Email marketing is not, perhaps, the funniest of businesses so there is a certain temptation to enjoy other people’s disasters. There is only one thing to do with such temptation: give into it.
Twenty years ago Hoover ran their ill-fated air miles promotion. It became notorious yet we have recently had the ‘biggest fresh soup company in the UK’ apparently follow suit. They had a first prize of some £500,000 which, it turned out, no one won. It is probable that the fallout has not been kind to their brand name. The Daily Mail, reportedly with the most hits for any online newspaper, has given it a major spread. Now that has got to hurt!
Competitions can be extremely effective in email marketing in particular. Who would fail to open an email with the Subject line of Win Half a Million Pounds? Despite the appearance of giving something away for nothing if managed correctly they will provide a massive return on investment. The recent Mercedes-Benz promotion showed many of the features that make them so attractive.
The competition featured customer input, always a good way of getting something for little from our point of view. Can’t be bothered to think up a good enough name for your crisps? Get your customers to do so for a tenth of what an agency would charge.
They also included voting. Television programmes show how popular that is. Social networking got involved and one can imagine executives high-fiving. But if it can go wrong . . . It did go wrong.
The actual events were bizarre, with the complainant being disqualified. You can read it here and it is well worth studying, not only for the humour.
There are any number of lessons to be learned from such disasters by those of us in email marketing. The main ones would appear to be:
1. Competitions can be a very effective way of promoting your goods. They can be used to gain customers, convert them to online sales and then as subscribers to your email marketing lists.
2. They need to be considered carefully. If the big boys and large corporations can blow it, so can you.