Let’s talk about marketing to your customers for a minute. Let’s me use myself as an example: at the moment, I regularly play one Xbox 360 game (Borderlands) and one Windows game (Dragon Age). I just bought Dragon Age 2 recently. When I purchased Dragon Age in late 2009, I needed to register an account. As part of that registration process, I wanted to be alerted to new things related to Dragon Age. Not all games, only the game franchise I was a fan of. Electronic Arts (EA) makes the classic mistake many marketing departments make: treating all their customers the same and assuming that all customers want to know about every game.
The screen shot above is an example of the emails that EA regularly sends me – I’d guess that I get about one every two weeks, and it’s almost always the same sort of “x% off in the online store”. It’s never anything that interests me unless it relates to Dragon Age. When I got tired of these messages that were basically spam – I didn’t sign up to get alerted about other EA titles or online store sales – I tried to un-subscribe. Imagine my surprise when I saw this screen:
So here’s EA putting a virtual gun to my head: “If you want to keep receiving information about Dragon Age Mr. Customer, you’re going to keep getting our spam about our online store whether you like it or not. If you want to stop the online store spam, you’ll lose out on hearing the news about the game you like. So what’s it gonna’ be?” I kept getting the spam for many months because I wanted to learn more about Dragon Age 2, but eventually I got tired of seeing the email spam and opted out of the whole thing. In effect, Bioware lost me as a potential future customer because their parent company, EA, was so aggressive with their marketing.
There’s a better way, and it’s both simple and obvious: have multiple levels of opt-in when the customer registers. Allow them to be subscribed to only the mailing list for the game, then offer them additional opt-in on the promotions mailing list, new game alerts, etc. Put the power of communications in the customer’s hands – that’s what “opt-in” means after all – and you’ll have a happier customer that will stick around and be a part of your brand.