Are You an Email Sommelier?
The job title "sommelier" is hot. A recent Los Angeles Times article described the latest incarnation of this role being fulfilled by companies that serve as "music sommeliers" — that is, they're interior designers of the aural kind. Similar to the traditional sommelier, whose job is to serve as the in-house wine expert, these individuals curate playlists that map to a restaurant's menu, clientele, setting and even time of day.
Sounds a lot like what a good email marketer does. A sommelier (whether music or wine focused) plays a huge role for a restaurant committed to providing excellent customer service, driving long-term loyalty, creating a great experience and showcasing a customer-centric approach to business. In summary, they're good marketers.
The following points are prerequisites to being a good sommelier, along with their parallels to the email marketing world:
Know your guest. It's more than red vs. white. There may be 200-plus wines in the cellar to choose from, but only 10 pair with what the guest is ordering. Customize your offers based upon what's known about the subscriber, their preferences and what they've enjoyed in the past.
Sell, don't shill. If you're sending email marketing campaigns, there's a call to action you're trying to generate. Advise, listen and be relevant to subscribers’ interests. Give them a reason to buy — e.g., explain how the product will enhance their experience or solve a problem. Hopefully they'll even share the experience with their friends.
Understand the lead. Wine is one part of the overall dining experience and is designed to complement the food. Define the hierarchy of your messaging so that the competition between offers or calls to action isn't distracting from what you want the subscriber to focus on.
Speak in bullet points. Succinctly describing the taste of a wine and the type of grape it's derived from assists the guest in sorting through their options and making a confident selection. They don't need a soliloquy, but rather sound bites. Likewise, email is a skimming medium. It's important to quickly get to the point to enable the reader to make their decision and move on to the next item on their to-do list.
Related story: Preparing for the Age of Mobile