I know, no one’s perfect, but the rising number of questionable marketing moments continue to inundate me. Every week I come across two, three, four, or five pieces of incorrect, questionable, or poorly conceived marketing communications that make me wonder how much I am valued by these companies and make me ask who is in charge of these brands.
This time I will be discussing an email from the children’s clothing company Carters as well as a web page from United Airlines. I want to stress that Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, but the mistakes pointed out are also mistakes that can be easily avoided.
A few weeks ago I made a purchase with Carters kids’ clothing, and in doing so I was opted into their email marketing mix… talk about too many communications.
One of the first few emails I received was an announcement about a new store opening “in your neighborhood”.
The Grand Opening I was invited to in my supposed neighborhood was actually 35 miles away and about a 50 minute drive from my home. Moreover, I am closer to five other Carters store locations, one being less than 5 miles from my house. Regarding the Black Friday part of the email, I received 5 or 6 additional emails promoting their Black Friday sales in a 3-day window. Overkill and bad targeting, you decide.
So what was the mistake here? Carters wasted their communication opportunity with me, increasing my likelihood of tuning out future communications from them. Missing the mark eventually leads to the spam folder or complete brand tune out, lost sales and revenue.
The second highlighted stumble is from United Airlines’ MileagePlus program. I logged onto their site on November 18th, due to an email or prompt I received about getting bonus points for converting hotel to air miles. The bad news for me was that when I arrived at the landing page on the 18th, all the copy on the page said that the bonus conversion opportunity ended 3 days prior. This disappointing experience could have been prevented with a simple fix in the backend of a web content management platform that would include setting up copy expiration rules. A simple tool and workflow process, executed correctly, would have avoided this type of communication error.
In this day and age when everyone is chasing the latest and greatest new marketing platform, tool, analytics, or engagement solution, sometimes spending more on the basics adds up to a greater customer experience than most might realize. Tools are only as good as the people controlling them and the systems in place to check output, editorial approval.
Both these examples again are symptomatic of not enough checks and balances and processes being in place. Speed seems to trumps accuracy today? How is it that over a three-day period, no one at United MileagePlus caught the outdated copy? And in the case of Carter’s, a retailer of this size, based on store size and sales, and the geography required to support one of their typical stores (not accounting for large variations in population density), may only look at a 10 mile radius to make a business case for opening a store that would meet sales requirements. So why is marketing disconnected from this simple business fact? I could see expanding to 15 miles or maybe pushing 20 miles for a new store marketing campaign, but 35 miles within a major city? Add to those facts I have purchased in-store with a credit card numerous times, each of those purchases being at either my closest store or at a store in a mall in New Jersey, meaning that they did not take the extra step or make the effort to know about my purchasing habits as one of their customers. They obviously are not focusing on the complete customer journey across all touchpoints.
Properly set up and planned technology implementations can avoid all of the above problems, so why do they continue to happen on what seems to be an increasing rate? This is for the marketplace to figure out, I believe I know why, but the solution requires a reimagining of how we engage customers.