All About Email - The Last Word in Email Publishing

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A cautionary tale

I heard a very sad story this week. We used to have a client - a small event, and we worked with them for 4 years. During that time we helped them build a database of interested parties – all properly opted in – of just over 10,000 people. It became a significant factor in their marketing and ticket sales, and the event went from strength to strength. We built them a professional website, and advised them on content, and driving traffic to it.

All in all it worked really well for all concerned. The organisers were not necessarily that expert in digital dialogue, but they were smart enough to appreciate what we were doing.

Then there was a change in the senior event management. We were not sure about working with the new chairman and decided to withdraw. We did however offer our advice for free to enable them to continue using email successfully – we also offered to guide them through the new legislation – but we never heard back from them.

It transpires they handed over the email side of things to their new web designers – similar field, so they were of course well qualified to manage it (not).

The new people changed everything – look, name etc and sent out a long and boring email under the new brand. Right at the bottom they asked the recipients to resubscribe – unnecessarily as all recipients were properly opted in, as well as having an exisiting business relationship with the event and its organisers.

They broke 2 major rules (and lots of minor ones):

1. You never use an email to deliver a major branding change – you might instead use an email under the existing brand to warn of the upcoming changes.

2. You never hide an important call to action – you make it the focal point of the email.
And this is where the story gets really sad. The database shrank from over 10,000 to around 300 – 4 years of work destroyed in one moment of autocratic management and professional incompetence – there’s no other way to describe it.

Shortly afterwards, the event was cancelled.

The moral of this story is simple. Email is too important to be handled by amateurs. Cost cutting in email will come back to bite you. If you are going to do it, do it properly.

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