404 Email Not Found

The Wife and I got fancy new Blackberry phones this week and I am in love. I told The Wife that I still loved her more than our new phones, but it’s close. This type of positive reinforcement nearly had me sleeping on the couch in the basement for a few days, but there’s a TV, a beer fridge, a PS3 and my Rock Band gear down there, so it’s cool. Why do I love my new Blackberry so much? Integration! I now have direct access to my Hotmail, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and text messaging accounts all from a device that is smaller than an iPad! I know, y’all are thinking, “welcome to 2008 Joel, I already have a Droid that contributes processing power to the SETI project when I am not doing advanced calculus.” I had the Pearl for the last two years, and really, it just felt like a fancy-pants phone and not an integrated mobile communication device. I now have enough technology to transmit instructions to the Mars Rover. Huzzah!

As always the next question is; what the heck does this have to do with direct marketing and what not? I know you love your geek toys but why should I care? It’s simple. I’ve been working with a whole slew (if that’s the appropriate collective noun) of email marketing gurus on some customer campaigns and we’ve talked quite a bit about development and deployment and how something appears correct on one platform but can be completely off on another. You might make excellent copy for Outlook that comes out blank on Hotmail even though they are both from the same company. You might have something that looks awesome on an iPhone but just doesn’t work for the Blackberry. I cannot stress how important it is to understand that people interact with communication technologies differently and that it is essential to be as agnostic as possible when using email as a marketing tool.

Right before the tax deadline, the Wife and I signed up for a Roth IRA for 2009. Although we were under the gun to get it completed for taxes, we set it up online in minutes. It was really slick. Minutes later my phone buzzed with my email confirmation from the company managing our account. Header information is there, but the body of each note (there were two of them) was completely blank. On the hotmail account all the necessary information was there—but on ye olde Blackberry not a scrap of text—or even an image. In this scenario it isn’t a problem, but if you want to market to someone that accesses their email on a phone, you could have huge problems.

If you are renting a list and running a campaign to potential new customers, you really only have one shot to market to me via email and that is when I check my inbox. If I am sitting on the couch Monday night watching Chuck (please renew this show, NBC) and an email comes in, I am going to check it immediately—unless something cool is going on and then I’ll wait until the commercials. If that message is from someone I don’t have an existing relationship with and it’s blank, I am going to select “delete on handheld & mailbox” and it’s gone. Let’s be honest, does anyone really think “oh, I am curious what this blank advertisement is for, I had better head right over to a computer and see what it says.” So while you have spent money on acquiring a list, money on developing an enticing message and creative offer, and money for deployment, if you don’t understand deliverability you are going to lose customers right off the bat. It would be like sending a postcard mailer and not running NCOALink® on a file before mailing. A bunch of your customers just won’t get the message.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta email this guy about a Nigerian wire transfer deal I just got on my phone.

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One Response to “404 Email Not Found”

  1. Jesaka Long says:

    Hi Joel ~ I just found your blog through Eric Kibel. You had me hooked when you mentioned getting a new Blackberry. When my contract was up, I traded my Blackberry for an iPhone–and lasted about a week! Now I’ve got the Blackberry Bold 9700 and just love it. My email habits seem similar to yours and we both know many, many people make those same decisions you detailed here. As someone who writes email content, I’ll definitely be sharing this post with clients and reminding them they need to be “agnostic.”

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