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Yuck! Dissecting a Really Bad Email

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I received the email below today. Unfortunately, I receive many like it daily. I am a believer in email and the value it can bring to an integrated demand strategy, but the email below (and others like it) has many issues. So, I decided to dissect it and point out some of the issues I see. (I changed the names to protect the guilty). Brace yourself!


Hi, Carlos,

Before the holiday season gets busy, I wanted to check in to see how online video and mobile applications fit into your 2013 plans.



As I'm sure you've heard, ABC Company recently acquired DEF Company---the world's fastest cloud transcoding technology. With the addition of DEF Company, ABC’s suite of cloud content services helps content publishers deliver video content more effectively on every screen.



Do you have any time this week or next to discuss how online video and mobile applications fit into your 2013 plans? If it's more convenient, you can set aside time in my calendar using the link below.



Best Regards,



Mary the Sales Rep

Digital Media Specialist

ABC Company.  www.abccompany.com 123 Main St. Boston, MA 02110 ?P: 617 -123-4567

Click here to schedule a 15-minute meeting with me

Breaking Down the Email


Now that you have had the opportunity to read the email, let’s dissect the many issues with it.



Hi, Carlos,

Before the holiday season gets busy, I wanted to check in to see how online video and mobile applications fit into your 2013 plans.



I do like the personalization, but the email assumes that I am not busy.  Furthermore, the email assumes that I have made video and mobile part of my 2013 plans.  That is not to say I have not, but to assume something about me without having prior contact with me is a big gamble.

A better approach would have been to provide a call to action in a 2-minutes video on the “Top 5 Reasons” why mobile and video should be a part of your 2013 marketing and sales plan.  Give me some thought leadership. Provide some information that will educate me and potentially pique my interest.



As I'm sure you've heard, ABC Company recently acquired DEF Company---the world's fastest cloud transcoding technology. With the addition of DEF Company, ABC’s suite of cloud content services helps content publishers deliver video content more effectively on every screen.

The content is again presumptive---I have not heard about the acquisition and have never heard of their company. I can only guess that I am part of a purchased list and therefore received this email.  With a little more work on their end, this organization would have seen that I have never visited their site, engaged with any of their content nor had any social interaction.

Secondly, what does "transcoding" mean? I am a marketer, not a techie. Keep it simple for me! Again, this just exemplifies how this email is really not intended for me.

Do you have any time this week or next to discuss how online video and mobile applications fit into your 2013 plans? If it's more convenient, you can set aside time in my calendar using the link below.

Unfortunately, time is at a minimum right now, so I do not have 15 minutes (and let’s be honest we all know it would not be 15-minutes) to lend to learn about a company I have never heard of and that uses words that I do not understand about something that may or may not be part of my 2013 plans. Also, I am not the one in my company that manages the marketing planning, so I am all together the wrong contact.

Additionally, with a little digging on social media, Mary would have seen that for the next two weeks I am traveling as I have sent two tweets about my excitement about my upcoming travel to meet with clients. I realize the email she sent is most likely a form email, but if so that defeats the personalization aspect.

In looking at this email, let me provide a version that would have been more likely to catch my attention (even though I do not believe in using email as a conversation starter).

Hi, Carlos:

We have never had the opportunity to meet before, but I have followed some of your social media interaction and noticed that several times you have mentioned the use of video and mobile as a part of an organization's content marketing strategy.

I wanted to take this chance to send you the following link on a new video we produced that presents the top 5 ways B2B organizations can incorporate mobile and video into their marketing plans. The video features the Acme Company, one of our customers, who shares how they improved the value of demand generation investments using this approach. Understanding how busy your schedule is, the video is less than 3-minutes long.

In the meantime, if there are any questions I can answer for you about mobile and video, feel free to email or call.

Thanks and best regards,
Mary the Sales Rep


Remember, when engaging our potential buyers it is vital to understand we must design our content for who they are, where they are and what they need, not design it with what we want to sell. If your content is not buyer-centric, your buyers will not engage.

Needless to say, Mary has not received a call back from me, only an unsubscribe.


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Carlos Hidalgo is CEO of The Annuitas Group the leader in the development of marketing & sales lead management processes. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of lead management process, demand generation and marketing automation and is passionate about helping their clients improve the return on their marketing and sales investments.

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Comments

  • by Geoffrey Anderson Mon Nov 19, 2012 via blog

    I get 4 or 5 of these a week. I really wish I knew where these people get my email address. But your analysis is spot on.

  • by L. Martin Mon Nov 19, 2012 via blog

    I love it that Carlos thinks that "Mary" has the time to research him and tailor an email that will personally engage him. And he assumes she will go on his Facebook page and see that he's traveling? LOLOLOLOLOL. (Talking about engaging your reader, I stopped reading this article the minute Carlos mentioned Mary going on his Facebook page. What a joke!)

