Mailing lists as part of customer service

    Small letters disclaimer: the author understands the soreness of the topic of mass mailing. The article is written for a professional reader who considers email to be an ethical means of communicating business with a client, but realizes that the topic is littered with “effective marketers” (they are spammers), and therefore he is extremely careful in his movements in the area of ​​e-mail marketing.

    Why do clients perceive some letters as spam, and others as useful reminders? What should be the letters that help people buy? Which mailing list errors as a client service are excusable and which are fatal? Let's look at the cases and discuss the pros and cons of solutions.

    Over the past few years, even the most highly moral Internet businesses have moved from a policy of “We Will Never Send Letters to Our Customers” to much more calm formulations. They send out as pretty ones - all or almost all.

    From an economic point of view, this is (for now) beneficial to almost everyone: click on the button - send the text - get an increase in sales. Someone knows more "chips" - and recounts a gold coin after each mailing. Someone figitsit how at random at random - but also usually remains unprofitable.

    But you can’t deceive the harsh business laws: if money appears almost from the air (but for now this is still the case), it means that some irreplaceable resource is exploited in the process of their delivery.

    What kind of resource is this, who does it belong to, and is it worth it to be exploited blindly?

    There is an assumption (which is considered in this article) that this irreplaceable and mercilessly exploited resource is the mental balance of users. Their credulity and even naivety. Their readiness for communications. Their focus of attention. Their consent to consume and digest eye-catching information.

    The exploitation of this resource in itself is not such a dirty thing. This is known to entire crowds of offline personalities, from hitchhikers to MLM cosmetics traders, from newspaper sellers in electric trains to street musicians.

    Somewhere in this series is not too solid, but it’s not that completely shameful activities are worth e-mail marketing. And, as in all of the above activities, in e-mail marketing a lot depends on the mood in which a person comes into contact with you - and in which one he will come out.

    Managing customer emotions is part of customer service. So, when working with clients through e-mail, it would be nice to know the rules for providing a good service. Ideally, it would be nice to use them as well.

    It would seem that here it’s time for us to start talking about “chips” and “tricks” that will help to position the user. Make a pink background in the letter - and immediately the girls will melt, something like that.

    But no, the notorious "chips" will not. Firstly, they are already clogged with the whole Internet to their very ears. Secondly, even the best "tricks" will render the recipient only a disservice, if you do not understand the main thing. Well, and thirdly, the core of your e-mail marketing would be, and the “tricks” are already easy to apply.

    Let's focus on the main thing. Namely, on the problem that each of us deals with daily. And as a pro, and as a private person. Here it is, this problem:

    People consider even letters that are sincerely written to make life easier for them as spam.

    Suppose you write an honest and open letter to a narrow group of your clients, where you invite them to a free party with oysters and champagne - but they do not trust you. But you really conceived such a party! Something went wrong ... What?

    Let's get it right.

    What is considered spam?

    If you ask people what letters they consider to be spam, we’ll hear about the following:
    • I work, and then this garbage comes. Distracting!
    • My mail is my castle. I did not call any advertisers into my personal space!
    • Damn, immersed in a letter, spent a lot of time, but why?
    • Yesterday they wrote, well, as much as you can!
    • Why will I read about how great their company is?
    • Boorish treatment, a letter with errors - yes they are fucked up!
    • They wrote some nonsense, why do I need diapers?
    • It infuriates that I read them (at least the subject of the letter), and they won’t hear me.
    • Me, ME put on a par with another million recipients?
    • It’s unpleasant that I am rushed to make a decision.
    • I don’t need it anymore, but they write everything ...
    • The train left, before it was necessary to inform!
    • Why are they talking to me as if I owe something?

    Perhaps the list goes on. But let's stop at this for now. Take a breath. Breathe out. And we understand that in this particular case, a person speaks not about objective reality, but about his emotions. Which means he's damn right!

