Unlucky 13

Posted on October 06, 2013 by Sherryl Tarnaske

 Without a doubt, marketing automation is a fantastic platform for a brand to communicate with buyers based on contextual interactions. Many brands have enjoyed huge success in strategic integration with marketing automation to bolster digital strategies including responsive web and email design. Yet some brands still miss the importance of context. Without contextual content a brand’s efforts to engage new buyers risk becoming negative social blunders that turn people off.  
Here's how my recent experience played out:
On Friday, September 13th,  I was shopping out of town. I got lucky. I'd bought what I thought would be my new favorite brand of jeans. The brand spoke to me, and my efforts to buy socially responsible apparel. The quality of the product met my expectations of quality and price. The in-store brand ambassadors were helpful without being overbearing. It was SO perfect I gave them my coveted email address. You know, my REAL one. Not the one I use to get an offer or download a whitepaper without having to deal with the flood spam or sales calls that follow. 
I reviewed my first email with the scrutiny of a seasoned digital project manager. The email well-crafted, the design smartphone screen and passed me through to a website that supported that digital promise. My first experience with the digital version of the brand reflected with my in-store experience. Confident in my choice to share my email, I was optimistic about the possibility of developing a long-term relationship with this brand.
Then it started. 
During the four days after the first purchase, I received four email promotion offers, one for a 20% discount, the second for 40%, and last two for 20%. I chalked the frequency up to a new brand that was eager to get acquainted. All three emails were deleted without looking beyond the subject line. I did my best to see beyond the awkward communication zeal and look forward to some alone time before my second date with this brand.  
They kept talking when I had stopped listening.
My optimism for a budding relationship with the brand waned when the next 5 offers arrived. Each email had the same subject line, lacked any context to my name or my interactions with the brand. The time to deletion of each incoming message became exponentially faster with each attempt they made to reach me. Interest in the brand moved from buyer to a professional interest in monitoring this needly plea for attention. How long would take before they clued into the fact that I'm now ignoring them. 
Four more emails in the last 7 days with the same subject line—unopened. I'm still subscribed after 13 emails in 3 weeks, but I am no longer engaged in any positive way with the brand. Soon I'll unsubscribe, disengage all together and likely never make another purchase from that brand in-store or online. 
It is always disappointing when a promising experience falls back into late night infomercial style marketing—pushing repetitive information instead of communicating with buyers in context to device, location and relationship history.
Alas, there won't be a second date.


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