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Ken Magill

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Stupid Glitch Revisited: Some Very Confused Email


By Ken Magill

Musician’s Friend has a truly confused email program and I’ve got the messages in my inbox to prove it.

The latest piece of evidence is a reactivation email I received last week despite my having made a purchase in March.

“Ken, Is This Good Bye?” said the message’s subject line.

“We haven't seen you in a while and thought we'd check in to see how everything is going. We'd love for you to visit, so here's a $10 e-Certificate that's yours to use like cash,” said the first line of body copy.

This is the second reactivation email Musician’s Friend has sent me in less than a month. I’m all for reactivation campaigns—at least those sent to people who are showing signs of going dormant or defecting to a competitor.

On March 28, Musician’s Friend sent me a reactivation email offering 20 percent off orders of $49 or more.

As some readers will recall, I tried to use the coupon to buy a $50-plus box of reeds for my son’s saxophone, but couldn’t get the coupon to work.

After some fruitless efforts to work through the glitch with online customer service, I called the order in.

The key point here is I made a purchase from Musician’s Friend a little more than a month ago, but apparently because I didn’t make the purchase as the direct result of clicking through an email, the company is classifying me as a lapsed customer.

What’s more, the subject line of this most recent email—Ken, Is This Goodbye?—sounds like it’s coming from an insecure girlfriend.

Apparently, the email folks at Musician’s Friend aren’t accessing customers’ recency, frequency and average-order-size data on other sales channels.

To truly understand the email confusion at work here, a little history is in order.

My first purchase from Musician’s Friend was a box of drumsticks in January, 2009 for playing Rock Band on the PS3 to replace drumsticks the dogs chewed up.

Not surprisingly, the company dumped me into its regular mail stream—but it was in October, 2011: two years and 10 months after my original purchase.

For those new to the industry, emailing three-year-old addresses is dangerous. It’s one sure-fire way to draw spam complaints, hit spam traps and get a lot of hard bounces, resulting in triggering ISPs spam filters.

To Musician’s Friend’s credit, the company did send me a message warning me I was about to start getting regular emails. And for those who are curious, no, the email did not require me to click or respond in any way to get added to Musician’s Friend’s list.

“We want to keep you up to date on money saving offers, new products, events and more via email. If this is okay with you, you don't need to do a thing,” said the email. I then began getting regular messages in my inbox from Musician’s Friend.

Meanwhile, my account showed no activity from January 2009 until my son took up the saxophone at the beginning of this school year. I bought a box of reeds from Musician’s Friend in February and another in March.

So when I truly was a lapsed customer, the company emailed me like a regular customer. And when I began buying again, the company began treating me like a lapsed customer.

When I buy the next box of reeds—which I’m guessing by the timing of the two previous purchases will be fairly soon—I will buy it from Musician’s Friend. It’s a great company with good selection and pricing, and solid customer service.

How the company’s emails will treat me after my next purchase is anyone’s guess. Will they promise they can change? Will they start texting me dozens of times a day asking “where r u?” Will they leave a doll’s head in my driveway with a knife stuck in it?

Note to email-service-provider sales reps and email-marketing consultants: Hint. Sales lead.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Becky
Date: 2013-05-14 11:34:49

Segmenting your email list is such an important element of email marketing and I'm still so surprised to see companies doing it so badly! You can do brilliant things with a well segmented list - senders have the ability to send the right message to the right customers at the right time! Email campaign results (usually) improve when targeting fine-tuned audiences, so companies are missing out. Instead companies should focus on combining demographic and firmographic attributes with behavioural and online data to make their email campaigns highly targeted. Here's some info on managing email lists for anyone who is interested:
Posted by: Jen McGahan
Date: 2013-05-07 16:12:39
Subject: Odd indeed.

Too weird! I married a guitarist 19 years ago and we've had MF catalogs lying around forever. I'll have to ask if his email experience is as strange as yours.