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Curiosity killed the brand marketer

20th Mar 2017
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A leaked company email to store managers announcing the new Krispy Kreme, Nutty Chocolatta doughnut set social media alight last spring. In a matter of minutes, screenshots of the email had been shared far and wide by excited doughnut lovers discussing what they had all been let in on.

A recall note was later sent by the company warning that the new doughnut was so delicious some people “fainted due to the euphoria it created” and others “dribbled” and “squealed” with excitement – unmasking a cleverly executed PR stunt.

The email played on confidentiality for its readers, maintaining that the information was “highly confidential” and played on people’s inability to adhere to rules by requesting they avoid sharing information on social media. In a nutshell (pun intended), harnessing our curiosity as humans can offer brand marketers a huge engagement tactic.

As always though, marketers must prioritise the sensitivities of us as individuals and as nations. While Brits are supposedly a nation of nosy parkers, does this brand messaging tactic work just as well across the rest of Europe?

For your eyes only

Recent independent analysis from the Mailjet test centre of 20,000 consumers worldwide revealed that national audiences across EMEA are as much as 48% more likely to engage with brand messages that play on our sense of curiosity.

The analysis was conducted through a series of tests among email service provider Mailjet’s database using subject lines such as ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (FYEO). Using these subject lines in brand messages, open rates rose to 48% in Spain, 45% in France and 34% in Germany among customers. However, only 18% of British recipients engaged with the test messages that played on their sense of curiosity - not as nosy as we originally thought!

While UK respondents were less likely to engage with FYEO messages, mock-up internal emails that are not meant for third-parties, like the Krispy Kreme messages, potentially catch the eye of a much larger proportion of customers. When the subject line ‘MANAGEMENT TEAM’ is used, British customers are 28% more likely to open an external marketing email that plays on their confidentiality complex.

No time for idle gossip

Alongside being nosy, Brits are stereotypically fond of gossiping too – yet does this tactic engage audiences? When the test centre sent emails containing subject lines such as “You’ll never guess what happened last week?!” playing on a sense of hearsay, this generated only a 3% rise in open rates with UK customers.

Over in the US, another nation of alleged gossipers this only rose by 5%, indicating that marketers who chose to use these subject lines in their quest for engaging communication tactics are actually losing impact with customers. 

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