An Email Marketing Case In Point

And now, it’s time for a little reader participation…

In this column I typically focus on case studies in the traditional sense. I pick a company and look at its email marketing objectives, describe how the campaign was carried out, and reveal any results I can get my hands on.

But this week, I’d like to present you with something different. One of your fellow readers, Madigan Pratt, passed along a mailing sent to him by, a computer and electronics retailer. Pratt had some strong things to say about the mailing (I’ve included his reply below), and I’m curious as to what you all might have to say about it as well.

So now, it’s your turn to critique this mailing. Ready? Here it is:

    Subject: Lives!

    Dear customer,

    As you may recall, I sent you an email about five weeks ago about the tough times for dot-com companies and the tough times we were experiencing here at Amazingly, about 7,000 of you sent us, well, they were pretty close to love letters, in response. Today I am thrilled to be able to tell you that it now appears that, like The Rolling Stones, we will indeed be here forever.

    We have just announced that our friends at PC Connection have agreed to acquire your favorite company, The best part is that we will remain and we will remain in our gorgeous headquarters town of Kent, Connecticut. Thus, we will continue to do business with you as we always have, with a deep commitment to you, our customers, with our rather healthy sense of humor, and with the enormous resources that will now be available to us through the PC Connection family. And yes, the gerbil stays. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

    The most immediate impact this will have on our business is that, effective immediately, we have access to tens of millions of dollars of inventory on a daily basis. This will help us speed your orders on their way to you much sooner. The gerbil brought in some of his buddies to work in the warehouse, so we now have many more hands (paws?) available there as well.

    Needless to say, we are awfully excited about this. PC Connection is a company we have long admired, and to say that this is a good fit is quite an understatement. So, the bottom line is that you are stuck with us. We just won’t go away and we plan on finding new and even more clever ways to entertain you as you shop for a very long time to come. As a matter of fact, we would really appreciate it if you could help us name this silly gerbil as we are all getting tired of calling him, “Gerbil”. You can do this at:

    Thanks again for all your support over the past six years. It has been an honor serving you and getting to know you.

    Darryl Peck
    Founder, CEO & President (forever, really!)

    Visit us at

Now, here’s Pratt’s response:


    I read the following sentence from your letter, and it makes me feel all warm & cozy —

      “Thus, we will continue to do business with you as we always have, with a deep commitment to you…”

    Then I look at the salutation, which reads —

      “Dear customer,”

    And I think, “Who is he kidding?

    You’re a .com company, and I’m someone who has purchased from you before. You know me, or at least should know me, and you can’t even address me by name! No personalization! Shame on you.

    Being in the electronics marketing business, you should know better. I do hope this letter gets back to your desk, because you should be aware of how your marketing department is performing.

    Good luck on your new “partnership”!


So… Suppose you’re a consumer who has received this mailing. What do you think? Is addressing you by name necessary? Is the subject line appropriate? Any other comments you’d like to make about this “campaign” — about the content of the message, length, tone, and so on?

Please send them along, and I’ll summarize them in a few weeks.

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