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Marketing e-mails that actually help customers

If you’ve read this blog for long enough or follow me on Twitter, it should be no surprise that I’ve tried online dating. Many years ago in college, I signed up for Match.com, but my membership expired about three years ago. So imagine my surprise to get an e-mail from them the other day. The subject was, “Safety Reminder from Match.com,” and the fact that the first paragraph included the line “to help you have the most positive experience,” I felt compelled to read on.

Their tips are interesting and it got me thinking about a company’s responsibility to its customers. As a user experience designer, my focus is on creating digital products that are easy and pleasurable to use. My goal is to make sure people accomplish their tasks and don’t have to overcome any hurdles along the way. But I’ve always said that the user experience extends far beyond their interaction with the product; it begins when the customer first thinks about your brand and ends when they are no longer your customer.

In this case, I am no longer a customer of Match.com and they used an intelligent approach to reach back and potentially change my experience with their brand in a very pragmatic, tactical way. This wasn’t marketing messaging about the fabulous men I can find on Match.com; rather it informed me of smarter, safer ways to use their service and better my experience.

Dear Whitney,

Each month thousands of singles find love on Match.com. To help you have the most positive experience during your search for love, we’d like to share the following tips:

1. “Password” is not a password…
Neither is “123456″. As with any website, be it your bank, eBay or Match.com, choosing a password that isn’t easy to guess is just good practice. Also, change your passwords on a regular basis. Remember, Match.com will never email you to confirm your password, credit card details, or other information about your account. So if you receive such an email, it didn’t come from us, and please tell us about it.

2. Enjoy your online dating experience at a relaxed pace…
Get to know potential dates before meeting them in person, by emailing each other through Match.com’s anonymous email system. If you’re using our anonymous email system from your personal email account (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.), remember that these programs automatically include your personal email address in any reply. So be sure to delete this information if you’re not ready to share it. 

3. “Hi. It’s nice to meet you.  What’s your email address and Social Security Number?”
Be open to sharing information about yourself, but – as with anyone new you meet – it’s smart to be cautious about disclosing personal information. You wouldn’t give a stranger on the street your home address and credit card information. The same rules apply when meeting people online. Until you get to know the person better, simply say, “I don’t usually share that information until I know a person a better.”

4. Love may be blind, but instincts aren’t…
If someone you’ve recently or never met asks you for money, they probably don’t have the best intentions. If an email doesn’t look like it came from a Match.com member, it probably didn’t. Don’t click on any suspicious links or respond to any email that doesn’t look right.

5. Cafés really ARE great places for first dates…
As clichéd as it sounds, a café is a wonderful location for a first date. A cup of coffee can be a short encounter or a lingering affair, depending on how well you hit it off! But if you’re taking a break from caffeine, remember that whenever meeting someone for the first time, pick a public place and let a friend know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Part of what makes Match great is that you’re part of an active, engaged community. If you see a profile that’s troubling, use the “Report a Concern” button – located on every profile and email response – to let us know. Lastly, if at any point you feel concerned or uncomfortable about your Match.com experience, please let our Customer Care team know immediately. 

For more information about online safety, we suggest the following:
More Safety Tips from Match.com
OnGuard Online

Best of luck in your search for your perfect match!
Match.com

I really like this approach and now I’m gonna start thinking about ways to apply it to my clients. Is your company thinking about the holistic experience and engaging your customers at this level? Have you ever received an e-mail like this that affected your perspective on the brand, whether good or bad? Tell me about it in the comments.

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  • http://www.perfecttuna.com Samantha LeVan

    Working for a company that regularly strives to positively communicate with our customers, there are so many challenges to deploying an effective email like this. Risks must be evaluated:

    1) Do we email too frequently?
    2) Is the information useful to our customers?
    3) What are the legal implications?
    4) Will we alienate some of our customers by appealing to others?

    Of course, there's also the problem of who has the final say over marketing communications. Who should write the piece and who should review it? I'm impressed that Match.com was able to get this out. With all the logistics that go into creating these type of emails, it's often a wonder to me that any are ever distributed.

  • Michael J. Pratt

    Whitney – remarkably poignant post (for me) Thanks for being brilliant enough to connect these dots

  • Cruise

    Hey whitney one of the great post i have ever read..The layout is simple like the information in it..
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  • http://www.erziehungshalsband.info/ Erziehungshalsband

    Thank you Whitney for this good post. Some Companies are sending me an email every day that is very annoying but if a companie is sending my a good helpflull email once in a month I am often very happy about that. In my opinion the best thing in the email you have posted is number 5. Number 5 is telling you something which is interesting to the reader