More E-Tales of Horror

OK, OK — you’ve sent me volumes of email requesting still more e-tales of horror. Ask, and ye shall receive! Again I warn you, these are not for the faint of heart.

Luckily (or not) I have many more tales of woe to impart to you, dear readers. So kick back, relax, and get ready for more e-tales of horror. All the stories are true, but names have been changed to protect the embarrassed.

Sam’s Tale of Woe

Sam was the quiet type. He kept to himself as the marketing manager for a large retail cataloger that had been involved in email marketing for only a few short months. Sam was feeling particularly humble because he’d experienced a few email snafus recently and couldn’t afford to make another mistake. Wendy, his boss, was on the warpath. She’d delivered a clear message to Sam: This was his last shot at making things right. His task was to deploy new HTML creative to his house list of 750,000 to promote fall catalog specials.

A small team of competent copywriters and talented designers did the creative in-house. The creative was quite impressive. It was completely on brief and integrated well with offline efforts. Sam’s role was to direct design and copy. Under Sam’s supervision, his internal team was expected to get the job done right.

The email promo the team designed contained several images but no text links. You can guess what happened next. Each and every one of those image links was broken, because the hosting solution server went down. The email looked pretty odd when you opened it — just those white boxes with little red Xs. Broken images. No offer was visible because everything was contained in those broken images.

This mistake cost the company many thousands of dollars and had a negative effect on recipients’ perception of the company.

What could have saved Sam, or at least salvaged the promo? If the design had included text independent of graphic images, customers might have seen the offer and the call to action. Sam took an unnecessary risk by not including any text with links to the Web site. (Some catalogers are still known to design promos with multiple images and no text. Hopefully they are reading this!)

Renee’s Tale of Remorse

Renee is circulation manager for a large East Coast publisher. She has been working diligently on their email marketing efforts ever since they began. Renee has been untouched by email horror until… (You knew it was only a matter of time, dear readers, before Renee experiences her own email horror.)

Well, Renee just sent her final files to the list broker who is handling her large acquisition campaign. Everything has been tested thoroughly (so she thought). The campaign was ready to rip.

One thing Renee neglected to mention to anyone was that she had included a toll-free number in her email promo for subscription orders. Oops.

A day after the campaign was deployed, Renee got a nasty voice mail from one of their customer service reps. Apparently the remove link was broken, so people were calling the phone number published in the promo to request they be removed from the list. Not only were the recipients annoyed that they had to go through this extra effort, the customer service department wasn’t prepared, or able, to deal with the requests. Renee felt like the world was crumbling down around her.

What should Renee have done? She should have provided an alternative to a broken remove link as a courtesy to the email recipients. Having explanatory text and providing a couple of opt-out options is a good idea. Next time, she’ll include some verbiage in the remove link area, such as, “As a second option, please click here and type ’Remove’ in the subject line.”

Like to hear more e-tale horror stories?

We have even more than we can publish here on ClickZ. Click here to sign up for our e-letter.

Do you have an email horror story to share?

If so, drop me an email at Who knows, I may even use it as an example in a future article! Your name and company, of course, will not be referenced… that is, unless you want it to.

That’s it from me this week — so long until December 4.

Until then, good luck with your campaigns!


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