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• Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

A while back I wrote that email marketers need to do their homework about to who and when they are sending messages.  To say I am shocked that these companies did not read my article and immediately change their processes would be…an exaggeration.  If they paid any attention to the world of e-marketing they would have already done the research and I wouldn’t be ranting (again).

Now I’ve decided to name names.  Hopefully they have the sense to at least have a “Google alert” set up and will read this.  If you are one of THEM, congratulations for getting here.  The messages listed below were all received within one week, Sunday midnight to Sunday midnight and arrived outside of regular business hours (CST).

  • Dell Direct
    The good folks at Dell sent me two messages.  One arrived on Tuesday at 6:19 AM (not so bad) and another on Friday at 4:31 AM.  I like Dell.  I have and will use their products.  However, I am not a fan of these emails.  In my opinion, they lack focus.  I am overwhelmed by offers in multiple product lines and categories in the same e-mail.  My print preview showed them as being six pages long, that’s a lot of stuff for one email.  Try some segmentation.
  • Ebay
    They sent me a message on Friday at 12:40 AM encouraging me to list my car at ebay Motors.  I use ebay pretty often, but the only car related purchase I’ve made was a new keyless remote.  So, I’m not sure why they think I should sell my car, or why they think it’s on my mind at midnight – on a Friday.
  • JC Whitney
    The e-marketers at JC Whitney sent me email on both Tuesday and Friday, each at around 7:30 AM.  This is not nearly as bad as midnight, but for me – still ineffective.  The interesting thing is that while I did request a catalog nearly two years ago, I have never purchased anything from JC Whitney.  Further, I have never (to my recollection) clicked through from one of their messages.  Perhaps it’s time to clean up that list a bit.  I can guarantee your boss will not be so upset with a reduction in list size when your click-through-rate (CTR) climbs substantially after you trim the dead wood (that would be me) from your low-hanging fruit tree.
  • Photobucket.com
    Just one email from Photobucket, unfortunately it was a 5:30 am wake-up call.  Even if I was interested in having a photo site do my collages for me, I’m not thinking about it at that time of the morning.
  • Proflowers.com
    I really like Proflowers.  I like the products, I like the web site, love the customer service.  I have bought a lot of flowers from them.  I have even clicked through from emails to make purchases.  However, both of the messages they sent me during this particular week arrived around 6 AM.  At 6 AM, the only thing on my mind is “why did I stay up so late tweeting?” and “why is that alarm so loud?” Please keep your emails to the time of day when I am awake and within easy reach of my credit card.
  • Reunion.com
    I *think* I may have some info on this site, but can not recall the last time I visited.  I have certainly never clicked-through from an email.  These marketing geniuses sent me mail on Tuesday and again Wednesday at 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM.  I can assure you that mail coming in at at 2:30 in the morning, alerting me that somebody searched for my profile, will never be clicked on by me.
  • Southwest Airlines
    I have flown on your planes just once – and vowed to never do it again.  Sending me email at 5 AM telling me how great you you think are won’t change that.  Try sending me email at 10 AM telling me you realize that you have horrible customer service and that your customers are not cattle….AND that you are working to correct these problems.

In addition to the email marketing (loose use of the term) listed above, I did get a few that made a little more sense to me.

  • Thompson Cigar
    I am a customer – not an aficionado.  I buy perhaps, one medium sized box approximately every six months.  Two emails a week is serious overkill for me.  I am happy that emails arrive at 9 PM, it seems to be a reasonable expectation that someone who buys cigars online might be online at that time of the day.  I definitely recommend segmenting the mailing list into groups based perhaps on frequency and dollar amount of purchase.
  • TaxAct Online.
    I used this site to submit my 2007 taxes.  It was a fast, simple process.  I’ll probably use them again this year when the time rolls around.  They sent me just one email, which arrived just after 11 PM on Wednesday.  That’s not too late in the evening, but for me it is pushing the envelope of rational thinking.  I would prefer these arrived earlier in the day.

I feel compelled to give a special shout out to the people charged with sending the email newsletters at Ragan Communications.  This company earns it’s bread and butter teaching others how to communicate efficiently and effectively.  During the same one week time frame, I received 14 emails from them.  Admittedly, one of the mailings is titled “Daily Headlines” and I did subscribe to it.  Further I will admit that I did subscribe to the other mailings as well.  However, having made that disclaimer I have to say this: FOURTEEN EMAILS IN ONE WEEK!   Sorry, lost it there for a moment.  Ragan communicators – seriously, let me take a breath in between emails. When they first started to arrive, I eagerly read each one.  Now, I have a rule that moves your hard work to a folder to be skimmed when I have time to spare.  Today is Tuesday and the oldest one in the folder is from last Wednesday, there are 12 of them – 12.  Your message is being lost in the fray of a 100 other things – convince me that your weekly barrage is worth my time.  Good luck.

