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Marketing Campaigns Gone Wild

Updated on February 10, 2012

My Email Nightmare Story

When I was in high school I participated in a foreign exchange program. While my exchange partner was staying with us my father decided it would be a great idea to take us to a Yankees game for my birthday. It was likely to be the only change that he would ever get to go to a professional baseball in his life. In proper tradition we ate hot dogs and cracker jacks. We sang along with the 7th inning stretch and were having a great time, but up until about then it was about as boring of a baseball game as you could watch. There were hardly any hits all day. It got much more exciting once people started realizing that the Yankees were not replacing pitcher because the David Wells was on pace to pitch a no hitter. The tension was high the last two innings but David Wells pulled it off and pitched a Perfect Game.

My father recently turned 60 and for his Birthday I got him an autographed photograph of David Wells from that perfect game. Little did I know that my mailbox was about to be flooded with email offers for all sorts of sports memorabilia.

A Little About Me

I am no stranger to Email Market. I am well acquainted with Constant Contact, iContact, Vertical Market and the likes. I currently work as a consultant and developer for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so helping sales reps send out targeted email campaigns is part of a normal day of work for me.

I actually have more expertise in this area than I generally like to admit. I have even built integrations with email marketing services. Heck, I regularly attend meetings for a programming groups I belong to in the offices for one of the major email marketing firms.

So obviously I am not someone you would expect to get easily upset from receiving promotional emails from a website where I have made a recent purchase.

So What Got Me Upset

Right off the bat they started sending me 2 emails a day. Even companies I regularly buy things through I do not want to get more than one email a day from. After just a couple days I decided enough was enough when I received 3 emails from them in a 5 hour span. Two of the emails were both called 'The Deal of the Day' with different products. I opened one of the emails up, quickly scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked on the unsubscribe link.

Before my order was even received they had managed to get me to unsubscribe from their mailing list. The one thing that these emails did was to ensure that the next time I am looking to get a present for a sports fan I will not order it through there website.

By definition the emails I received were not Spam and could be called Targeted Emails. I had ordered a product form their website and I probably did leave a check box somewhere checked that gives them the rights to send me emails.

Everyone who has ever purchased a product through your website is a pretty broad target. Its one thing to periodically send an email to every contact in your database for a major marketing campaign. There are a number of companies that send me monthly promotional emails and when I receive them I am glad to open them and check out what deals they are running. But, its another to be constantly send out email blasts to everyone you can. It's like going to an archery rang with a sub machine gun. After a couple seconds there isn't going to be much left of your target.

If your going to be aggressive in your marketing you need to make sure you are being smart about it. Amazon does a great job at this. I get an email from them everyday, but it is catered to me based off the information they have gathered from me. For example, if I have ordered several books by one author, they will include any new books by that author in their message.

On other end of the spectrum are the emails I was getting in my story earlier. This company did not have much information about me. But, instead of using the little information they had wisely they just throwing every single deal that they had at me.

There products are categorized by sport team and player. So I would expect to see emails from them about other items signed by David Wells or other Yankees players, maybe even for other teams that David Wells has played for. Around spring training and the world series I they could send an email on a big baseball promotion. In addition to what I ordered I gave them a North Carolina address, so they could use that and send me any promotions they have for College Basketball, the Hurricanes or the Panthers.

Instead they sent me emails for Deals like half off on a Signed Dan Mariano Jersey. Nothing against Dan Marino, but from the information they have about me I am in no way more likely to order a Dan Marino Jersey than anyone else that has ever bought a thing from them. In fact I am much less likely to order that than someone from Florida, or who has purchased a Dolphins or other related item like another signed Football Jersey.

It would certainly appear that they sent that deal out to everyone in there database. That would be fine if the promotion had a broad appeal, like a special sale on Football items for the SuperBowl. But unless the Dolphins just won the superbowl or there was some other news on Dan Marino that i missed, you would want to send an email about a sale on his Jersey to a fairly targeted audience.

The Changes at JCPenny

For those of you who don't know JCPenny hired a new CEO, Ron Johnson. He is credited as the architect for the Apple Stores and well as Target. There are high expectations for him to dust off the image of the now lack luster Department Store and make it shine.

One of the first changes that were made was to revamp the core of there marketing campaigns. They would ditch the numerous disjointed promotions that they were constantly bombarding their shoppers with for a single more concise monthly campaign.


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