In 1958 famed psychologist Harry Harlow conducted an experiment. Harlow wanted to study the mechanisms by which newborn rhesus monkeys bond with their mothers. These infants were highly dependent on their mothers for nutrition, protection, comfort, and socialization. His central question centered around what basis this bond was formed? Harlow’s explanation was that attachment develops as a result of the mother providing “tactile comfort,” suggesting that infants have an innate need to cling to something for emotional comfort. He came to this conclusion by placing infant monkeys in compromising situations and seeing what kind of caretaker the monkey would cling to, either a soft plush makeshift mother, or the makeshift mother that was made out of wire. Invariably the monkeys preferred the softer feeling “mother” – thereby proving his theory regarding how attachments are formed.
In business your approach is not to have your clientele attached to you, but rather to impart a warm feeling to those you interact with in order to establish a meaningful relationship with a consumer so they keep wanting to come back. Simple – and forming that bond is no different
than how Harlow conducted his basic psychological experiment. One of the most effective ways we can reach people in a marketing channel to impart that good feeling to consumers is via email. The amount of marketing emails sent each day is nearly 300 million – you yourself probably receive between 5-10 a day, sure they can clutter your inbox and be annoying but remember at one point and time you signed up to receive these. So what changed? You went from being excited about a business now to being annoyed by the sight of their name. The likely answer is that they aren’t doing enough to keep you engaged and feeling
valued as a consumer. Let’s look at some of the reasons why we become disenchanted with these brands.
Am I Talking to a Real Person?
I called a major internet service provider the other day and not only was there a robotic humanlike voice talking back to me, but within this audio they managed to put in the clicking of keys on a computer to give even more of the illusion that you are talking to a real person. This did not make me feel good as a client. My first thought was do they think I am dumb enough to fall for this? And if that is your first thought when interacting with a business “do they think I’m dumb” it probably will not be the most positive experience. This same principle applies when you see emails come into your inbox with outlandish sender names…naming celebrities, politicians, business tycoons, etc., trying to get you to open the email. Again, do these brands think we believe we are really receiving emails from Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Nancy Pelosi?
Do Not Disturb.
Similar to that, when emails get sent by “NoReply@….” this is something many brands overlook but it really makes a difference. When you receive that email it feels like a closed line of communication and that you are not welcomed to talk to them or respond which is very off putting. At the end of the day it becomes a game, you almost feel proud of yourself for not being duped by their scheme, but if you are honest, not click-baiting, and offer ways to be contacted or the name of someone who can be contact that will pay many more dividends than your sending line reading as something clearly contrived.
This one is easy, do not hide the unsubscribe button. It makes people that much more angry when they want to take a break from receiving your brand’s emails and then having to go on a wild goose chase just to be able to stop receiving emails. That feeling is one of this company wants to keep my data, they are desperate, or they are trapping me. These are feelings we would run from not towards.
Lastly, Keep it Simple.
Trust that you have built a good enough relationship with your consumers and that getting them to sign up for emails is a big step. That said, you do not need to put everything and the kitchen sink in these emails – put in what you would want to get out. Don’t bombard them with too much information, give good offers and good insight so emails keep getting opened down the line. Nobody wants to read about every detail, remember there is a reason we all used “Cliff Notes” in grade school.
Relationships are hard especially when there is a transactional element involved, but remember the psychology behind what makes a good relationship, it’s those same nurturing principles Harlow found with the “soft mother” from his experiment. Now go off and write that next monthly email and kill those metrics, also…call your mother!
Corey Barsky is the Business Development Director at OakRidge Consulting. Barsky has functioned as senior data strategist and grassroots coordinator working with clients to optimize their brand reinforcement, and penetration of their name ID. Coming from his hometown of Philadelphia, Barsky plans on remaining in Pittsburgh where he currently resides, since obtaining a degree in Neuroscience.