I’m a fan of marketing automation. It’s a great way to stay in front of your customers and prospects and it gives you a ton of control over a lot of your marketing aspects. Like, who to market to, how often to market to them, and which offers and content are relevant to each of them. You can get really granular, but in an automated way.
As a marketer myself, you can bet that I’m highly aware of when I’m on an automated marketing list. For the most part, I’m fine with the messages I get. They are usually relevant to me in some way—after all, I provided my email address and, in many cases, I’ve purchased something from them in the past and will most likely do so again.
But, as efficient as MA can be for getting new names onto new lists and starting that nurturing process, it’s as equally bad at getting names off of lists when circumstances dictate they do just that.
For example, after 18 years of pet ownership, I recently became pet-free and decided to take a break from that responsibility. So I returned some canned food to my local big-chain pet food store and mentioned to the clerk that my cat had passed away. He was sympathetic and then kindly mentioned that I would still get marketing postcards and emails from them. I asked if he could take me off the list and he said I’d have to unsubscribe to the emails myself (okay, that’s pretty easy) and call some 800# to get off the mailing list. In other words, at his register he has the power to ADD me to a list, change my contact info, check my rewards balance, and predict the name of my next pet (okay, maybe not that), but he can’t REMOVE me from the list? C’mon. That’s inconvenient, and frankly, a little insensitive.
Speaking of insensitive, here’s a real doozy. I have a friend who was treated for breast cancer several years ago and had a double mastectomy to help ensure it would never come back. And every year since, she gets an annual mammogram reminder from the clinic that treated her. Would it really be that hard to remove her name from that list without her having to call and remind them what she’d been through? I know that doctors and clinics claim to have limited resources and probably don’t have time for tasks like this, but they are service providers in a competitive (and expensive!) industry, so they should find a way to make it happen. I mean, how long could it take?
That same friend, who lives in a condo, also gets postcards from roofers and lawn care services. That’s just a silly waste of money and resources. One of the most basic pieces of information available from purchased lists is home type (single family versus multiple-dwelling unit). Everyone knows that people who live in MDUs don’t need roofers and lawn care services.
And we’ve all heard stories about someone’s deceased aunt who still gets mail five years after her death. Sigh.
To be clear, I understand that MA requires people behind the scenes to set everything up and monitor it regularly on many levels, so it’s not so much the technology I have a problem with—it’s the people that run it. So I must ask of those people: Please pay attention to your mailing lists and give people who are on them an easy way to opt out.