While happiness isn't a measurable KPI, sending people emails just to make them smile, rather than to drive sales, can be a powerful relationship marketing tool for brands.

At a recent conference, one brand shared that sometimes they like to send an email just to make their customers smile. The purpose of the message isn't about driving sales or introducing new products - instead, the entire goal of the message is to entertain and engage the recipient. Hence the introduction of this new metric: click-to-smile.

While this isn't a KPI we can track (at least not yet), it is a sentiment and a purpose that can exist when planning your content strategy. Driving and sparking customer connections isn't an "email only" function, but it is a spirit that we can bring forward in the way we message to customers through email to keep them engaged. According to Andy Frawley in his book Igniting Customer Connections, "brand preference is more of a function of feelings than practical considerations."

Yes, email is an amazing channel to drive revenue and site traffic and page views and so on, and one could argue that you wouldn't send a message without the intent of driving a sale or conversion. But customers may not always be ready to buy - and in today's customer-centric world of marketing, being top of mind (and memorable) isn't a bad thing.

Email is also an amazing relationship channel. It still remains one of the few channels that recipients actually request to receive communications, promotions and offers from. But does it have to be all offers, all the time? Like any relationship - variety is the spice of life.

Frawley went on to conclude that, "emotional connection is far more important than logical cognitions (such as price, convenience, service (Read more...) selection) in explaining a customer's commitment to a particular brand." Yet inside many email communications we are consistently appealing to those cognitions with little attention paid to the emotional connection.

So while the click-to-smile ratio may not be a true calculation we can make, we can certainly strive to deliver on this metric. An experience, a piece of content, an interaction or a kind gesture inside the email being sent with the intent of putting a smile on someone's face can go a long way. Because according to Frawley, "simply put, happy customers are eager to interact and more willing to spend money with their favorite brands."

And you never know, with the intention of driving a smile at the forefront of your campaign -it may just drive revenue now and in to the future (I've seen it happen many times). As long as you set the expectation that measurement of success is the click-to-smile - every dollar generated is just gravy.

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