It amazes me that leading marketers still make fundamental mistakes in their email communications to customers. Recently I received an email from one of Australia’s leading financial institutions that highlights how easy it is to make simple mistakes. A copy of the email is below (self-censored as the bank’s identity is not relevant to this discussion).
This email fails to meet some basic tenets of email best practice for a number of reasons.
1. Out-dated Customer Email List
I actually don’t have an active account with this bank (or any account for that matter). An account was opened by me online many years ago, however no money was deposited into it and since I have not had any correspondence from them in years I assumed it was closed due to being inactive. They missed an opportunity to ask if I wanted to reactivate the account, maybe with an offer of a brilliant interest rate.
2. Subject Line Blooper
One of the most important elements of successful permission-based email marketing is the Subject line wording. This email says “Message from ___” and that is completely the wrong approach because it doesn’t indicate this message contains any relevant or useful information for me. At least they would have done better to personalise it, such as “Hi Tim, here is an important message from ___.”
3. Cannot View Online
Most HTML email readers will display the images and text, however it is essential to offer readers the option to ‘View Online’. Here the link leads to a web page with an error message that says
“Information Notice – Sorry, this feature is currently unavailable. ERR432970″. Now that is seriously unacceptable.
4. Missing Unsubscribe Link
A legal requirement in Australia is for all commercial emails to contain a one-click unsubscribe function. There is no “Unsubscribe” link here. Interestingly, this email was distributed by Vision 6, a company that says on it’s web site that “Each email you send has an unsubscribe link that allows recipients to remove themselves from your list [www.vision6.com.au/spam_compliance.html]. The email copy actually says “This is an automated email and you can not respond to this email address”. They also use a ‘From’ email address of “Please_do_not_reply@”. What a non-customer friendly attitude for a bank to have, especially in an email!
5. No Signatory
Organisations should always include a signature at the bottom of their emails, as it’s the best way to indicate this message is from a person representing the sender, not just a faceless company. It should include name and title details, as well the company’s physical and web address. A link to the company web site, and even to other product/service information, is a great way to measure clicks too.
6. More Paper and Postage Costs
Further to these indiscretions, this email’s core message is quite bizarre. This bank is actually telling me that an account statement will now be mailed “at least every six months” (or “every six months” as it also confusingly states). This policy change is at odds with most major service organisations that now offer their customers the choice of receiving their statement or invoice by email or post. So why in 2009 is this bank: a) not offering a choice to receive statements in the post, by email, and/or view online, and b) now sending them by post that will increase their administration costs and effort???
All in all it seems very wrong to me. I’m sure they have a highly rational explanation for this new policy. One positive I can say is that the email was sent on a Tuesday, as research has shown that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to send out broadcast emails in terms of response rates (pity this email didn’t include some trackable links though).
I’d be interested in your thoughts and to hear about any other strange or ridiculous emails from large service organisations that you have received.