Why Your Definition of Relevance is Wrong

Chris Marriott

When I was at Dartmouth, it wasn't all studying and snowplows. We were young, and well, the young like to drink for fun. Drinking games were numerous and varied in my fraternity, but sometimes even we lacked originality and would simply hang out in front of the TV, challenging each other to drink when Klinger would change his outfit. He did that a lot, so within the 30 minutes or so of an episode of M.A.S.H., we got pretty toasty.
Why do I bring up my youthful, albeit nerdy, debauchery? Nostalgia aside, I actually have a point to make about email marketing.
Sometimes I find myself listening to presentations on the subject of email marketing and thinking, "Wow. If this were a drinking game and the trigger word was 'relevance,' we'd all be wasted right now." Like Kliinger and his habit of changing his outfit, the word relevance turns up a lot in conversations about email these days. Relevance has come to be the Holy Grail of 1-to-1 messaging: getting the right message to the right person at the right time via the right channel -- and staying top of mind when it comes to conversion.
Since I'm reliving my collegiate past a bit, allow me to put on the professor's mortarboard and pose an intellectual challenge to this argument. What if we turn relevance on its head and look at what is most relevant to you, the email marketer?
There is another side to relevant communications -- the marketer's side. Many brands want to target the 16-34 demographic, for example, but in actuality email is becoming ...
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