As a customer for around 20 years, I think First Direct is great but this example of First Direct email marketing is very disappointing.

3422_first-direct-13may11-rev - Peter Hawtin - peterh I could be nit picky and say that using sugar cubes to illustrate ‘sweeter’ is a cliche and I expect better of First Direct but that is not my main concern.

As a bank, First Direct know a huge amount about their customers including what products they have. I have had a First Direct offset mortgage for many years. So why are they sending me an email encouraging me to buy a product I already have?

If I wasn’t such a First Direct brand avocate, this email could make me think they were hopeless or even worse turn me into a brand terrorist

One size fits all marketing is so out of date

In pre-web / email days, this sort of blanket approach to marketing was the norm due to a combination of lack of data; poor systems; lack of resource and high costs. In 2011, it is unacceptable.

For example, with the advanced email system I use for clients (big and small), it is possible to send a specific email to a specific segment or individuals. This can even be done by using dynamic content where the copy for each email varies based on database content. e.g. the 2nd, 3rd & 4th paragraphs of an email might be different for every email recipient based on their address or gender or age or type of product purchased etc

This avoids sending an email to a customer asking them to buy something they already have bought which is clearly stupid.

Fortunately, I have so much brand goodwill for First Direct, I can forgive them for their poor email marketing on this occasion

Key marketing learning for companies big and small

  • try to build a reservoir of brand goodwill with customers so they forgive you when you do something daft
  • don’t send emails and other marketing communications to customers that have already bought the product. It makes you look stupid. (n.b. unless it is a product with a ‘fixed life’ e.g. encouraging a customer to change their car after 2-3 years is a good customer retention / lifetime value strategy)
  • take advantage of advanced email marketing to send smart emails with content tailored to segments / individuals based on email marketing best practice
  • if you don’t have in-house expertise, talk to an email marketing expert