Spam is a marketing monster and there are plenty of companies that have willing engaged its dark side. Of course, not all email marketing nightmares are dreamed-up intentionally, plenty of failed strategies are conceived by companies that think they can be their own email marketing service provider or hire a cheap one offering unbelievable bulk rates. Some snafus are entirely accidental, a culmination of bad decisions, or lazy marketing. Here are five notorious cautionary tales
It was December of 2011, the darkest month, but for American’s, also a month filled with hope. In the month of December, miracles are possible, and the illustrious New York Times was definitely begging for a miracle when its marketing campaign backfired and instead of sending an email to 300 recently defected customers offering them a special deal to consider re-subscribing, it contacted 8 million active subscribers.
Any mis-sent message is embarrassing, despite how irrelevant its subject matter may be, but announcing to an entire subscriber base that a better offer will be made available to other customers, the ones with fleeting loyalties is marketing humiliation—the equivalent of a misaddressed love letter.
While employees scrambled to do damage control, apologizing profusely, the damage was done once the e-mail’s content was read. Loyalty does not take kindly to disloyalty in return, and a less well established company would have run the risk of losing significant business if it had made the same mistake.
As far as spam-crazy US companies go, Verizon takes first place. With a sordid history and expansive access to private information, they don’t appear to care whether they’re considered trustworthy by their customers.
In a hypocritical twist, the company that had once blocked emails from European-based IP addresses unless the recipient marked the sender as known, was discovered to have at least 26 spam violations, and 16 spam gangs using its servers, making Verizon sound just a little too much like the villain in a Sci-Fi movie.
To a certain degree, folks are accustomed to being harassed by advertisers and marketers, but Verizon is an enormous company and their lackadaisical policies should be avoided by anyone hoping to use the internet for genuine attention and value based customer communication.
This is a company notorious amongst its users for its classless handling of the nuanced web. Worse then Facebook, because its users feel it provides essential and necessary services—business contacts and job offers, to name a few—LinkedIn has a reputation as one of the most easily hacked sites, resulting in frequent breeches in customer privacy.
If that weren’t enough to offend, LinkedIn sends more emails that anyone would consider necessary, and ensures that changing the settings for receiving those emails is unnecessarily difficult.
What’s easy to hack, sends so many messages it verges on spamming, and has a brand that’s frequently and convincingly replicated by actual spammers causing headaches and safety risks for its ever growing database of users? That’s right: LinkedIn.
In the most recent episode of LinkedIn fraud, an email claiming to promise a new connection redirects, when clicked, to a compromised website with a malicious Blackhole exploit kit and then another where the Cridex info-stealer downloads.
There is only one message to receive from all of these examples. If an email marketing service is good, it won’t generate spam. Spam is unwanted email, and unwanted email is just as bad as cold calling, or junk snail mail, or any other form of low return, cheap to buy marketing. Maintaining high-quality, interesting and pertinent communication with customers is the only way to ensure the results will be good.