Back Off

I was minding my own business, figuring out what to write today, when along comes an unsolicited email with routes that go way, way back.

I received this email from a company called EntryPoint.

EntryPoint was formed when another company called Launchpad Technologies acquired PointCast Incorporated.

You must remember PointCast. They were the push technology folks who pushed a model the market didn’t want.

So here’s how this morning’s email started…

“Remember PointCast? You once registered to use our PointCast Network as your online news source. We now have a new name, EntryPoint Incorporated, and a new product called EntryPoint.”

Well, yes I did once register for Pointcast. But that was a long, long time ago.

And I registered – and then unregistered – for Pointcast, not EntryPoint.

So I guess EntryPoint acquired my name and email address as part of the purchase and figured that they could just pick up on the ‘relationship’ PointCast once had with me.

I don’t think so.

I imagine that EntryPoint could come up with some really good, legally defensible arguments as to why their email wasn’t really spam.

But who cares? If it feels like spam, it’s spam. The only useful definition lies in the perception of the recipient.

But EntryPoint is not alone in ‘breaking the rules’ of smart Net behavior right now.

In their rush to maximize sales during the holiday season, a lot of e-commerce companies appear to be sending out promotional emails much more frequently than usual.

A few months ago I was presenting at a conference on email marketing and a co-presenter, from a well-known e-commerce site, told how they had tested outbound email frequency during the ’98 Christmas season.

According to their experience, two or three emails a month worked well. But when they tested a group with an email every week, they began to experience some serious unsubscribing.

Surprise, surprise.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m receiving two or more emails a week from some companies right now.

Have I unsubscribed from their lists? No, I can’t be bothered. I just delete their messages as soon as they appear. As I’m still on their lists, they doubtlessly think I’m still interested. But I’m not. Just mildly irritated and generally indifferent.

The trouble is, too much volume from some companies spoils my inbox for everyone.

A more restrained email marketer may send me just two or three emails this November and December. But if their message arrives at the same time as I’m slashing and burning my way through a bunch of other promotional emails, they’ll likely get the worst of me.

The trouble with EntryPoint’s unsolicited email and the sudden increase in volume of email from e-commerce sites is this…

Both activities erode goodwill, diminish relationships and invite a hefty backlash.

Greed will do that. Rush for the here-and-now and never mind the future.

Right now, for the next few weeks, I’d advise some serious restraint.

Back off. Take the long view. Consider the long-term value of your customers. And treat them decently.

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