Don’t be That Guy #3 – Make The Pie Higher!

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It’s that time of year again, when people are going to open their wallets and spend money on Christmas presents and retailers crank up their email engines in the hopes of grabbing their piece of the pie.

In the face of a struggling economy and general hard times, it is hard to avoid the temptation to indulge in various mailing tactics that are not best practices, like dusting off older segments of mailing lists, significantly increasing mail volume, sending mail across channels where permission was not explicitly given, buying mailing lists, etc.

Some may argue that there is no harm engaging in squirrely practices in the interest of making the sale now and then cleaning up the results later – immediate gratification always feels good and makes the financial quarter’s bottom line look great – but… there are costs which may not be immediately obvious. One of them is annoying customers into abandoning a brand they used to love.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a major retailer that I’d bought from many times, over the course of 6 years or so. I was accustomed to getting an email a day with their special offer du jour, but in the weeks before Christmas they started sending me 2 a day, and then one day hit me with 3 in the space of a few hours. The third email was not only the tipping point for me in volume, but was also somewhat misleading. I unsubscribed in a fit of deep annoyance and never went back.

Consider that over the years I had spent considerable money at this retailer and was quite prepared to continue doing so: they offered a good product at great prices along with good customer service, which is a hard combination to beat. In their attempt to get a larger share of the Christmas pie, though, they lost my future business and also that of my friends to whom I had been enthusiastically referring the site. Was the possible immediate short-term gain worth the loss of steady future business and referrals? Probably not.

Now is not the time to get creative with bad mailing practices: the amount of marketing mail people get this season is unarguably larger than normal which is already predisposed to being aggravating: irritating folks into making your marketing disappear – possibly for ever –  is never a good idea. Buying mailing lists is never a good idea. Sending to stale old segments is never a good idea. All it takes is a couple of clicks from your recipients to make bad things happen to your good lists. Don’t be that guy!

Now is the time to make sure your lists are cleaned up, as low on invalid users as you can make them, and as fresh as possible.  It is time to make sure your bounce handling is able to keep up with your volume. It is time to increase engagement and ROI by sending compelling email offers that people want, to people who asked to get them. Relevance, engagement, clean lists are the mantra!

May your email flow cleanly and profitably this Christmas season!


(“Make The Pie Higher” is a poem composed of random Bushisms)

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Gordon Patchett

Excellent message Anna. People in the marketing game are customers too and like everyone else get fed up with inbox abuse. Even though I try to be a bit more forgiving of the more aggressive marketers than a more hypocritical me, it still grates when I see marketers ignoring the basics. It’s not a right to be invited into someone’s inbox, it’s a privilege and an expensive thing to abuse.


Annalivia Ford

The old “treat others the way you wish to be treated yourself” concept seems to have been largely forgotten.


[…] I said in my previous post, the best thing marketers can do during the holidays is to follow best practices, to not make […]


[…] I don’t mean to underplay how difficult it can be to consistently deliver marketing so relevant that your customers consider it a service. Marketing in the age of the empowered consumer can be challenging.  As my colleague, Annalivia Ford, has so eloquently said, no one wants to be the guy who annoys a customer into abandoning a brand they used to love. […]

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