Showing posts with label Small Data. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small Data. Show all posts


Celebrity Cruises: Too Many Emails!

I've written a few times about Celebrity Cruises' spray & pray approach to email. In 2018, during the weeks leading to a cruise, I was bombarded with emails selling future cruises. The following month, I shared how they had emailed me again and again. Later in the year, I counted more than 200 marketing emails from them.

Celebrity Cruises
So many Celebrity Cruises emails,
so little time to read them

I thought this type of bombardment was a Fail for Targeting. Maybe I was wrong, because they still appear to be taking the approach -- hitting me with 19 emails within a week.

Between March 1 and March 3, Celebrity sent me 10 emails. Eight of them were upsells for my upcoming cruise -- drink package, specialty dining, professional photos, WiFi, etc. Perhaps they could have spaced these out at bit? Maybe? Please? One of the 10 emails was for a semi-annual sale; the other was for cruises to Alaska. If that isn't spammy, I don't know what is. 

None of these emails conveys emotion. How about at least one email that might convey excitement? Maybe open with, "We are very excited to have you abord the Celebrity XXX on XXX. Here are some things to know as you prepare to check in." Perhaps give a reminder to, you know, not forget your bathing suit. 

I can't simply ignore all these emails. One of them is germane to understanding what I need to do to check in and ensure a smooth embarkation process. So, that's one functional email and 200+ that are not useful. (There might be a second important email in the bunch, but I can't find it.) It's like that Beastie Boys song: They can't, they won't, and they don't stop

Maybe when it comes to future sales marketing and upsell, less isn't more in the cruise industry? I don't know! I do know that, by the time I arrive to check in for my Celebrity sea cruise, I'll already feel salty.

Direct marketing isn't only transactional. It's about building a relationship that improves the customer experience. 


Spectrum Cable & Discover Bank: Know Thy Customer

Preparing an acquisitions direct mail acquisitions campaign mailing list takes time -- sometimes, a lot of it. Typically, a preliminary list needs to be pulled from an external database, checked against one (or several) internal databases, and sent to a lettershop. Depending on the state of your business’s files and how antiquated your systems are, this process can easily take a month. After receiving your mailing list, the lettershop typically needs three to five business days to personalize your mailing, prepare it for mailing per postal service guidelines, and get it in the mail. Once a large-scale Standard Rate mailing is in the mail, it can take the USPS about a week to deliver it.

That’s about six weeks to execute an acquisitions direct mail campaign -- not including creatively developing and printing the mail, which can hopefully be a concurrent step. Nor does it include planning the mailing, determining costs, getting cost approval from management (or, if you run the business, ensuring you have the money to spend), training people at the inbound call center and customer service to react to customer responses, preparing the website for online responses, and setting up the business’s internal procedures to process sales to new customers. Whew! 

While you are soliciting new customers, you might take efforts to make existing customers more profitable. This means differentiating your prospective customers from your existing customers. Understanding who your own customers are, from your own internal database, is something I call “Small Data.” This is where Spectrum and Discover merit a Fail for Targeting.

In December, I was already a Spectrum customer for high-speed internet when I received a self-mailer offering a cable TV package. That was a valid attempt at upsell. However, on the same day, I received a nearly identical-looking self-mailer offering a high-speed internet and cable TV bundle. The upsell mailer was addressed to me, while the acquisitions mailer was addressed to “Current Resident” with a salutation of “Dear Neighbor.”

Given that I received both self-mailers on the same day, I presume they both had been mailed from the same lettershop with separate mailing list files released to the lettershop on the same day. Spectrum could have (during their weeks of preparing the mailing lists) deduped actual customers from the prospect file; however, they obviously did not. Perhaps this was a timing issue -- but I’d signed up for Spectrum Cable in early October. Even a company as large as Spectrum should be able to run a customer check given that much lead time.

Spectrum Cable Self-Mailers
Address Panels

Spectrum self-mailers envelope back

Upsell roll-out panel & letter

Acquisitions roll-out panel & letter
Also in December, I received a pair of solo mail packages with similar offers -- one designed for upsell and one for acquisitions. 
Spectrum Solo Mail
Outer Envelopes

Spectrum Cable Front of Upsell Letter

Spectrum Cable Back of Upsell Letter
Upsell Letter

These two packages demonstrate non-optimized list hygiene.    

With Spectrum, there could have been an internal issue related to timing of removing new customers from prospect lists; however, the same can’t be said for Discover Online Savings Bank. I recently received a self-mailer addressed to me, inviting me to open a new online savings account. Nice creative, but I opened the type of account with Discover Bank in 2018.

Discover Online Savings Bank
Discover Bank
Address panel
Discover Online Savings Bank
Back panel
Discover Online Savings Bank

Discover Online Savings Bank
Inside panels
A business needs to value its customers by not confusing them with prospective customers. Or to paraphrase Hamlet, “To thine own customer be true.”

