Following bad with worse

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27 May 2016 | 0

Paul HearnsHaving not only a newsroom e-mail address, but also subscribing to many e-mail lists and newsletters, I tend to get a lot of spam. Of course, there are those who, perhaps justifiably, might argue that I am also responsible for quite a bit of spam, but the fact remains, my inbox and my spam folder, can be busy places.

Of late, I have noticed the false positive rate has increased significantly, requiring me to sometimes whitelist common contacts, as I was finding them more often than not in the spam folder.

On one of these treasure hunts recently, I came across an e-mail that was at once confusing and then annoying.

“This is a classic example of an ill-judged approach that does not culturally transpose this side of the pond, combined with a fear-driven stance which does not serve the vendor’s purpose”

It turned out to be a semi-legitimate e-mail insofar as it came from a legitimate source, but the claims it made relegated back to the spam folder.

It came from a company that specialises in trying to redeem the fabled abandoned ecommerce cart. Citing a rate of 74% abandonment on average, the e-mail sounded initially like a disgruntled customer that had made a genuine attempt to purchase from our site, but abandoned the effort and decided to e-mail us instead.

Now that raised all sorts of flags for me.

First of all, there were claims initially about not being ready, needing to make price comparisons, etc. As I looked into it, I realised that this was actually all a front, as the items commercially available on our site were either subscriptions to publications that were not available anywhere else, or a general payments system for services already rendered.

Secondly, the language of the e-mail seemed generic, and lo and behold, almost the exact wording is used on the blurb on the vendor’s website.

Furthermore, the tone and language of the e-mail was aimed more at the ‘mom and pop’ e-commerce outfit that sells a few bits and bobs online, not a trade publisher in specialist niches such as IT, FMCG and the drinks industry.

What we were left with then, was an e-mail to the wrong person, as I have responsibility whatsoever for those mechanisms or policies, that was couched in the wrong language, taking a questionable approach for a service that is unlikely to play well here anyway.

The saving mechanism on offer was for a plug-in that would use the half-captured information of the buyer to e-mail them after cart abandonment and hopefully entice them back to the site.

Now, perhaps I am simply an old curmudgeon, but if I have abandoned a cart on a site and I later get a nagging e-mail asking me why, I would regard it much the same way as a follow up from a needy date and run a mile vowing to never go near said source again.

This is a classic example of an ill-judged approach that does not culturally transpose this side of the pond, combined with a fear-driven stance which does not serve the vendor’s purpose.

By purporting to be a dissatisfied or frustrated customer, leading into a poorly crafted pitch, I’d imagine the natural reaction of many people would be the same as mine – to quote that eloquent sage John B Keane and his marvellous use of a colloquial enjoinder to remove oneself promptly.

 

 

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