  • by Matt Andresen Mon Nov 19, 2012 via blog

    I sent out 100+ of these a week. I hate sending them as I am sure other hate getting them, but I have not found a sound strategy. I spend most of the time trying to engage with them on social media and put the same content in the email that I am sharing with them on SM.

  • by Laurie Mon Nov 19, 2012 via blog

    i agree with most of your "dissection" but i would never open a link in an email from someone i didnt know.

  • by Miroslav Saracevic Tue Nov 20, 2012 via blog

    Very good analysis.
    Your version of this email is also far less aggressive.

  • by Brad Merrill Tue Nov 20, 2012 via blog

    Great analysis - I think we've all gotten emails like that. It seems like that little extra bit of effort would pay off, but no one wants to work for sales.

  • by Ed Brady Wed Nov 21, 2012 via blog

    Did it not "pique" your interest either?

  • by Mike OConnor Sun Nov 25, 2012 via blog

    Carlos, thanks for this dissection. I liked it generally and agree with most of it.

    Your version of the email is improved but still doesn't capture attention quickly.

    I think email from strangers is okay with an honest, conversational tone that's quick to read and gets to the point. I've latched onto some offers I liked because of emails out of the blue. Most of them aren't built well, which I think is a big part of their negative rep. (I don't write emails for a living or sell them, just saying. I design web pages.)

    Your example is too wordy, in my opinion, even though its relatively. The second para, esp., could be padded with fewer words and made more skimmable.

    I get the point, though, and thank you for this post. These should be dissected and improved more often.

    Mike

  • by Ken Sun Nov 25, 2012 via blog

    I think it is also to be sure the grammar and punctuation is correct when you send out an email. Therefore, I Carlos should have had the email checked and had someone familiar with grammar and punctuation insert an apostrophe into the word "organizations" in the first paragraph.

  • by ISR/Market Developer Mon Nov 26, 2012 via blog

    A very poor critique.

    Carlos, you're better than this - ISR's and Market Dev pros make commission when they close. And that only happens when they schedule a meeting. If you're going to criticize, get at the PURPOSE of the email, not just the content. Nobody cares whether you dislike it, we care if it's ineffective!

    And, for that matter - what was the subject line? That's really (REALLY!) important! (as is the time of day and day of week - there's a lot of strategy that goes into this kind of messaging)

    Just because you read a lot of marketing email doesn't make you any authority on effective composition or execution. (That's self-evident from your re-write.)

    I have an MA in ad copywriting from the finest J-school in the world and a job at a leading Austin-based tech company calling on the C-suite of top global retailers and manufacturers. Here is my critique of your critique:

    1. You consult sales teams!? Where the hell is your close - your call to action? (Unless your email is part of an ongoing conversation or an extended campaign, you didn't write to just share a link - at least if you want to get paid.) Steve Kopcha said it best: "Good ads sell stuff."

    2. Don't flatter yourself. I'll spend 10 seconds scanning your LinkedIn profile to figure out title/role/industry orientation for my messaging. You'll spend 10 seconds reading my email to see if it piques (not 'peaks') your interest. The time evens out; doubling my research time to double the resonance and personal connection with you will not double my open rate or the amount of time you spend reading or considering my message.

    3. Your message lacks 'teeth' as well as a close. "The risk of insult is the price of clarity." Aggressive/action-oriented messaging with unique wording stimulates Broca's area of the brain. Read more in any of the Wizard of Ads' three NYT best sellers. I worked for him. He's as crazy as he is brilliant. And he's as brilliant as he is right.

    4. Waaaay too long. Choose your aphorism: "Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated." (FDR) or "I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one." (Pascal)

    5. Chunk text for ease of scanning (esp on mobile devices) with bullets

    6. Add value at every touch - not just after the click.

    7. Good luck with the unsubscribe. Our system puts you back in rotation after 6 months. We humans often ignore the system, pick up the phone, and call you for a pleasant conversation about why you should meet with us - to listen to info about our technology.

    Also, I reviewed your LinkedIn. Plain English starts at home. Try rewriting your summary in language someone outside marketing could understand, and you're suddenly in the same boat we are - communicating complex technical concepts to a bratty, ADHD, type-A 12-year-old who is smarter than you, refuses to listen, and drives a BMW 7-series.

    "Strategic Marketing Professional with a focus on increasing revenue through the development of strategic marketing programs and lead management optimization."

    = Innovative, strategic marketing leader who lifts revenue through sales pipeline refinement.

    Wait, was your version for SEO? O_o

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