I have to ask; why do you continue to buy mailing lists?  E-marketers, please be more aware of where the lists you buy come from.  I wish I had kept some of the so unrelated-it’s-funny emails that I have gotten over the last few months so I could share them with you.  Alas, I have but the one that arrived this morning. The “Government Health IT Selection Committee” was kind enough to contact me today with this message: “Your position within the government IT community qualifies you to receive a complimentary subscription to Government Health IT Magazine – an exclusive publication from the publishers of Federal Computer Week.”  Yes, in my former life I owned a web design, hosting, ISP company and as such could have been called an “IT person.”  but I have never had anything to do with government or health related IT.  Additionally, for the last 18 months I have been (and hopefully will continue to be) employed as a marketing professional.  I would say this qualifies as lead generation failure.  This is why you can buy huge lists of email addresses for so little money.

As I prepared to write this, I discussed my “problem” of being woken up at all hours of the night by my smart phone going off when new email arrives with a few of my friends & co-workers.  Believe it or not, they suggested I get another email address and just not worry about it, or even worse – to tag it as spam.  I have used a fake address myself when I anticpate the company will be sending me spam.  But these are messages are not junk.  They just need some TLC, better timing and in some cases, better list management.  Just because I don’t want this stuff, does not make it universally spam.  There is a lesson here emarketers, if you don’t give your readers what they want, when they want it – you are a spammer in their eyes.

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10 Responses

  1. 1
    SEOAly  //

    Funny and useful…what a combination! One of these days the companies will realize that A) an e-mail received during the overnight hours is ANNOYING to those using SmartPhones; B) MANY people have spam filters set up to reject messages sent between 1:00 am and 6:00 am (which means people may never even see the messages anyway); and C) even those of us without the SPAM settings set up to filter messages based on time, STILL view these messages as SPAM and delete them without ever reading them.

    How do these companies, with such enormous resources, not understand that many view these messages no differently than we view telemarketing calls? Your most potentially loyal brand champions delete these messages as SPAM without ever reading them simply because they’re annoyed by the very idea of waking up in the morning to 15 e-mails that were sent at 4:00 am. Understand your market and basic consumer psychology, please! :)

  2. 2
    Margaret  //

    Hello Jack,

    This is Margaret from ProFlowers, yes, I do have a Google alert set up and I read your article. I don’t do email marketing so I can’t tell you the exact logic used in when they send out our promotional emails but I wanted to let you know that yes, we are listening to your feedback! We’re glad that even if our emails don’t always come at the optimal time that you are at least enjoying our products!

    Thanks,

    Margaret

  3. I have to wonder how many of those email were actually sent by the company involved and how many were sent by affiliates looking for a commission. A perfect example is the ebay one wanting you to sell your car. eBay would have that information in their database computers and, at least I would hope so, send you an email more tailored to your previous purchases. (At least they did with me when I used to buy stuff through them.) An affiliate marketer wouldn’t and would probably just send a generic “spend money via this link so I can get my percentages” email.

  4. 4
    Jack Leblond  //

    Great point Dr. Mike, you would expect more personalized emails from bigger companies, but much of what I receive is surprisingly bland.

  5. 5
    SriMathe  //

    my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with

  6. 6
    Jack Leblond  //

    Sorry to disappoint – the real lesson here is that there are no hard and fast rules to follow when it comes to e-marketing. What works for me, probably won’t work for you. Many of these companies just made general assumptions. The only way to know what works best for you is to test everything.

  7. Thanks Jack,
    My question: what happens when you have email subscribers all around the world? Eg: I am based in New Zealand – I have subscribers in England, Wales, USA, France and India (off the top of my head).

    At the moment I have only one general newsletter list, and have been Googling ‘list segmentation’ to find the best strategies to segment this list – and new subscribers.

    I do healing work – sensual and emotional – with relationship advice and healing. I am in the process of developing empowerment workshops and programs – and I already have a few ebooks for sale on my website.

    How do you recommend I segment, and send out to these subscribers?
    Thanks :-)
    Jacqui

  8. 8
    Jack Leblond  //

    Jacqui,

    If you haven’t already, take a look at this article; http://www.jackleblond.com/improve-conversions-by-20-with-list-segmentation/

    Not being familiar with your products or potential customers I can’t offer much intelligent advice, however it does seem logical that if possible you should send your newsletters so they arrive during the day and not overnight. The idea that email sitting and waiting first thing in the morning will be opened is a myth in my experience. I’d suggest grouping your subscribers by adjacent time-zones and having your system send them out on a schedule. Hope that helps.

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