Remove customers from your prospect mailing lists on a timely basis.


Celebrity Cruises: A Ship Came In, But It Wasn’t Mine

My wife and I are looking forward to a cruise with Celebrity in a few weeks on a ship sailing to a few locations in the Caribbean. Like any good marketing machine, Celebrity is sending us frequent reminders of our upcoming vacation while providing us with add-on solicitations: beverage packages, gourmet dining, and excursions. Until recently, these emails appeared to me to be well targeted (and enticing, but I digress). However, this email for One-of-a-Kind Modern Luxury Adventures misses the mark.

Celebrity Discovery Collection

Celebrity Discovery Collection

Celebrity Discovery Collection

The email visually represents a few exclusive opportunity excursions in Europe. As much as I’d like to go to Europe, I’m not. Perhaps the email was intended as a general sales communication of their new Celebrity Discovery Collection excursions. Perhaps the targeted population was everyone in their email communications list. If so, then the reference to “HERE’S A SAMPLE OF WONDERFUL EXCURSIONS FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION” is too assumptive, because my next vacation – and that of many other customers receiving the email – won’t be to Europe. 

If this email had been targeted as intended – a broad audience – then the headline should have read “HERE’S A SAMPLE OF WONDERFUL EXCURSIONS WITH CELEBRITY” or simply “HERE’S A SAMPLE OF WONDERFUL EXCURSIONS.” This merits a minor Fail for Creative, because the messaging is not aligned with the target audience. If the email had been targeted at upcoming European cruise customers, then it merits a more substantial Fail for Targeting, because it was sent to people not planning to sail to Europe.

It appears to me that Celebrity does not fully manage their customer communications.  Some emails are properly targeted and personalized, while others seem to have a Spray & Pray approach.  Specifically, they send the same communication to every email address they have.  Such emails fail at building and maintaining customer relationships.

Consider the best use of your small data, that is, the collection of information already available that can be used simply and effectively.

In the meantime, below is an example of a well-targeted upsell email complete with personalization and relevant visuals of available excursion opportunities. No Fails here.


Verizon Wireless: Winback Email That Does Not Win Me Back

Last June, I wrote about lack of communications from Verizon Wireless after I switched my mobile service to a different carrier. A couple months later, I started to receive winback offers shown below – offering a package deal price of $40 per line for four lines with unlimited usage.
Verizon Wireless
I need 1 line -- not 4

This is a Fail for List. Verizon had 15 years of customer history and could have easily discerned that I was a single-line, low-usage customer. An unlimited plan is not useful for me, much less a plan with three devices more than I need. Verizon Wireless doesn’t need to use Big Data to properly tailor its winback offers. Making smart use of Small Data – namely, the collection of information already available that can be used simply and effectively – would be sufficient to understand former customer needs and offer a service that is relevant. 
Verizon Wireless mail that fails
Page 2 of email -- fine print & disclosures

My supposition is that Verizon’s leadership has chosen to take a product proposition and push it out. As I write this, their mass media marketing focuses on unlimited usage offers on their better network. After 20 minutes on their confusing website, I’m not sure there is even a low-usage plan available anymore. 

Granted, the population of U.S. consumers using less than 4 GB per month is decreasing, but keeping or winning back a customer is always less expensive than winning an all-new customer. (To wit: As of this writing, Verizon Wireless is offering rebates of $150 and up to new customers.)  Keep the customers you have, then you can upsell and cross-sell them later to 5G, home FIOS, and other services.

The best way to win back former customers is to offer what your data suggests they want or need.


Recyclebank: Perishable email

There is a lot of buzz in direct marketing about ‘big data’ — “An all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications” according to Wikipedia. Nice, but before embracing the challenges of big data, marketers should be successful using the information they have. I often call this ‘small data,’ or “The collection of data already available that can be used simply and effectively.”

Which brings up the topic of this recent Recyclebank email. When I joined Recyclebank in 2011, it appeared to be the MyPoints of environmentalism, offering points for purchasing products and doing things that are good for the environment. Those points could be used for healthy and environmentally beneficial rewards. After a bit of use over the course of a year, though, I cashed out all my points for some Odwalla coupons. I earned a few points after that, but not enough to redeem for anything meaningful before they expired. That was more than two years ago.

I never opted out the program, however, and still received an occasional email with offers of points for taking part in environmentally friendly offers or for learning why drinking from cans is better than drinking from bottles. However, the email I’m talking about is a bit different. In it, Recyclebank attempts to engage me by offering point redemption offers. Nice, except I have zero points and have not had any points since 2012.

In sending this email, it appears that Recyclebank took a ‘spray and pray’ approach, pushing the same email to all customers. A smarter use of their small data, however, would have been to simply target customers with a meaningful number of points by adding a line or two in the code querying the list of customers. This would have avoided a Fail for List.

Lesson: Use the information you have in-house to target your customer communications appropriately. Avoid sending emails with irrelevant messages.