Email Marketing Hall Of Shame: 3 Classic #Fails To Avoid

Email marketing is easy, right? It seems so simple. Yet some respected companies still make classic email marketing mistakes. Read on for an online marketing rant down memory lane.

Before there were AdWords, Facebook or LinkedIn targeting, there was venerable email marketing. In this current (tricked out) demographic targeting era, where we regularly model and market to complex “Personas” and their sub- “Personalities,”  it’s important to take a step back and remember the basics. Profile your customers by leveraging focused on-hand data. Tread softly. Treat users with patience and care. Segment email marketing lists properly and (above all) don’t auto-opt customers into lists they didn’t clearly elect to receive.

On April 18, I placed my first order ever, scoring a sweet passport holder money belt for my globetrotting dad. You will note from the screen cap’ of my inbox below that the item was shipped on April 25.  On May 3, ostensibly because TravelSmith was probing to see what would make me bite, they sent an email titled, “Does She Like To Travel?” That’s fine in that they seemed to know I’m a guy and must be checking to see if I might want to gift a female. That was an overly optimistic analysis.

Email Inbox

TravelSmith most likely does not use sophisticated enough corollary data methodology on my last name and address to give them any greater clarity on my household but, hey I thought, if they segment their lists that well and prospecting, great! I know of at least one another female Weintraub that has ordered from TravelSmith from that address, so, you never know. Then two days later, TravelSmith’s email marketers made it clear that they’re sucking random wind. Little did I know that soon they would begin marketing dresses and pocketbooks for ME.  Does dude look like a lady?

Fail #1: TravelSmith began an aggressive email marketing program soon after my first purchase, emailing me every 1-2 days. That in itself is way over-the-top. Do They really want to begin our new relationship by bombing me with that kind of annoying frequency? Be a bit more patient. See if I engage. Get to know me. Hello? Do I look like your upscale spam receptacle?

Fail #2: I most certainly did not opt into the content feed that resulted in my receiving the “Six Foolproof Ways…” mailing two days later. It’s possible I may have not unchecked the box to opt out of all emails when I made my purchase. Still,  it’s extremely presumptuous to auto-opt me into a content marketing feed without asking.  Ick… that’s the point where TravelSmith’s emails stopped being permission based. Read on, it gets worse in classic ways 🙂 .

#Fail 3: THEN I got the “Sundress YOU’LL Wear All Summer Long” email. Dude, I’m not a lady. This pertains to the basics of email marketing. One day TravelSmith wanted to know if there is a lady I want to gift. They seemed to know I am man…or not. Now they are emailing me as if I am a lady.  My name is Marty. It’s pretty easy to infer that I’m a guy. #WTF, TravelSmith?

Dude Looks Like A Lady Pic

I headed a little further down the pictures in my email, already planning this post. When I saw the lady’s sandals and the macrame purses, I reached for the opt-out link and my direct response receiver relationship with TravelSmith was permanently over. They’re lucky because, out of respect for fellow marketers, I did not report TravelSmith as spam or include the brand term in this blog post’s title tag.

Remember the email marketing basics, arguably the demographic targeting roots of our industry:

  • Segment your lists. Carefully matriculate user attributes you believe you know.  Though my name is “Marty,” a dude’s name, TravelSmith probed my gender and perhaps other females with my last name.  That may seem clever to their marketers, however it’s kind of a turn off for me to get email selling me women’s’ clothes.
  • Start new email relationships slowly.  It’s not worth risking a turn-off with the appearance of spammy frequency. Every other day is WAY too much to ping a new customer.  Chill Rambo.
  • Don’t play fast and loose with peripheral subscriptions. Agreeing to receive offers and deals, during an eCommerce shopping cart purchase, does NOT mean you can sign me up for you blog.

What’s the most annoying email marketing experience to grace your inbox? Let us know :).

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Stay Connected