Your Biggest Email Oversight Isn’t What You Think

There are a handful of concerns that arise for savvy business operators when it comes to their email marketing efforts.

  • They know they need to segment their leads. 
  • They know this action will help with sales. 
  • They also absolutely know they need more persuasive emails.

That’s about the time they talk to me and are gobsmacked about what I have to say should come next.

None of this is what they really need. These are all just tactics.

Oh, sure, they may need those tactics in the same way someone might win the lottery, but you can’t be sure of either. You might have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Here’s why: Until you know what your customers ACTUALLY want, you can’t give it to them.

Boom! Amirite???

Alright, I know, I know. Tell me something I didn’t know, Damon. Nobody read that nugget of wisdom and disagreed. Every business operator believes they know best what their customers want.

They couldn’t sleep at night otherwise.

Getting to the heart of what your actual customers REALLY want is the most important step you can take. Skipping it is the biggest oversight you can make.

What do your customer want… REALLY

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about what you think they want. And, I’m not talking about how they responded to that survey you tweeted out.

But, I’m also not talking about that survey you emailed to their inboxes, asking questions like, “What do you think of my [product]?” and “How likely are you to recommend my [product] to someone else?”

These are not questions that serve your customers first. Sorry.

These questions serve you and your business, first. I’m not trying to say you don’t deserve to know the answers to those questions, but I am here to advocate for your customers.

That’s who you want me to represent. In fact, I’m thinking of changing my title: Chief Customer Advocate, CCA for short. Anyhew…

When it comes to knowing the pain points of your customers, there is only one good way to get to the bottom of the matter. You have to ask them. Or, you have to hire someone else to ask them. The hard part is you can’t just ask, “hey, man… what do you want?”

This has to be a conversation, and you (said operator) might not be the ideal person to ask. In fact, I’ll come right out and say it.

Sorry again, but...

You’re the worst person for the job


The problem with you asking the questions around here is that you have a vested interest in the outcome. As cool as you might be, and let’s assume you’re cooler than two penguins, you’re not impartial.

For your customer or potential customer, it’s natural for them to tell you what they think you wanna hear. That’s a feelgood conversation. Those are easy.

Tough feedback? Confrontation? No, that’s what customers use social media for. That’s the outrage outlet: Twitter, Facebook, Yelp…

As much as you might like to think that you’re approachable, most people will avoid confrontation at any cost. In fact, one research team in the UK recently found that 66% of customers avoid confrontation in person, opting for? Wait for it… Social media.

Big, huge, massive surprise there, right?

[Cue: unbiased party asking all the right questions.]

Introducing: video chat 


The best thing you can do send out a survey. In a pinch, a well-considered survey can be effective, somewhat, but it’s no match for real talk.

Millenial aside: There was a time in history when people would talk on this thing called the telephone.

Phones were great because they allowed each person to hear vocal tonality, a massive component of communication.

Don’t think tone matters much?

Read this sentence out loud as if someone you care about just won an impressive award:

You deserve it.

Now, re-read those same three words as if someone you despised was finally getting what’s coming to them.

You deserve it.

How do you feel about tone now? Surveys can, at best, ask multiple choice questions. Another upside is that they allow you to control the answers, but then you might miss a few answers you didn’t consider.

If you allow respondents to give long-form answers, you could get endless paragraphs or worse, short one-word answers. “Everything is great,” is not helpful feedback.

There is too much nuance to human communication to capture it in text. The phone is a step up from forms, but the even better platform is one you probably use every weekend.

Who doesn’t love video-chatting with the parents?

Imagine that scenario, but in a more professional setting, completed by someone who is competent with a MacBook Pro and the right video recording software.

Then, imagine that recorded chat going to a stenographer so you can read or search the transcript until the cows come home? Imagine the responses neatly correlated in a spreadsheet, with key takeaways outlined by someone else. [read: me]

Most importantly, imagine not having to make the time for all that work, and having it actually make a difference in your business.

Imagine all that, and ask yourself again if you think you can get it done yourself.

Voice of Customer (VoC) research is gold

The most powerful move you can make to improve your marketing efforts is not by creating buyer personas, not unless you base them on real-life customers.

Even in that case I would ask, why bother?

Getting to the heart of your actual customers through VoC work is the most valuable step you can take before trying to sell them anything. Period.

Have you seen the show Westworld? It’s a good series if you like your science fiction mashed up with Westerns. Here’s my home-crafted logline:

Somewhere in the future, a very powerful investor designs a park where people can interact with very realistic robots to act out their every fantasy. Everything you can imagine takes place, murder, pillaging, you name it.

[My Hollywood writing opportunities just flushed down the can with that logline, I know.]

The whole goal of that wealthy investor is to find out what people really want so he can use it to make money off their unspoken desires. The people who enter the park are free to do whatever they want without consequence, revealing their deepest, darkest desires.

Setting aside the plausibility of your funding such a place, the low-rent, super effective way to get that information is to ask them outright.

Again, not so direct, but through a series of open-ended questions about their experiences, either with your product or in life.

The hopper of potential questions varies from business to business, but the best questions are always open-ended. The conversation feels like, well... a real conversation.

The people on the other end of the call know what you’re up to, but they’re so happy to chat about themselves, when it’s done correctly they drop their guard. Way down.

No worries if you’re still not convinced I have the secret sauce you need. I’ll earn your trust in time, but if you have the slightest inclination that I’m on to something, don’t give up on me.

There’s a whole lot more under the hood after this.

Thanks for reading.


 Damon Re Mitchell © 2021