Jennifer B. Davis
Research is now showing that the top reason email subscribers give for opening and engaging with an email from a company was "prior value." So, if a subscriber received value from a previous email from a company, they are more likely to open the next. I was introduced to a new term/old concept today from Chris Baggott (who got it from Stephanie Miller of Return Path). Although this seems pretty elementary, its implications, which extend well beyond email marketing, are profound: you have to give value away before customers will be marketed to. To use an antiquitated metaphor, businesses must "prime the pump" to have marketing efforts (especially personalized, targeted marketing efforts) take hold. The virtuous cycle has to start somewhere.

Some companies provide prior the "sale" by offering educational content on their websites, free trials, "betas" of new software tools, cache (ie, invitation only gmail accounts), or by being something that the readers aspire to (either because of a strong brand, a fresh style, or irreverant, provocative content that is "right on" to your target audience). Seth Godin evangelized related concepts as Permission Marketing, but marketers need not have elaborate opt-in programs or sophisticated systems to utilize this concept. How often have companies gone to a trade show, published a brochure, or went on a sales call with the express purpose of creating value for the customer, so that they would get a second conversation, and a third? Like the samples put out in grocery stores, what value are you providing to prime the pump?

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