Inbound Marketing Lessons: Or How I Ended Up Getting Emails About “My” Wedding Dress

I am getting married (woohoo!) next year, and being the nice guy I am, I decided to help my future wife by stepping up and helping out with this whole shindig.

Now, I am not privy to colors, floral arrangements or the nuances of “who should sit next to who?” So, I put my talents (technologically and analytically oriented) to good use.

I registered and built out our wedding website on TheKnot.Com!

And, being a marketer, I didn’t even hesitate to sign up for email updates from the platform; fully expecting tips, tricks and insights (along with messages trying to sell me stuff).

But man, I did not expect these emails.

So, first things first, these emails look great! The design and content is approachable, clickable and engaging.

However, I don’t have hair, I am not planning on wearing a dress, I don’t have bridesmaids and I do not I have a taste for color palettes. I thought we cleared that up before?

The lack of information The Knot has on me as a user is interesting, and made me realize they are missing some key elements to their inbound marketing strategy.

1. Content is Great. Audience Segmentation is Better

I thoroughly believe and execute my campaigns by the rule: Content is King. 

If your content isn’t great, From blog posts to white papers to tweets, no one will look at it, even if it is your audience.

However, even if you have great content, you need to think about who you are serving that content up to. Would you post a cat video to your audience on LinkedIn? Maybe, but maybe not. 

This is a key aspect to proper inbound marketing. Your messages and content are only as good as your ability to segment and identify your audience.

In their rush to get messages to brides, who are the bulk of the entire wedding audience members, The Knot completely missed out on me: A guy getting married!

Your audience will tell you what they want to hear, but if you don't have your segmentations in place, you will miss the opportunity to refine your messaging.

2. Give Users the Opportunity to Provide More Information

I, as a user of The Knot platform, am a "potential buyer" of services, products and goods.

However, outside of directly purchasing something, I have no way of sharing more information about myself. So, their system tags me as a "potential buyer" but I am most definitely in the "unknown prospect" category.

When you don’t give users opportunities to offer more information about who they are or what they like, you miss out on optimizing your content.

And, if you simply segment your audience by the credo, “We only need email addresses”, you are really missing out.

You can have an email campaign that goes to just email addresses, but then  have a free download or a newsletter where users sign up and offer more insight to who they are and what they want from you.

This approach allows you to talk with your audience, as inbound marketing is not a one-way street. However, not providing a direct line of communication is a huge mistake. 

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3. Have Someone Ready to Respond

The “Reply To” field for inbound marketing is often a giant, shared inbox with 50 people monitoring it and promptly responding to customer messages. 

The Knot apparently doesn’t have this, as I sent a response clarifying I would love to receive messages on wedding tips, tricks and insights, but maybe if they have stuff specifically for me, I could receive that content instead.

No response yet. That was weeks ago.

So, when you are looking at your “Reply To” field in your email automation system, don't just put in any "contact_us" address. Make it at least look like it is going to a person or department. This instills trust in users, and let's them know they are not being ignored.

Think of it this way. Your social channels are not ignored if a customer has a complaint, so your "Reply To" field should be no different. 

Conclusion

I cannot guarantee I would purchase any of their products or services, yet I would be much closer to a "potential buyer" if The Knot followed these three principles. 

Your audience is the key to your success at inbound marketing, as with every click, message received or comment made on a blog post, they are letting you know more about their wants and needs.

Focus on your audience, and you will set the tone for future success using inbound marketing.