There Is No Excuse for a Legitimate Company to Spam

Somehow, a few years ago, the health club I used to frequent called Scioto Reserve Golf and Fitness, Powell, OH got my email address.  Most likely from the application form.

Now, I never gave them permission to email me anything other than membership info.  However, one day I started getting “What’s New” and “Special Offers” and other marketing/promotional emails.  Sometimes multiple emails in the same day.  All from different email addresses.  Sometimes, not even Scioto Reserve domain addresses.  The emails were poorly designed and highlighted events and things I had no interest in.

Here’s two examples:

Note-this email was almost 44 inches long!

Sample Spam email 1
Click to enlarge
Sample Spam Email 2
Click to enlarge

Since I was a paying customer, I didn’t mind getting a few emails from them once in awhile.  But, not multiple emails every week.  Especially when I didn’t ask for them to begin with.  And, it seemed that my address was being passed around the Club.  After a few months of this, I had enough.  I started emailing each email sender a request to remove me from their list, since there was no way to do it in the actual emails (first strike against them).  Many of the emails were returned that the sending email was not a valid email (second strike)!

Finally (at least I thought at the time), I had enough and called the club manager.  At this point, I also cancelled my membership.  I figured if this is how they handled their business practices, what short-cuts were they taking with the rest of the club?  The Club Manager said she would make sure the emails were stopped.  Were they?  Of course not.

Instead, I got more emails.  Including from other health clubs in there management group (third strike).  That was the last straw.  It was time to take it up a notch.  I went ahead and contacted the spam lists and the website administrator.  Results?  Nothing.  Emails kept coming.

Eventually, I get an email from the Head Golf Pro at Scioto Reserve, Chris Casto.  My “remove me now” email actually got through!  He said he’ take care of it.  After he intercedes, most of the emails stop.  There were a few stragglers, but I sent them on to him and he gets them stopped.  Until…today.

Today another email arrived.  This time from the club’s management company.  “Great”, I think, “it’s starting all over again”.

Here’s what I received:

From: Kinsale Golf And Fitness Club []
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:50 PM
To: Rufo Samantha
Subject: Kinsale Golf/Social Test Drive
Just a Reminder:  You have not signed up for your Kinsale Test Drive!!
What is this?This is a way for you to Join as a Golf or Social Member with NO Initiation at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club.  
This is a Fantastic Opportunity that must be acted on NOW before time runs out.Your Test Drive would start as soon as you 
want but you have to get it started before September 1, 2009 to qualify.  Your Test Drive would last for 10 months and you 
would have all the benefits of your Golf or Social membership during your Test Drive.There is only ONE Risk to you.....the 
risk you will miss this opportunity if you don't act NOW.
Call Membership Services at 740-881-6500 for all the details today

Since I can’t get any satisfaction from this organization, I at least wanted to pass on the experience and provide a few take-aways for other businesses currently doing or contemplating email marketing:

1. Let ‘em go.

Once a customer has decided to leave, ask if there’s anything you can do to keep them, if not, let them go.  Begging, pleading, and discounting might work, but not for long.  Once the relationship sours, learn from it and do your best to make sure not to do the same things to your other customers.

2. Act like a business.

Email marketing may have been new 15 years ago, but it is not anymore.  That means if you are going to do it as a business, make it worthwhile and follow the rules.  No excuses!

-First, use correct list management with ways for people to subscribe and unsubscribe immediately.

-Second, only send to people that have given you permission to send to them.

-Third, use your business domain to send emails.  Not Hotmail, AOL, or Gmail.

-Fourth, only send an email if you have something to say.

-Fifth, watch how often you send emails.  More than one email in a day is too much.  And, more than 2 emails in a week will probably make people mad.

3. Get it together.

If marketing has one message and sales another, don’t send two emails in one day to the same address.  Combine the message, schedule different times, or segment the lists.  Just because people may be in different departments is no excuse not to get it together when it comes to marketing.

4. Get professional help.

If you are not sure how to effectively manage an email marketing program, get professional help.  Not only will professional help you increase your open and click-thru rates but we can decrease the number of unhappy unsubscribers.

Laugh Wednesday-Real Headlines. Real Amusement.

Sometimes I think we all need to say, “what the hey?” and have a good laugh.  Unfortunately, the writers of the newspaper headlines I am going to provide below probably didn’t realize they were writing comedy at the time.  On a side note, writers are asked many times to squeeze headlines to fit space requirements, which in turn can completely change the tone of the headline and promise a pretty different story.  My comments follow each headline.  Feel free to leave your own too.

Can you try to figure out what they were really trying to say?

“Kids Make Nutritious Snacks”
(Good thing I am watching my diet)

“Marijuana Issue Sent to Joint Committee”
(No wonder why we can’t get anything done)

“Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers”
(That will teach them)

“Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over”
(Hope he was well paid!)

“Denver Chapter Will Have Senator for Breakfast”
(That’s one way to deal with the healthcare and aging issue)

“Cops Quiz Victim in Fatal Shooting”
(Can they contact Harry Houdini too?)

“Jail Releases Upset Judges”
(Maybe they were involved in the Marijuana Committee?)

“City Council to Discuss Nudity in Private”

“Litigant Has No Right to Lay Advisers in Chambers”
(I should think not!  Unless of course they are all agreeable)

“Deans Promise to Stop Drinking on Campus”
(I thought the guy doing a keg-stand at the last party looked a bit old)

“FBI Adds to Reward for Killing Suspects”
(That’s one way to fight crime)

“School Board Member Suspected of Honesty”
(Wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?)

“Steamed Pudding and Crap Dip”
(What is this?  A recipe from a Survivor Cook Book?)

“High School to Colege?  It Depends”
(Yes.  Yes. It would for you)

“Socks Lower in Tokyo”
(Well, maybe the stock market had something to do with that)

Considering a website re-design? Read this 1st.

Redesigning your website look is something that every marketer has to consider at one point or another. Very few websites out there have the same design they did 5 years ago.

Your website is a reflection of who you are as an organization – and the design of your site will influence the perceptions, sales and response rates of your visitors. If your website is not taking an active role in your marketing, it may be time to consider a redesign.

When it comes to redesigning a website, there are two approaches a marketer can take:

1) Offer your visitors a series of small changes over time, tweaking the look and feel so that it always looks familiar, but is slowly evolving over time. Sort of like wearing a new shirt every day – your friends will recognize you, but will notice something “fresh” every day.

2) Offer a radical makeover. Sometimes a couple tweaks won’t cut it – especially if your website is out of synch with the rest of your brand, or if you really want to make people sit up and take notice. This approach is more like getting an extreme makeover – your friends will know it’s you, but you are projecting a different image of who you are.

Many times your budget will force you into picking one path or another.  Check back for web project management tips.  Or, leave your own.