Milkshake marketing: Applying the ‘Jobs to be Done’ theory to your email marketing campaign

By Richard Carey

In his book, “Innovator’s Solution,” Clayton Christiansen told the story of a restaurant chain that wanted to increase the sales of their milkshakes. After observing their customers, they realized that milkshakes were serving completely different roles for different kinds of customers. For some customers, a milkshake was a tool for calming their kids down. For others, it was a way to get a quick breakfast on their way to work.

One lesson from this anecdote is that there is a difference between knowing your product, and knowing how your customers use your product. Businesses need to know the problems their customers are solving, or as the approach has become known, the Job to be Done.

Recently, we had an opportunity to apply the Jobs to be Done approach to an email marketing campaign. The client was a B2B software company that supports and automates aspects of the recruiting process. When we began the engagement, we suggested that email marketing can be used as the centerpiece of a three-stage learning process:

  1. Identify candidate Jobs to be Done by interviewing existing customers
  2. Gather data from your email campaign to evaluate the candidates
  3. Use what you learn to improve marketing and product development efforts.

Identify the product purpose

Before we even began our email campaign, we needed to understand what the product was from the perspective of our client, and our client’s customers. In other words, we wanted some anecdotal stories about how the product is used. Many email marketers make the mistake of jumping in too quickly with tasks like demographic segmentation. But in many cases, the relevant differences in your clients don’t depend on traditional categories.

In this case, after just a few interviews it became clear that the software was being used for two very different purposes: some clients were using the software to automate routine processes designed to bring in a large number of recruits. Other clients were using other aspects of the software to bring in a few high-value recruits. Our initial hypothesis was that the regular automation features for large scale recruiting were more valuable to clients.

Gather data from the email campaign

Most people think of an email campaign as a way to motivate or change the behavior of potential customers. But there is another role for email that is less well utilized: you can use it to learn about your customer (and about your product).

In this case, we selected emails that corresponded to the two primary Jobs to be Done we learned from the interview process. We didn’t send out surveys because we wanted the information gathering to be a little more subtle. Instead, we identified informational content and subject lines that would appeal more to one group or another.

Based on open rates and click-through rates for the different emails, we found that customers were engaging more with content based around aspects of the software focused on bringing in the high-value recruits. This data contradicted our initial hypothesis. However, after revisiting the interview data, we learned that our hypothesis had been biased based on some …read more

Read more here:: marketingland-email

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