Sunday, December 08, 2013

We’re going to unsubscribe you, unless...

I received a clever email today (at least, I think it's clever!) which has the subject line, "We’re going to unsubscribe you, unless..." At first, because the subject text drew my eye, I thought it must be spam, but then I looked at the sender and realised it was from the British Library (BL), who I am a subscriber to. So why was it clever? Well I think it was smart because of the following:

First, interestingly, "mild panic" set in. (Well, okay, not quite panic, but you know what I mean). What was I going to be missing?! What was I about to be unsubscribed from without me knowing? So I opened the email. And once my heart-rate had returned to normal, I realised it was the BL informing me that because I hadn't opened one of their regular emails for some time, they were going to unsubscribe me unless I specifically clicked on a button to remain subscribed. And I quite liked that. It made me wonder initially why I wasn't opening their emails and if I did really want to continue to be subscribed. So I clicked and did re-subscribe.

Why even do this?
Now, I guess some people might question why the BL bother doing this. After all, each email only costs a few pence to send so why not just keep me on the list. After all, one day I might open it and take some action. Which is how I know many fundraisers see such email lists. The more names the better. Never mind if it isn't really what the supporter is interested in reading anymore, and never mind that the open rate is 0.00-whatever. Just keep sending everyone the emails just in case…

However, personally, I think this is a great exercise in promoting supporter choice, which is something I quite believe in. Surely it makes more sense to only be sending emails to people who want to receive them. Surely it provides a better ROI - after all, even if each email only costs a few pence to send, thousands of such emails will add-up each time they are sent, and they are likely to be sent many times during the year. So the total cost will add up.

And, by getting people to re-confirm their subscription, by definition you have someone who has taken a positive action to remain interested, and that in itself could be an interesting segment to approach. Now you know something more about them. Maybe you could send them an initial "welcome back" email with a particular message or options to take? Maybe they could be allocated a different customer journey? As yet, I haven't received anything like that from the BL but I will wait to see. (I was also slightly disappointed that the email click-through was to a generic page on the BL website rather than a 'Great, thanks for doing that - now have you thought about…' type page).

The Technical SideOf course, to do this, it takes one critical technical thing: an email marketing system (EMS) which can monitor if someone doesn't open an email; and alongside that, a database - whether within the EMS or in a separate CRM - which the marketers can query in order to find out which people they should target with such a message - which people have not opened x emails within the last y months/campaigns etc. And of course, a database where, if I am subscribed to several different emails from the organisation, then it needs to be able to not blanket unsubscribe me but just opt me out of this specific email campaign.
It’s a great example of the digital world with a smart database and with some savvy marketing users coming together to try this out. Kudos to the BL.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Is there any place for the Long ITT anymore?

Shopping List  
The short answer

The only slightly less short answer
No, except when you have to, such as OJEU or similar requirements.

The Full Answer
Okay, let's address this question properly. First of all, what do I mean by a "Long Tick-box ITT"? Well, pretty much as it sounds: it's when you devise hundreds and hundreds of questions, mostly about functionality, and ask suppliers to respond to your Invitation to Tender (ITT) document by asking them to tick a box which says if they can meet that requirement. Often, this will be a MoSCoW method (or similar): Must have, Should have, Could Have, Won't. (Never underestimate how much IT loves its acronyms and pseudo-acronyms). And then sometimes one asks if they can do it 'Out of the box' or 'with customisation' or 'not at all' - or similar. Thus, the suppliers tick these boxes, you add-up their scores, sometimes weight the questions with more/less importance and hey presto, we have a winner. Or at least a short-list which you can then invite in for a demo.

But it's really not as simple as that. In the first place, suppliers have been known (shock horror) to stretch the truth when ticking boxes and interpret a question so they can say yes they can do it when maybe they can't really... And in some ways, that's understandable as writing such questions so they are non-ambiguous can be difficult.

Plus, completely understandably these days, 'generic' CRM suppliers can probably say with (almost?!) complete honesty that they can do all almost all of a CRM ITT's requirements because their systems have been designed for exactly that flexibility. But that still doesn't mean they are necessarily right for you to buy.

And it doesn't tell you anything about how they would do it, or if they do it well, or if they understand the question and so on. Okay, so some of that can be addressed at a software demonstration but by that point you may have knocked out a good option (supplier) without knowing it, or you might find a supplier is actually completely inappropriate for your organisation or requirements. It's just a non-efficient method.

In fact, the time it takes for this whole process is a looooong time. A long time for you to create the initial document, a long time for the supplier to answer and a long time for you and your colleagues to read all the responses and mark them.

Couldn't there be a better way of using your time? In my opinion, yes. Personally, when I help charities with a procurement, I prefer more 'open' tender documents (aka RFP - Request for Proposal), asking for more expansive responses, possibly with the inclusion of process diagrams and a more interactive approach with the suppliers all round.

And I'm not completely against including a few lists here or there in the RFP of specific requirements which you must have - especially where they are especially important. But I don't ask suppliers to tick each bullet point.

Clearly, there is a lot more to the whole procurement process than just the above - but super-long ITTs? No, not for me. I don't think they help you select the best supplier for you. Which is ultimately what you want.