Create Content Your Customers Would Pay Money For

Today we cleaned out our email inboxes and unsubscribed from numerous email lists. They’re getting too full, and we’ve simply got to cut back. You know the routine.

We wanted to stay. After all, we willingly signed up in the first place. But our time is too valuable. If we don’t receive value for our time, we’ll jump ship just like anyone else.

The decision-making was stressful. Perhaps we unsubscribe a little more thoughtfully and reluctantly than many. We’re in marketing. We know there are people behind those email blasts, and we truly care about people. Someone thought we wanted or needed that information—that it would elicit some kind of mutually beneficial positive response.

“Someone” was wrong.

Getting subscribers and social media followers isn’t the most important thing—it’s keeping them that matters. 

The same goes for snail mail, except that it’s much harder for them to unsubscribe. Generally, our worst efforts go directly into the trash and we never know about it. It’s a crying shame and a huge waste of resources.

One of the most useful aspects of being active on social media is the ability to gather information that helps you target your customers more effectively. You may already have a social media presence, but are you using it well? Are you keeping up a two-way conversation with your customers that yields information you can use to predict what information will and will not be considered useful and valuable to them? It’s their perception that determines such value, not yours.

Effective marketing strategy is based on collecting information with predictive value.

You can’t really take credit for taking a stab in the dark and having it go well. Such victories feel good, but they’re useless when it comes to making future marketing decisions.

Next time you clean out your inbox, carefully consider the type of information that would have been useful to you. Ponder the content that might have convinced you to stay—or at least to think twice before squinting and searching for the “Unsubscribe” link buried in the fine print at the bottom. Consider sharing your thoughts with the company you’re “breaking up” with. After all, wouldn’t you want to know the truth if you were in their place?

As for your own customers who unsubscribe, don’t make it hard on them. Allow them an easy exit. At the point they’re looking for a way out, it’s generally too late to convince them to stay. Politely ask for their reasons and let them go, just like the proverbial butterfly that may or may not return.

Meanwhile, go back and read your own newsletters and social media posts and ask the million dollar question, “Would I pay money for that?” If not, maybe it’s time to revisit your social media and direct marketing strategy before pressing “Send” the next time.

Conna Bond is an associate professor of marketing and management and the co-founder of Pineapple Social Media and Red Canoe Creative.

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