Many companies talk about designing the “end to end” experience, although in practice what they generally end up doing it putting a pop-up ad to “win an iPod if you take our survey” at the end of the checkout process. But it’s been interesting to see some companies really upping their game around customer loyalty.
I recently ordered some area rugs from FLOR. Their stuff looks great, is inexpensive and is pretty fun to play with. After seeing the results I snapped a photo to show my friends on Flickr and Twitter. Moments later I got response. From FLOR. “Hey,” they suggested, “email a photo to us and get 10% off your next order.” I checked out their twitter feed and found a host of links to blog entries and articles about home design. While it’s no HGTV, I am intrigued to see if FLOR can generate and aggregate content that will inspire people.
Of course, not every brand is appropriate for this type of strategy. One wonders what folks on a Wal-Mart “community site” might have to say besides, “this stuff is real cheap.” (Although IKEAFans certainly seem to generate a fair amount of content.) But for companies whose products center around a passion or activity (in this case, home design) the web is finally starting to deliver the 1:1 connection that marketers have been promising for years.
In any case, we’re finally seeing an evolution over ad banners and spam. The first is too impersonal and the second too intrusive, and yet there does seem to be room for communication between people and brands.
I am always amazed when I do user research and people say that they are interested in receiving email from certain companies. I guess what they imagine is that instead of pointless promotional emails, they might actually get useful content.
Here’s hoping that more relevant and directed marketing becomes interesting and useful.
-- Gretchen Anderson