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Keep in touch

August 4, 2010

These days, it’s almost harder to find a brand or organization that DOESN’T want to keep in touch with you online than one who does. From encountering a virtual chat box to help me select my lawn furniture at Home Depot to the cleaning company that leaves a leaflet on my door asking me to find them on Facebook, to mobile food carts that let me hunt down my lunch on Twitter, companies are going social in order to get the word out.

And while many of these opt-in outreach devices are great, because I can choose my level of involvement, we all still get those groaner messages, and from my experience brands trying to play it “hip” on e-mail is one of the biggest failures in social interaction.

While e-mail has become a haven for spam, I think most of us still prefer to use it for the intent of keeping in touch with loved ones. Remember that good old AOL “You’ve got mail!” din? The excitement came from connecting with someone, not getting another survey asking how my experience at Marriott went. It’s a hard format for brands to do well. More intrusive than posting a message to a social media platform, an e-mail needs to 1. get through my spam filters 2. get opened 3. get read in order to be successful.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to sending a great, unsolicited e-mail, but I got a great example in my inbox this week that I thought was worth sharing, since as social as our Internet has become, e-mail is still the best way to reach a significant population.

Three years ago, when I was still dating my husband, I ordered a CD online – I ordered it for the song “Crayola doesn’t make a color for your eyes” which you really should listen to sometime if you’ve never heard it. It was a long time ago, and I haven’t interacted with the company I bought the CD from since. Which would lead one to believe that it’s a bit ballsy of them to go ahead and contact me now. But I received the e-mail below – check it out:

Hi Lindy –

Way back in 2007, you bought a CD from my store, CD Baby.
 (KRISTIN ANDREASSEN: Kiss Me Hello.  Remember?)

So you might be interested in my new free projects to help musicians:

MusicThoughts: inspiring quotes about music

MuckWork: assistants to do your dirty work

Derek Sivers: my personal site, with articles

SongTest: a free, open song contest
They’re all free, open-source, and non-commercial (except MuckWork), so I’m not emailing you for any business reason.

But since we’ve emailed in the past, I thought I should let you know what’s new.

I sold CD Baby two years ago, so this is the last time you’ll hear from me, unless you reply back or click those links.

Though if you do reply, please let me know what’s going on with you (really!), in case I can help in any way, and to keep this from being a one-sided conversation.   🙂


Derek Sivers

P.S.  Why I sold CD Baby and where the money went:

This e-mail succeeded in keeping my interest, getting me to read it, and even check out a few links for a few reasons:

1. It’s brief. Most of the information is in bullets. I have options to get more information, but I don’t have to sift through much to get to the meat.

2. It’s specific. It mentions the CD I bought previously, reminding me of my earlier interaction with the company (which was positive).

3. It’s personable, and has personality. It’s written by a person. It’s directed to a specific person (not customer 292). And it sounds like e-mail correspondence from someone who cares about what they do – and that’s always the kind of brand you want to interact with. This has as much of a chance of becoming disingenuous, but when Derek asks me to keep in touch – I somehow believe him. It’s cheesy, but it conveys a bit of passion.

Three basic points that are important for any business interaction, but that are especially crucial in an e-mail, or any online campaign.

Think you can do better? Seen worse? Send me what you’ve got to – I love a good e-mail!

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