The other day I was out shopping with my wife and we went into a women's store. Being the "amazing" husband that I am, I walked around with her as she checked out all kinds of things like scarfs, hats, and jewelry. After we spent some time in the store she decided on the items she wanted to get and we went to check out -- just like every other time you buy something in the mall. But this time I wanted to play a little game. I know for a fact that this store collects email addresses at their point of sale locations, and I wanted to see how the data collection interaction took place. So as we were checking out I listened closely and finally heard what I had been waiting for:
Store clerk: "Ma'am, are you a member of our reward program?"
My wife: "No, should I be?"
Store clerk: "It's a great program where you get X percent off of future purchases -- all I need is your email address."
My wife: "Sure, I'll sign up."
Store clerk: "Great. What is your email address? And don't worry, I will opt you out of all the crazy emails we send so you don't have to worry about that."
As you can imagine it was right about that time that my head started to spin, and I realized how many opportunities had potentially been lost with just those few words and a seemingly harmless email opt-out. I began to smile a little extra, and my wife asked me what was so funny. I told her what I was thinking and how ironic it was that this clerk automatically said she would opt her out of email marketing messages.
Let me say that this retailer did ask my wife to confirm that her email address had been put into the system correctly. In terms of data collection, this is not as accurate as a real-time validation check, but it does ensure that the clerk didn't accidentally mistype the email addresses.
However, even after I commented that I work for a company that sends emails on behalf of retailers such as this one, the clerk (whom I later found out was also the district manager) still automatically opted my wife out of future emails and stated, "Well, you know, we just send too many messages, and no one wants to be spammed."
It's always interesting to me when I hear people say something like this. Just because one person sees an email message as spam doesn't mean everyone does. This clerk didn't even allow my wife the opportunity to start receiving those email marketing campaigns to determine for herself whether or not they were spam emails. She just assumed that since she didn't find the messages valuable then my wife wouldn't either and made the decision for her.
I assume this was not the first -- or last -- time this happened. As marketers, we constantly talk about how we need to grow our lists and engage our customers, but if we are doing everything we can from our standpoint and not taking into account any other possible influencers, we are potentially missing opportunities.
I often talk with clients about how important real-time validation is when it comes to point of sale data collection -- and I truly believe it is -- but this one short interaction made me realize that there are a variety of other factors that are equally as important when looking at how best to grow their customer base and increase digital marketing ROI.
Two potential ways to overcome this point-of-sale email collection issue in your stores:
Make sure your employees see the value in your marketing efforts
If the employees in your stores, who are reaping the benefits of your marketing efforts, don't feel the email marketing campaigns the organization is sending are valuable, then how can your customers be expected to feel that way?
Offer the customer a choice
Many organizations offer preference centers or an email opt-down rather than an unsubscribe option, so why can't we do this during the sign up process? Why not offer the customer a choice of all emails or weekly digests so that you can continue to reap the potential benefits of having them as a subscriber of your messages?
As marketing organizations, we need to make sure that we aren't sending email marketing campaigns every day just for the sake of sending more emails. We need to focus on truly showing value to our customers. And we need to communicate this value to our employees on the front lines so they don't thwart point-of-sale data collection processes by preemptively opting customers out of email marketing programs and cost the business future revenue.