Senior marketers say that email marketing delivers the best ROI. But it is possible that email marketing could damage your business?

Is customer data an asset?

I met a company who had 15 years of customer data and had never subsequently contacted a customer to offer an upsell or repeat sell. Even though, they made a successful sale and the customer was satisfied with the purchase, they left it completely to the customer to decide whether or not to buy from them again in the future. In their case, the customer data could not be considered an asset as they failed to make any use of it.

This contrasts with a company like Amazon who are constantly coming up with email offers suggesting products based on your purchase history. I don’t buy everytime I receive an Amazon mailing but across the year, I buy enough times to provide them a good return on their email marketing.

Can customer data be a liability?

Some companies choose to sell (or provide access to) their customer data to other companies. I receive a regular email from Up My Street. I rarely read it but occasionally look at local house prices. Today, I received an email from them with the headline

‘Ever considered a career as a private foreign exchange trader?’

It offered a free workshop to show how ‘foreign exchange trading was fast becoming a career of choice’ with a sub headline of ‘hours a day:1 commute:0’.

With email marketing you are only ever 1 click away from an unsubscribe. I found their email irritating and have given a ‘yellow card’ to Up My Street . The next time I get an email from them which isn’t potentially useful, interesting or valuable I will give them a ‘red card’ and unsubscribe.

On the face of it, taking some money for offering access to your customer database may seem a good idea. However, if the message from the company receiving access is at odds with your brand, a small short term return may be offset by a large long term liability through lost customers. Such email marketing is likely to damage a business.

As ever it’s a trade off

I also subscribe to a daily email from I love MotoGP and avidly read the daily emails and subscribe to their brilliant live video channel. However, I also get irritated when I get a weekly email from them sponsored by a betting company encouraging me to bet on race results. I find this extremely irksome and would prefer to unsubscribe from the betting emails if an option was available. On balance I value the MotoGP service so much that I choose to continue to subscribe to the MotoGP service and spend 2 seconds deleting the weekly betting email .

With UpMy Street, I receive little value from their service so therefore it would not take much irritation for me to choose to unsubscribe.

What use are you making of your customer data?

Are you using your customer data for email marketing? Is your customer data an asset, neutral or a liability? Find out more about growing customer lifetime value