Why can’t we use lists from our other businesses?

A beloved retail outlet was being sold to a new owner in four months. The current owners wanted to invite their customers to shop before the change of ownership. “Let’s do an email blast. We have an email program, but we haven’t used in several years,” said one of the partners.

The marketing consultant entered the user name and password to prepare the email campaign. The account had been closed by a manager over a year and a half earlier. Customer service provided several options. First and easiest would be to open a new account and start over but the 4,000 names in the database would be lost. Next, was to contact the former manager who originally opened the account and get it transferred back to the business owners. The third and most time-consuming option was to contact the email provider’s legal department to verify that the account really belonged to the business, not the former employee. This option could take several weeks or more, robbing the business of its window of opportunity.
After several unsuccessful attempts to speak with the employee who had set up the account, the consultant contacted the email company’s local account representative. The representative was familiar with the business and agreed to help move the transition along. In a week, she had access to the account.

During the status review, the consultant recapped the issues with the email account. The two men admitted that they had turned over the email to employees because they felt print advertising was more productive. She presented the strategy for the campaign and started a review of the databases. There were three lists. One was for the retail outlet, but two belonged to other businesses owned by the partnership. “We should send email to all three lists,” one partner said. “After all, people on the list know that all our businesses are related. They won’t mind.” The consultant objected, citing concern for SPAM complaints and poor results. However, the owners were adamant.

The email was configured and sent. The designer pushed send and within 15 minutes a dialog box popped up announcing that the account had been closed by the provider for a violation of the terms of service. It demanded a call to the Usability Team to discuss the issue.

The consultant made the call. The company cited the large number of “unsubscribes” and extensive SPAM report as part of the problem. The other problem was using two of lists since the subscribers had opted-in to get information from for the other businesses, not the retail outlet. The consultant noticed the 1,000 “opens” on the report. She negotiated to keep the “opens” as the new opt-in list and the representative agreed. The problems had cost the business two weeks in the tight schedule and a loss of revenue.

The take aways…
• Your opt-in database is the lifeblood of your business. Guard and nurture it carefully.
• Talk to your customers often. But only share meaningful news and relevant offers.
• Employees come and go. Make sure accounts are in the business name.
• It is critical to keep your passwords secure and up to date. You never know when you will need them.

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© Marilyn McCray 2013-2015