    Once again, slowly: the client has the right to emotions. And if he has already shown them, it means that one of the triggers of the negative reaction has worked.
    1. Writing has become a distraction.
    2. Writing is perceived as an invasion of personal space.
    3. Sudden or complex content devours attention.
    4. There are simply too many letters from one author.
    5. Rejection of the self-position (selfishness) of the sender.
    6. Crony and careless communication.
    7. The stupidity and clumsiness of artificial intelligence.
    8. One-player game, monologue instead of dialogue.
    9. Feeling "I am faceless, I am in the crowd."
    10. Gypsy is an attempt to put pressure to make a decision.
    11. The letter is perceived as a "letter from the former."
    12. The letter was late, "the train left."
    13. Writing is perceived as an attempt at manipulation.

    Well, is it impressive? And now all this together - and a shit, we have before us such a hefty Dnieper, which not every bird will fly over.

    Interestingly, the emotional assessment of writing arises instantly. Perhaps in a split second. Only autistic engineers try to read and understand something there with the mind - normal people just explode with emotion and sentence your letter, and at the same time you to a life ban.

    To the "chips" here, think for yourself?

    Let's look at the user in the inbox

    Let's conduct an experiment on living people - let's see what kind of letters they, in fact, receive. Of course, we are only interested in bulk and / or automatic mailings, not personal correspondence.

    Naturally, it is rather difficult to calculate the average temperature in a hospital. To whom how much correspondence comes is a very individual matter.

    However, emotionally assessing this correspondence, on the contrary, is quite easy. One has only to look from the point of view of the recipient - and everything becomes clear.

    The fact is that with each individual letter, the recipient must act in a certain way. These images, in fact, are two.
    1. Something to do right now. Go to the site, call, forward, etc.
    2. Do something later. Read, buy, show to the wife, etc.

    That's all. Now or later. Yes, just like that.

    And now there will be an ambush.

    What do you think people usually prefer?

    Yes, that was a trick question. Yes, it seems that all people are different and everyone has their own preferences. Yes, it all depends - seemingly - on the content of the letter. But no.

    Sociologists tormented, tormented and proved an interesting law, which (in a simplified, of course, version) sounds like this:

    If a person needs to choose between options A and B, he refuses to choose.

    That is, you understand what a thing, any - any! - the letter puts a person in a situation where he would prefer that this letter does not exist. No letter - no need to make a decision. In spam, in a basket, anywhere - the recipient struggles with the fact of the existence of the letter, and not with its content. Many just do not read mail - scary.

    Yes, it seems that a trifle. But it seems so to us. For people who spend 5-10 minutes just going to their inbox, each letter twists their hands. And to make a decision for them is painfully difficult.

    And for people on whom letters are scattered hundreds in a day, on the contrary, it’s painfully easy to click the “Into spam” button. Just give me a reason.

    But I don’t give a reason, so what are they?

    Look, we have already found out that everyone is absolutely everyone! - The letter falls under the presumption of guilt. Either prove that you, dear little letter, are worthy of making a decision on your case — or die, miserable, do not callus.

    Let's classify the entire stream of what we have already seen in the inbox. Exclusively from the point of view of the user and his interests. Different options are possible here, but we restrict ourselves to the classical 2x2 matrix and isolate 4 types of mass mailings.
    1. Office letters. The user does something (for example, registers on the site), and in the process of work he receives mail.
    2. Information letters. Letters that the user does not mind reading, because in general he is interested (albeit somewhat passively) in their content.
    3. Pushing letters. The user started to do something, but interrupted. And, in general, I do not mind continuing (for example, using the service), but an external impetus is needed.
    4. Spam in its purest form. The user is not interested, is not involved in the process, and generally accidentally fell under the distribution.

    That's all. It also looks pretty simple, right? Wait, it's only the beginning.

    We scatter these four types in a 2x2 matrix and see what happens.

    Vertical - the axis of involvement: does the user remember the context, is he trying to do something in connection with the main subject of the letter, is he ready for action right now.

    Horizontal - axis of speed: how fast the user is ready to act.

    It’s easier, but I’ll remind you that our goal is to pass (along with the recipient of the letter) over the emotional threshold “Yes, you go to hell with your spam!”.

    But this threshold can be smoothed out, in fact, only in one way: send letters that the user recognizes and perceives as simplifying (but not complicating) the decision.

