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Branding the Jump: Verbal identity is key to customer relationship

Posted by: Melinda Flores on January 18, 2011

Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to clean out my cluttered inbox.

And, in choosing to terminate that one point of connection in the customer relationship I’ve established with many brands, I couldn’t help but notice how brand voice and messaging can work to retain those relationships — or, at the very least, to leave a positive and lasting impression of the brand in the mind of the consumer.

Acknowledging human needs
“We want to stay in touch, but only in ways that you find helpful,” Amazon assures you when you ask to unsubscribe from its informational emails.

Virgin takes it a step further. “So many emails. So little time,” its Unsubscribe page reads. “We realize you are a VIP and your email inbox is quite full. If you’d like to stop receiving Elevate email updates and promotions from Virgin America, just enter and confirm your email address below.”

Showing that you understand your consumer, and speaking to those consumer concerns in a warm manner, is a great way to remind people what your brand stands for — even as one of your means of connection is being terminated.

Offering more choices
Customization is key to maintaining any e-marketing relationship, but how you talk about it is just as important.

“Want to pick your email frequency?” Sephora asks eagerly. “Want to hear about local offers? Or would your rather unsubscribe?” Its helpful, conversational tone demonstrates the brand’s desire to give you exactly what you’re looking for.

Barneys takes a playful tack, giving customers the following choices:
•    I love you but you're calling me too much!
•    I love you but you're calling me too much (two to four emails per week)
•    Please stalk me! (receive all emails)
•    I love you but I don't want your emails anymore!

By drawing parallels between the consumer relationship and that of a more amorous variety, Barneys makes the reader smile — while reminding them why they may have signed up for emails from Barneys in the first place.

Giving second chances
“Wait, wait, come back!” Smart brands know we’re not going to come chasing after them, at least not without good reason. So when you’ve already got someone on the line, give them a reason to stay there.

G by Guess, a brand that sends me both emails and texts, extends their friendly, young voice to their Unsubscribe page. “Hey, where ya goin’?” the brand asks, providing a short list of benefits of the site, such as “new trend emails, contest info, special events and way more! Sure you want to unsubscribe?”

What’s especially interesting is that G by Guess texts could not be more devoid of personality: “Spend $75 and get $25 off your entire G by Guess purchase.” Their unsubscribe text message was similarly uninspired, and I had to text STOP to them several times before they actually stopped sending me texts.

That’s one of the dangers of outsourcing this type of work to an agency without a specific verbal strategy for your brand: You lose a significant opportunity to grow the relationship.

Ending on a high note
A lot of brands sent me “We’re sorry to see you go” messages, such as Fandango and FansEdge. But I really noticed the ones who made an effort to end the relationship with an air of optimism.

An elegant goodbye from Godiva: “You’ve been unsubscribed from our email list. Best wishes.”

A graceful message from Sephora: “Beauty-full things come to those who wait. Please allow 10 business days for change to your email subscription to take effect.”

Brand it to land it
The upshot is, saying the right thing in just the right way is crucial — but never quite so crucial as when a customer is choosing to stop receiving communication on behalf of your brand. It’s a chance to repair that relationship and possibly even extend it, one that cannot be ignored.

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