Chris Kranky

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Marketing 101: Annoy your customer with email

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Often the best way for a customer to learn about your service is by offering them a free trial. It certainly removes any remaining barriers for sign-up and you can stop selling and hope the customer finds your service useful enough to pay for it after the trial ends.

Unfortunately, free trials have the downsize that ‘free’ is simply too alluring and people will often half wittingly sign-up for a service with no real interest simply because of the prospect of getting something for free. It’s the dice a marketer rolls with a free trial. The ‘net only a very small percentage of those that sign up have the prospect of being a legimate customer.

But what I’ve been perplexed how these free trial companies hound me after the fact incurring both expense and generating a negative image of their company. For example, I tried out a new web conferencing service, played with it for exactly 10 minute and haven’t been back to their website for 3 months. Yet each week I get an email telling me about some great new feature that I don’t want and an enticing offer to sign-up now. I also signed up for a one of these free audio conferencing services, never used it, never even called the number provided. Now three months later, the company sends me a terse email telling me if I don’t use the service they’re going to cancel my account and delete all my settings.

This is all negative marketing. Clearly the people you want to market to are the people who are getting benefits from the free trial which roughly translates to those that are actively using your service. How hard is is to get a list of all the log-ons from your system in the last month and match that up with those that are a free trial and only send your nag message to those who are using the service?

The answer, not hard. But the real answer is your marketing person simply finds it easier to just blast out an email with a single click to all trial customers annoying the majority and striking only a handful of their intended targets. The negative consequences to this are hard to calculate. It’s not like someone is going to call and complain. Nonetheless, there is a negative implication.

Unfortunately, there is a lemmings mentality here, we’ve all been quasi-spammed by a service, product or company we’re not really interested in and just assume that we should be doing the same thing for our company. If you’re using an outbound email marketing company, big surprise, they self-servingly believe you should email your customers and prospects regularly until death do you part and have numerous colorful PowerPoint decks showing enough statistics to make a US Census worker blush.

What’s not calculated is the amount of $$$ your company is wasting chasing a needle in a haystack and the poor customer image that you are likely creating.