    But the user's decisions are laid out on the same 2x2 matrix: do I want to do something and am I ready to do it right now. On the same matrix!

    Wait, so what's coming out? But a simple thing comes out: if the user is in the very state in which the letter relies, then the letter is perceived not as spam, but as a service! As part of the service. As a hint. Like a cheat sheet. Like a crutch when making a decision. In short, like a useful thing.

    And do you not give a reason?

    And let's face it again. The simple and understandable truth.

    When we looked at the Inbox ...

    Stop, did you look at it too? Fifteen hundred letters is enough to figure it out on your own. Please do not be lazy, otherwise it will turn out that you take my word for where it suits.

    So, when we looked at the Inbox, we classified the letters from the user's point of view. And this is completely, completely not the same as classifying them from the point of view of the sender.

    It is clear that senders, consciously or intuitively, seek to mask one type of message under another - from their point of view, it is easier to pass an emotional spam threshold. But as a result of this attempt to “cut the corner”, both business and customers receive a bouquet of deception, self-deception and manipulation, from which the threshold only catastrophically increases.

    We state this simpler:

    Spam is a subjective concept: the client considers spam anything that does not help him make a decision in his specific situation.

    Disguising one type of letter as another increases the spam threshold for a particular letter (and reduces the service orientation of the business as a whole). That is why, incidentally, decent companies are very, very cautious about mass mailings: in case of an error, the blow does not hit the letter, but the brand.

    It is clear that a service-oriented company is simply forced to ensure that it does not mask information letters as service letters, and service letters as pushing ones. And certainly it cannot in any way under all "decent" masks push through spam in its purest form.

    Sleight of hand and self-deception

    Now we analyze all types of disguises. And we will understand how dangerous they are - or, conversely, excusable.

    Service → Information

    This bias usually happens with conference organizers. A perfectly normal story, if not for one “but”: service mailings under the guise of information are usually written in a hurry, and they are often full of unpleasant errors.

    If you get involved in this venture, first instruct the corrector to read the letter, and only then send it. Take your time, otherwise you will be in time.

    Service → Pushing

    The easiest way to turn a service newsletter into a push is to send a statistical report. There is nothing wrong, a normal move, but it can scare some (numbers generally scare people, especially if it is easy to see through them the quality - or the "quality" - of their work).

    Of course, the same people who know a lot about gamification have mastered the method best of all. The urge to do something right now to improve the performance of your favorite toy is a terrible force.

    Informational → Pushing

    “Fly Alfa-Bank!” I will fly, thanks. But, in general, I won’t be able to take any concrete actions right now, no matter how much Alfa-Bank and even myself would like.

    Trying to make a push from a newsletter usually looks pathetic. This is where all the authors of "selling texts" and other urban crazy people graze. It is in these newsletters that cool brands lose their gloss and self-esteem. The reason is clear: marketers are not used to waiting, they urgently need to get beautiful numbers for the report. An unpleasant mistake.

    Pushing → Service

    Good try, Bookmate. And I would even believe that this is a service newsletter, but the trouble is that all other work with friends has been disgusting. That is, I do not benefit from this message - only Bookmate itself receives all the benefits from follow your library.

    Pretty unpleasant phenomenon. It only mitigates that usually you can still unsubscribe from such pseudo-official letters.

    Pushing → Information

    Twitter pretends to send a summary of recent events and interesting posts. In fact, of course, he is trying with all his might to transfer the passive user to the active ones.

    The method itself is more than OK, but there is a danger of overdoing it. Every day to send it - already a little bust.


    Are there hybrids without a dominant? Yes easily.

    Pushing + Utility

    The idea at the same time as communicating official information to sell something to a loyal customer, it occurs to many. In general, there is almost no trouble in this, if not for one “but”: usually the question “What should I offer?” Is delegated to artificial intelligence. And he is glad to try to offer a bearded admin a bikini swimsuit - simply because a year ago he bought something similar to his (former) wife.
    So here is more accurate with the implementation. And of course, official information should be clearly separated from advertising (yes, we all love Rostelecom's accounts stuffed with advertising, but this is already an offline story).


