How can a brand get started on the hotline (and bottom line) journey? Here are the first three steps in building hotlines with customers:
- AMP: Make every email AMP. Make AMP a mindset and think “Living Email” – how each email can become not just a broadcast or a blast, but interesting and interactive. The good thing about this is that if the mail client does not support AMP, it will simply show the alternative HTML email. So, there is no downside.
- Atomic Rewards: Create a time-based rewards program that incentivizes the non-monetary assets customers have: attention, data, network and voice. Gamification must become central to all communications; it is the best way to nudge behaviour and create habits.
- Progency: Instead of burdening internal teams with yet another thing to do, work with an external partner who brings in right- and left-brain skills to deliver “Performance Email” which creates a win-win partnership.
Once the Email 2.0 program has delivered on its hotline promise, brands can start expanding the Atomic Rewards to other channels. The Micronbox is an idea which will come – it needs a WhatsApp-like entrepreneur to challenge the status quo of the existing inbox providers.
A few weeks ago, I wrote in my essay on profit-centric marketing: “The path to exponential forever profitable growth comes down to something as basic as solving the problems of attention and data. In a world of digital and direct relationships, these are the two things that matter most. If a brand’s customers are not listening and if a brand does not have adequate data, it becomes hard to build a hotline to customers. Without the hotline, it becomes difficult to bring customers back to the properties for transactions … Email is not what it once was – 1-way broadcast and semi-spam. Email is now ready in its new avatar: Email 2.0. This email can be interactive, informative, gamified, fun and exciting. It is email like customers and marketers have not seen or imagined. Email 2.0 is a way to convert the delete mindset into delight. It can become a powerful channel for getting customers to volunteer data about themselves. For this, Email 2.0 needs to be combined with Loyalty 2.0. Tokens for attention and data with a new spam-free inbox which delivers surprises and rewards can bring brands and customers closer in a win-win relationship.”
If brands can build their hotlines right, especially with their Best customers, they will find that they no longer need to keep spending big bucks on wasteful and cash-guzzling new customer acquisition. That money freed up can power better relationships with existing customers – and help with the bottom line. Profits don’t come from newly acquired customers; they come from existing customers coming back for more and bringing along their friends. In a world where capital is no longer free and investors are demanding clear paths of (growing) profitably, the hotline can become the marketer’s best friend in delivering customer delight – it not only bridges the chasm between acquisition and retention but is also the crux of the profitable growth challenge CEOs and CMOs must solve for.