Who are you?

Do your audiences know who you are when you’re talking to them? Are you making dangerous assumptions?

I want to share a recent email experience I had that really brought home for me the risk of not taking care to clearly identify yourself in all the channels you deal with your customers through.

I was looking for a solar system wall mural for my son’s room and doing some research online. After investigating a few sites that offered the mural I was looking for, I chose the cheapest and placed my order.

Within a short while I received the standard “your order has been received email” and was told I would be notified when it shipped. So far so, good. A couple of hours later I received another email telling me my order of a wall mural had shipped and included a tracking link. All was right with the world. But hold on, a little after that, I received a third email also telling me my order had shipped and including a tracking link (different than the first). Okay, so now I’m confused. I look a little closer at the emails in the inbox on my iPhone and I see that the first and third email are from a company called McMaps.com and the middle one from a company called McCarthy’s Geographics.

Immediately I assume that I somehow accidentally placed an order at a second company while price shopping. Not wanting to deal with returning one of them, I fired off a response to the McCarthy’s email asking them to cancel the order because it was a mistake. Dale on the other end was really helpful and he managed to track down my order and stop it before it made it onto the truck. He also told me that my order was submitted with a credit card and all details. How, I wondered, did I manage that if I was just checking prices?

That lead me to ask the question that should have been obvious, ‘are you the same company as McMaps?’ Yes, Dale replied, McMaps is our online entity. Crap. I had just canceled my only order.

You could explore why they send two shipping confirmations with different links or why I was so dumb as to not notice the url in the address was the same, but the part that struck me the most was why a company would use different names when talking to its customers. Especially when you are dealing with people in the impersonal space of the internet.

In my own work as a marketer for a trucking insurance company, we have undergone the process of creating detailed customer journey maps for our various segments. These basically outline the hoops we make someone jump through to do business with us. They are explained in much better detail in a great book by Allen Adamson called Brand Simple.

What these maps told us was that we have a tremendously complex relationship with some of our customers. We touch them a lot. What we also know, though, is that to a lot of them we are collectively know as “them” or “they” or “the insurance company.” The point I am trying to make is that they reduce our multiple faces and names down to a single word or a phrase. They don’t deal in multiple contacts, they can’t keep up.

Think of the last time you got a call from your insurance company. Do you remember the name of the person who called? Now imagine if the name of the company changed with different interactions; or because a division branded itself, you’d get a call from ABC or FGH, but they are all from DEF. Or what if, as in my case, it’s a company you have never dealt with before? Do you follow me?

We know the “from” field in email marketing is one of the most important factors in open rates. We sweat over it (I do, anyway). Let’s make sure we sweat over that same concept in other areas of the business, too. It can make a big difference.

In the end, I reinstated my order because Dale was so helpful. But had he not made a diving catch, I may have taken a very different path.

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