    Belief in the effectiveness of hybrids is indestructible. But in reality this is most likely a myth and self-deception - it is already almost unbearably difficult for the recipient to do two actions. However, it is necessary to investigate the issue.

    And let's talk about pure spam separately

    Pure spam is basically imposed communication. The user passed by, didn’t want anything, didn’t give himself away - and suddenly you were made happy.

    It is clear that spam is trying to disguise itself as any of the three “white” types of letters. But for me, by the way, it was a surprise that mostly spam mimics the nudging letters.

    Which, by the way, is the most disgusting of all the options: pushing letters are based on some context that remains behind the scenes and, as it were, continue the conversation with the user. And to continue the conversation, which was not there, is either a manipulation (the question “Should I buy?” Is replaced by “Buy now or then?” Or even “What exactly should I buy?”), Or crazy.

    You can sympathize with madness, but manipulation here is not a matter of jurisdiction. But if suddenly the sacramental “What is it?” Sounds next to you, you know how to answer.

    Bulk Email Service Model

    Suppose we safely learned to pass the emotional spam threshold. And now you are faced with the long-awaited problem of the notorious “chips”. But in fact - a quality problem.

    Invest in quality? Is mailing better and to what extent? Where is the balance of costs and economic efficiency on this path?

    Let's look at another very simple scheme.

    Hmm ... Something is not very simple yet, we need some explanation.

    This thing is a Kano model. It is used, for example, in situations where it is necessary to understand whether the quality of the X function should be enhanced - or is it better to create a new Y function with the same resources. In the development of software and its interfaces, it is a very useful thing.

    Writing is, of course, not software and not really a very interface. But definitely this is part of your IT service (or even an IT product). So, Kano modeling is quite amenable.

    Let’s finally read this tricky diagram.

    All the functionality modeled by Kano is divided into three large groups.
    1. “Wow, class!”
    2. "Normal."
    3. “How is it not ?!”

    They have different scientific names, and to hell with them. It is not the terms that are important to us, but the user's reaction to the fact of the presence / absence of functionality.

    We apply these estimates to our three “white” types of mass mailings.
    1. “Wow, class!” Are newsletters. Good and nothing but good.
    2. “Normal” is pushing letters. Well OK, thank you for reminding me, I’ll go to your site, I’ll go, I’ll go.
    3. “How is it not ?!” is a service reminder. How can you not recover your password by mail ?!

    Now the meaning of the axes is clear: vertically - the happiness of the user, horizontally - the quality of implementation.

    “True” spam, of course, is always negative in terms of user’s happiness, no matter how much quality you invest in it (and how much you fool yourself, that this affects the result). That is why spammer mailings are so creepy: and so it goes, investments in text quality and design usually do not give an increase in target indicators.

    Something else is becoming clear.
    1. Информационные рассылки — самые ценные для клиентов. И самые, к сожалению, трудоемкие в реализации. Но если есть хотя бы какой-то шанс на то, что пользователи их ценят, — развивайте свои чисто информационные рассылки. Дальше отсылаю к модной (и полезной для развития клиентского сервиса) идеологии контент-маркетинга.
    2. Подталкивающие рассылки — самые простые в подсчете ROI. Сколько в качество вложил — столько результата и получил. Неудивительно, что именно понукающих рассылок сейчас больше всего (да и измерять их легче).
    3. Сервисные рассылки если чем и блистают, то разве что своим отсутствием. Поэтому их, в общем, делают кое-как: после некоторого (весьма низкого) порога все дальнейшие вложения в качество начинают оправдываться очень и очень неспешно, а это мало кого привлекает.

    Of course, the model will sparkle with new colors exactly when you attach it to your business situation. But for the start, it turned out pretty well.

    And what?

    This was an article on how to respect users by doing bulk mailings. How to switch from the category of involuntary spammers to the category of businesses whose letters are read from beginning to end. What errors will lead to what results. And what to grab at first.

    Everything will work out. Good luck

    Once again I remind you that the material is suitable for digestion only to people with sufficiently strong moral principles and a pronounced environmental awareness.

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