “earned social media” that can drive additional revenue and other benefits associated with word-of-mouth marketing.

(Particularly for PC brands, what’s the likelihood for a cus­tomer who has purchased an ul­trabook this week to buy another laptop again in the next three months? Rather than drowning this customer in endless “buy now” emails, following up with tips and tricks to optimize per­formance or soliciting their feed­back on social media platforms would definitely lead to a much richer customer experience.)


By the same token, if potential customers are so interested in your brand that they opt in to participate in a program or receive emails from you, please value these relationships. The first thing is to leverage your experience and learnings with your current (happy) custom­ers to build a model contact strategy to lead your potential customers down the purchase path. What are the brand driv­ers—emotional and rational? How to best service them? What other information do they need to make the purchase decision? Which channel is best for delivery of the right message at the right time? No doubt, especially in a bear­ish economy, marketers are pressured to come up with the most direct solutions to gener­ate revenue and boost quarterly earnings. And yes, it will take a little bit of work to get a true social-CRM program started. But given a little time, the benefits will certainly outweigh the effort—both in sales conver­sions and customer satisfaction. Done correctly, a sophisticated relationship-marketing program can turn existing (and even potential) customers into brand ambassadors and drive signifi­cant incremental revenue.


Yes, you might think you are running a very efficient email-direct program with millions of emails sent and thousands of clicks to your e-commerce site every month. What you didn’t realize was what the relation­ships you could have built with your customers and the long-term viral effects of their reviews and referrals would have brought to your brand and your bottom line.

Laura Lee is Group Account Director in the San Francisco of­fice of Anthem Worldwide, part of the brand development division of Schawk, Inc. Contact Laura at