Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Advice for Cross Media: Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should.

I received an annoying email from HarryandDavid this morning. This was definitely not an accident. I didn’t like it and here’s why.

The HarryandDavid Harvest 2010 catalog showed up in my mailbox yesterday, complete with Intelligent Mail Barcode and a note to the Postmaster to deliver in the proscribed two-day window.

When the IMB data alerted the mailer that the catalog had been delivered, the email dropped. This morning’s email, clearly, was a “follow-up” to the catalog mailing. Cross-media at it’s best.

So what’s the problem? No problem at all with the system. In fact, it’s brilliant and a good reason for direct marketers to adopt the IMB now, even though its use isn’t required until May 2011.

The problem was with the creative in the email. H&D has information about me and they just couldn’t wait to let me – or anybody strolling by my computer -- see it.

The subject line was good. A message about your Harry and David account … Show me somebody who doesn’t at least look at email about their “account,” and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t have email. So, yes, I took a look.

The message told me that my “Personal Giftlist is now online” and offered me two quick links so I could “review and update” the list. The email explained that the links would lead to my “private, secure listing.” I had no intention of doing H&D’s record keeping for them, so I ignored the invite and was about to close out. But then, a bit further down, I saw my son’s name in big capital letters, along with a short description of a gift I sent him and his family four years ago.

If this was a private, secure listing, how come the meat of the data showed up in the body of the email! H&D explained they were listing names of “up to five people” to whom I had previously gifted H&D products. They were doing this for me, you see, because they didn’t want me to ever again forget to send a gift. Excuse me!?

That’s too much information. Imagine where this little email might take somebody who happened to see it, by accident or otherwise.

So, yes, direct marketing technology – especially cross media – totally rocks. But, as always, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Emails are no place for a recitation of your customer’s relationships. Before we flex our digital muscles, let’s consider “how much information is too much information” and leave the online personal stuff to Facebook.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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