Wednesday, June 25, 2014

visiting the magic kingdom is like an email nurture series

by kirk r gray

i'm sure when you read that title you said, seriously? i said that too when i wrote it. but hear me out. a year ago i was asked to present about email marketing to my organization. this presentation kicked off a project of aligning our communication process across the organization. this was the first time i presented to other people outside of marketing so i had to introduce myself. to do that, i decided to talk about the similarities between my job and my passion.
my passion is going to disney world. my career is email marketing. i'm sure you are asking yourself how are they connected? it's easy for me to answer that question.

first a little about me
i started going to disney world in 1994. in 1996, i started a five-year stint working for the disney stores. fast forward 20 years -- (and i am almost ashamed to admit this) i've gone to disney world more than 125 times (disneyland twice and disneyland paris once). the majority of those trips happening when i worked for the company. now, on top of all of that history with disney, i am a proud member of the disney vacation club.

my introduction during that presentation was intended to be a conversation starter and to get someone to ask, "why have you been so many times?". that's an easy question for me to answer - the psychology of an utopian experience. walt disney, the man, not only wanted a happy place for all to enter, but also wanted a way to tell a story with the parks. he developed an environment where he looked at and exploited human nature. that's what fascinates me. the parks guide you through a story in a natural and comfortable way.

so how is going to the magic kingdom like an email nurture series?
the disney experience starts from the moment you approach the magic kingdom. you see the park in front of you, you have an idea of what is about to happen, and what is offered, but if you've never been there before, you don't know what all about the magic kingdom. just like when your prospects look at your site - they know what you offer, but not how to get it, what to do with it or how to implement the solution - kind of like a ppc ad.

as you approach the turnstile of the magic kingdom you have to give something to get access to the park. the turnstile acts very much like a landing page - it's a transaction, you pay to get in - only the turnstile uses physical currency, the rfi on your landing page is a virtual currency - your prospects information.

but also like a landing page, you can't see all that if offered by the magic kingdom. the view of all the excitement and buildings is now "hidden" by the train station. you can hear the sounds of the magic kingdom. the building blocks your view of the rest of the park - all the excitement waits inside. the magic kingdom is gated until you engage in this transaction.

walking past the train station, the magic kingdom unfolds in front of you. welcome to the magic kingdom! suddenly this magic place is real. the park is there in front of you. and just like the rfi transaction opens up gated material and access to a rep or support, the magic kingdom does the same thing. to the left is guest services, they help you with planning your day and in reality, they are technical support for the park - they are there to make your experience with the product better. your prospects may look for that too, this is communicated by your welcome email.

the magic kingdom uses beacons to draw you deeper into the park. after introducing yourself (or your sales reps) to your prospect, your subsequent emails should further engage your prospects like these beacons.

as you walk down main street usa, you're busy learning about the park, and looking at maps and planning their day. walt took advantage of human nature - food (along with places to sit and read and plan) are on the right and we have a natural tendency to "go to the right".

if it's first thing in the morning, people stop for breakfast and to read the map and showtimes. they are motivated to eat not only because they have been up since 7am and the kids have been screaming "are we there yet for hours" but also because of the scent of fresh baked goods. where is that aroma coming from though, the doors are closed and the windows don't open? that smell is actually "sprayed out" over main street. you see where i'm going with this right? the scent is a call to action, you want them to click your email to buy or set up a call or visit, the the scent is doing the same thing - "hungry? stop for a pastry!"

waiting for you at the end of main street is cinderella castle and the hub. the hub is the major call to action in the park - disney presents you with multiple options on where to go and what to do - tomorrowland, fantasyland, liberty square or adventureland. each land is connected by bridges to the hub. and just like in lead scoring, the choice of which land to go to is "weighted".

remember that people have a natural tendency to go right? walt wants you to go to tomorrowland first, that bridge is immediately to your right, and it's the widest of the bridges. each bridge gets narrower as you progress counter-clockwise around the hub. walt most defiantly is giving you a choice in how to go about the story, but he built in a preferred path and most people do. think of the land that they decide to visit the end of your welcome series - they have chosen a product. now it's time to re-market and start the process over again.

just like cinderella castle, each land has a beacon, and guess where that beacon is located? yes, in the back of the land. space mountain, little mermaid, the haunted mansion, big thunder mountain, and pirates of the carribbean are all located at the rear of their respective lands. you could consider those conversion points. as a marketer, you place your conversion point at the end of your nurture series. walt did the same thing.

think of each of those "e-ticket rides" as a way to increase the lead score of your prospect or as a product that they have bought. you want them to have the full suite of products right? what do do you? you continue to email them - newsletters, new product announcement, even gate more material. as you continue to move through the magic kingdom, the series of call to action, email nurture, conversion continues. walt disney should be credited with the way we do digital marketing and remarket to customers, not amazon.

with marketing you have to innovate, so does disney
it used to be the norm with any marketing effort to get the customer and the sale. retention wasn't something that we always thought about it, nor did we think about "humanizing" the experience or "big data". disney is just as guilty of that mentality. but, they are innovating...and getting big data to make the experience even more customized.

just like tracking cookies, magic bands are tracking what i am doing, where i am going, and what my favorite rides are and are customizing my experience based on that. besides tracking pixels and behavioral marketing can you think of where we as marketers do that? how about the mantra of "content is king for customer engagement". with universal studios releasing rides almost overnight, disney has to keep up.

through tracking, and seeing where their guests go, disney is able to send out communications that tell me about new experiences based on what i have done in the past, measure the popularity of experiences and provide alternatives for down town to keep their customers happy. we can do the same thing in not only our nurture series emails but also in our retention and follow up communications.

now, none of this is new when it comes to the mindset of a marketer, but sometimes we just need a fresh look at what we do, and to compare and contrast against something that we never thought of as being connected to our profession to get those creative juices running. so when it comes to thinking about how to market to your prospects, don't just look at your competition - look at your experiences and the things you like and figure out what you can emulate or build on with those experiences to bring a fresh look and experience to your efforts.