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Ken Magill

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Stupid Glitch Watch: Reactivation Campaign Pain


By Ken Magill

It was the reactivation campaign that worked ... and then didn’t.

A lot of marketers are going to read this and think: “Heh, at least he’s not writing about me.”

But I probably am writing about you. You just don’t know it.

Last week I received a reactivation email from Musician’s Friend with the subject line: “Was It Something We Said?”

“Ken,” began the body copy.

“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 coupon for 20% off a single item of $49 or more.”

I am no musician.

However, my son is a budding saxophonist. So I asked my wife: “Is there anything [son’s name] needs for his sax that costs $50 or more?”

Turns out he needed reeds. We found a box that cost more than $50 and I began to go through the order process.

The coupon code didn’t work. I tried again and the coupon code didn’t work again.

I clicked on live chat, got a rep and he gave me another coupon code. I kept hitting the back button on my browser and couldn’t for the life of me find a place to enter the new coupon code.

The chat rep kept directing me and I kept failing—probably my fault, to be sure.

Finally I typed: “I give up. I’m going to place this order over the phone.”

I got a friendly teleservices rep on the phone. He tried both the original coupon code and the one supplied by the chat rep. Neither worked.

The telephone rep put me on hold and then somehow got the discount applied.

Just before we hung up, I said: “You need to go to someone in your marketing department, preferably someone in charge of email marketing, and tell them the reactivation campaign that just went out is having problems.”

He indicated he didn’t understand what I was telling him, so I said: “Look: I responded to an email campaign that went out less than an hour ago. It’s why I just placed an order. My coupon code didn’t work. It’s likely I’m not the only one who had this problem and someone in your marketing department is going to want to know about it.”

Rep: “Well, you can go to comments and describe your experience.”

Me: “No. I my order’s been placed. I don’t care about this. This isn’t important to me. It’s important to you, or at least it’s important to your business. You need to tell someone in marketing the email reactivation campaign that just went out within the last hour isn’t working because of a coupon glitch.”

As we got off the phone I got the distinct impression his rear end wasn’t leaving his seat anytime soon and that when it did, it would be for a trip to the bathroom.

Here’s the deal: I know teleservices reps aren’t always the most dedicated staffers. I also understand I may have been on the phone with an exception at Musician’s Friend rather than the rule.

But at the risk of stating the obvious, inbound call-center reps are on the front lines of your business and if something’s up with an outbound campaign, they will naturally often be the first to know about it.

If they are—for whatever reason—unmotivated to communicate with outbound-marketing management, any given campaign could be leaking cash due to a technical glitch with no chance for a timely remedy.

The lesson for email marketing managers: If you don’t have an ongoing dialog with inbound call-center management, get to work on establishing it. You’re supposed to be on the same team, after all.


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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: robinteractive
Date: 2013-03-07 12:28:22
Subject: Front Lines

Where I work email is sent by an invisible hand (email marketer) from the addresses of real people (sales reps) and replies go to real people. The resulting email replies and inbound phone calls are gold not only in terms of identifying issues with any email that was sent, but also in terms of generating ideas about where to improve overall Web content. Any question about a product or service can inform tweaks to related Web pages. Database systems can make it simple to record these questions so that the content folks can tweak away. If something is simple to use in terms of this reporting, there is a shot at getting issues resolved. All too often there is a "not sure where to go with that info" problem that leaves feedback dead on the floor.
Posted by: Chris Marriott
Date: 2013-03-05 15:43:41
Subject: Nailed it!

"If you don't have an ongoing dialog with inbound call-center management, get to work on establishing it." Could not agree more! In fact I wrote almost the same thing in this article:
Posted by: Jennifer R
Date: 2013-03-05 15:04:23
Subject: Amen!

As a marketer, I have found this type of "fix it" mentality throughout my career. I have found fostering relationships with folks (and not just managers) on the front line yields TONS of information. It seems to be a training issue -- these folks "fix" what needs fixing with a single issue or customer, but don't connect the dots that they could be exponentially fixing a bigger issue or group of customers by reporting a problem. Well meaning or not, non-reporting skews the marketing's efforts to make it rain. Thanks for the article Ken!
Posted by: SP
Date: 2013-03-05 14:54:22
Subject: Marketers should test their own coupons

We have the person responsible for setting up coupon/promo codes as part of the marketing dept, and we have both marketing and customer service people involved in testing each code prior to its use. Our marketing dept is also adjacent to our call center so we are able to literally listen in on calls as much as we want/need. It's helped us to refine our disclaimer copy and understand which offers cause more customer confusion/issues than others, etc. Exactly for situations like what you experienced, I highly recommend that marketers stay very involved in the creation/testing of their promos and stay involved on the customer service side as much as possible. There will still be technical glitches occasionally which no one is immune from, but those extra steps help a lot.