If you want to be a ‘best friend brand’, you have to get email right

5 minute read

Once upon a time there was a young communications channel called social media. It started to get lots of attention and everyone liked it. That was until the dark force of the commercial world found it. They decided they wanted in on the action, they wanted the attention and to be as popular as social media. Suddenly brands wanted to be our best friends.

Ok, so it wasn’t that bad but the dawn of the social era suddenly gave brands the right to think they were our friends. A few years on and that still sounds uncomfortable the majority of the time but we have come to realise that some brands we do want to be best friends with. Having the right strategy can also turn your brand into one of these best friends but it takes a sensitive approach and content that can show off the personality of the business or culture.

IBM owned Silverpop has carried out some research to find out just how brands can do this, specifically around the best of the best friend tools email. Yes, you heard right, that’s email not social. According to Silverpop’s research, email is the cornerstone of the best friend brand. Once a brand is in our circle of trust then we actively seek out their content, we can’t wait for the email to drop and change our day.

According to the research, we average around 4.5 average best friend brands each and these are the brands that people will open the email newsletters or correspondence from almost every time they get it. When asked how often they purchase, it was only three brands in three months which reiterates the importance of relevant and timely messaging.

The research goes some way into explaining the importance of personalisation, with 71% of its respondents saying they’d be more likely to purchase if messaging is tailored to them. The research, which was a mix of UK, US and German respondents, found this trend to be significantly higher in Germany (81%).

With the question turned on its head, when consumers were asked why they didn’t open emails, 58% said it was because it was irrelevant.

In Campaign Monitor’s Top 100 Email Campaigns 2013 it includes a section for the best performing email campaigns. Included in the list was Jumeirah rewards and member benefits club. They used a simple and smart tactic of personalising the subject line, connoting personalised and exclusive content within: “Subject line: [firstname,fallback=], an exclusive invitation just for you.”

A subject line that doesn’t deliver on its promises could be a sure fire way to lose your new best friend, however. According to the research, trust is a critical part of becoming one of people’s 4.5 best mates. Some 64% of people believe that they would open an email purely because they trusted the brand. Maintaining that trust through the use of similarly engaging and personalised email, social and web content will get you into that 4.5 brand sweet spot.

What if it does go wrong? The research goes as far as to suggest that a quarter of us have stopped purchasing from a business because of a poorly executed email campaign. In the UK, where consumers are slightly more aloof to the best friend brands, up to 30% have stopped a purchase because email correspondence has put them off.

The biggest reason for this is brands being too needy and sending communications far too regularly. This is why email is such an important channel for the best friend brands and shouldn’t be abused.

Other channels are critical in becoming a best friend too, although 67% believe there aren’t any types of information that they’d prefer to get via another channel. For those who don’t agree with this, offers and promotions would be better delivered via another channel (21%) as well as new product information (13%).