Have you ever signed up for an interesting-looking freebie online, only to regret it within 48 hours as you were deluged with offers to buy whatever stuff that particular individual was selling?
You know the kind I mean. They make their first pitch, ok cool, fair enough.
Then they follow it up. "Mr. Fancypants, did you get my last email?!?!?!" Three or four times a day you’ll get some version of "Did you buy it yet? How about now? Now? Now? Now?"
If you bring this up with the guys who employ this particular tactic, they invariably give you a withering look and tell you, "I do it because it works." And I’m sure, on some level, it does. They’ve done enough testing to know that the 19th message probably squeezes out an additional 1/16th of 1 percent. For some business models, that’s enough to "work"–at least on paper.
However, if you keep talking, you’ll find out that your pest-based marketer hasn’t tested a real alternative–the gradual development of a thoughtful, trust-based relationship. The marketer hasn’t tested talking to customers like they were friends whose opinions he valued. The marketer hasn’t tested a sequence that delivers genuine value over time, and not just a one-shot freebie special report or video. The marketer typically has no sense of the lifetime value of any customer other than the 1 percent who, for whatever reason, will buy anything this guy offers if they get hit up often enough.
(I’m not saying that some repetition doesn’t have a place. Messages, especially email, slip through the cracks. And almost all of us procrastinate. A few well-timed nudges are a good idea. But apply the road trip test. If you were ten and in the back seat of your dad’s car, how tempted would he be to pull over and refuse to drive any farther until you quit whining?)
Are you creating true fans?
Like everyone else in the metaverse, I really like what Kevin Kelly had to say about 1,000 true fans. That’s the approach I’ve been advocating in this blog, in the work I do with customers, in my day job, and in the super secret marketing project I work on in what I laughingly call my "free time." It’s the approach I try to take as a parent and a friend.
It’s not about limiting your community to some arbitrary number, whether it’s 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000. It’s about showing yourself to be trustworthy. It’s about delivering exceptional value and an exceptional relationship in a way that feels personal and respectful. It’s about turning "share of customer" metrics into human loyalty and advocacy and passion.
As people get more and more weary of the clutter and noise, it’s going to get harder to squeeze out those last few fractions of a percentage point with 10 or 20 more pieces of spam. Most people won’t even unsubscribe, they just send you directly to their junk folder.
If you’re running a permission campaign, allow me to make a suggestion. Spend less time on ways to bleed that last percentage point dry, and more time what you can do to create a meaningful relationship with the other 99%.
Flickr Creative Commons image by makelessnoise