In this day and age of escalating consumer threats — e.g., identity theft, data loss and sophisticated spam — consumers are understandably more sensitive to the personal data they entrust to companies, especially email marketers.
In fact, according to the 2009 Epsilon Branding Survey, the trust relationship between consumers and email marketers may be “more fragile” than ever before. As one indicator of trust, 29 percent of respondents said it would be OK for companies they know and trust to send them more email compared to 43 percent just three years prior. Given this, what can email marketers do to cultivate trust with consumers?
Build and maintain a trust relationship with consumers by implementing the following tactics:
1. Redefine “trust relationship.” How do you define trust in a relationship? Realistically, it needs to be more than “Can I trust you with my data?” The cornerstone of a trust relationship is the value exchanged between you and your customer.
Begin by asking for a minimal data set consistent with the level of trust established. Be mindful that with each subsequent action, you’ll be building and also testing the trust relationship with that customer. Most importantly, be sure to set expectations up front on when and how you’ll deliver your communications. In other words, don’t promise relevant content if you’re not truly in a position to customize it to each individual customer. Remember, nothing erodes a trust/value relationship faster than violating customers’ expectations.
2. Continually refresh permission. Unfortunately, many marketers assume permission is permanent. This isn’t the case. A customer may express interest in receiving communications from you, but that preference may change over time. Continually confirm permission and probe for new needs. A common practice that erodes permission is data sharing — when a customer gives permission to one business unit and subsequently receives unrelated communications from other units or partners.
In propagating permission, there’s greater risk in the customer unsubscribing from all communications from the company. And remember, if you send shared data, you run a higher risk of your communications being perceived as spam.
The bottom line: Trust is a crucial component of any marketing campaign, but a fragile thing. It’s hard to get, easy to lose; requires constant renewal, but is never evergreen.