Amid the millions of marketing emails that are launched every day, it isn't hard to find some lead balloons. Sometimes even top marketers are guilty of approaches that mislead, defy logic, are
distasteful or just plain silly. Here is a sampling from my inbox, presented in the categories of "sense" -- for those lacking in logic -- and "sensibility," for those that may
breach feelings or trust. A targeted email that misses by 1,000 miles.
I subscribe to a travel e-newsletter that recently started sending me more targeted emails
based on what they know about me. Good idea? Not in this case! The emails now feature hotel deals in my home town. Seriously -- how likely do they think I am to vacation one mile from home? Sensible approach:
When you get serious about segmentation, ask your subscribers to update their preferences first. I would love to let this publisher know my favorite travel
destinations -- if they asked! Silly tie-Ins.
How do you like my fancy Super Bowl shoes? Yes, an online shoe store actually sent me a promotional email
themed around the Super Bowl. They didn't showcase footwear appropriate for a tailgate party or playing tag football in the backyard or doing a happy dance. They just wanted me to buy some
shoes. Sensible approach:
Don't shoehorn your e-marketing into holiday themes unless you can make some
connection between the holiday and the content. Be
creative!Check your dates.
Recently an online retailer sent me a "welcome" message, congratulating me on being a new customer. The problem? I have been
shopping with them off and on for four years. Instead of making me feel special, the email communication made me feel anonymous and unappreciated for my past custom. Sensible approach:
By all means have a welcome stream queued up and ready to deploy to new subscribers or customers; this is a great practice. But do pay attention to your data. A simple query would have separated
out customers who have been on the database for a while. Let them eat cake.
With the world economy shrinking and bailouts growing into the trillions of dollars, one-third
of Americans are losing sleep over their personal finances, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In this climate, purveyors of luxury goods face new challenges. Sadly, some upscale sellers seem
unaware of people's sensibilities on this score, and some have even depicted their premium goods amid settings of poverty and want. Sensibility approach:
Unless you are
sure the individuals on your email database are cavalier about the times, market with caution. Good taste in depicting the use of luxury goods could spare retailers from any pent-up public outrage.
Remember the AIG bonuses... Lies and misinformation.
I once allowed an online community to lighten my wallet by $35 for a membership, based on the assurance that people I
knew were actually searching for me on their site. In fact, no one I knew was searching for me, even though some people were undoubtedly searching for friends with my (rather common) name. Retention
efforts consisted of continued emails with the same tease. Sensibility approach:
It is not nice to mislead people, and it's no way to build a relationship. Online communities
have much to offer -- they can easily build campaigns promoting true stories of members' great experiences and the possibilities inherent in membership, without distorting the truth. Unsettling subject lines.
I receive a newsletter about heart health with the same subject line every month: "Your heart attack newsletter." I experience a mini-infarct
every time I see that in my inbox. Sensibility approach:
Even if your subject matter is deadly serious, you can draw readers' attention in creative ways that do not upset
them. Lead off with this month's health tip or news about the latest research. Give readers hope through highlighting solutions rather than problems. In any event, every newsletter deserves a
subject line that promotes the current content -- not just the title and date.
Do you wish to achieve sense and sensibility in your email program? Scrutinize your messages for gaffes
and gasps, and ask your customers for honest feedback. They will surely help you get back on the most rewarding path.