I was watching an episode of Under The Dome a couple of months ago, and I saw something that make me groan:
See what it was? That big, ugly white sticker on the back of the HTC 8X. It’s a sticker designed to be removed by the customer – it has the IMEI number on it so customers can reference it if they need to call in for support. The 8X is a beautifully designed product – it’s has gorgeous soft-touch plastic that looks great (but sadly doesn’t wear well long-term) and HTC made it in bold, powerful colours. Beauty ruined by a sticker. Continue reading HTC IMEI Stickers: Oh For the Love Of…
Like most people, I’m accustomed to seeing advertising across nearly every facet of my life. I truly did not expect to see advertising on the console screen in my Mazda 3. It seems this particular radio station in the Seattle area uses the tiny bit of data that can be pumped on FM frequencies (or maybe it’s only on HD radio, I’m not sure) to display an ad for Western Washington Honda Dealers. How utterly tacky and desperate of them…and of the Honda dealership to participate in such a thing. Who thought this was a good idea?
The above screenshot is from a newsletter that I received today, and it’s pretty normal for me to see broken images in a newsletter, or images that take so long to download, they might as well be broken. We live in a world where there are all sorts of tools and services to monitor the up-time and performance of a Web site, and yet little to no attention gets paid to the up-time and performance of email newsletters. When I get an email about a sale at a big box retail store and the images in the newsletter take 60 seconds to load, that doesn’t make me think very highly of the brand in question. If you have an email newsletter, do yourself a favour and make sure it delivers the kind of experience you want your customers to have.
And in case anyone is wondering, the images were still broken after I gave Outlook permission to download the images…
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. Continue reading All or Nothing Email Marketing Creates Brand Resentment
I have my personal email configured in a very particular way; I have set it up so that anything@ sent to jasondunn.com will come to me (unless it’s been previously blocked). Why do I do this? The key problem with the way email works today is that once you give someone your email address, you lose control over it – they can sell it, share it, spam you with it, etc. Worse, unlike the telephone system where the caller is identified with a number that can be blocked (with the exception of hidden caller ID of course), there’s little you can do to protect yourself from incoming spam…if you block one sender, it will just come at you from a different one. The sender on the email is rarely the person or company actually generating the email.
By using a unique email address for every newsletter I sign up for, every company I buy from, and every account I register online, I have a system for figuring out who is spamming me, who is selling my email address, and I can turn off an alias if need be. There are some negatives to this approach mind you: it doesn’t keep me completely spam free, because eventually my real email address gets out there in the wild – likely from compromised email accounts or the malware-laden PCs of people that I correspond with – but it does afford me some granular control over how companies correspond with me.
I’ve turned off more than a few aliases over the years and that kills 100% of the spam that was coming in via that alias. This method does leave me vulnerable to dictionary-based email domain attacks, or domain reply-to hijackings, but both are exceedingly rare (say, three times in the past five years). People using Gmail can do something similar to my method, though it’s not quite the same because it still exposes your real email address.
Continue reading Email Spam, Database Hacking, and Customer Trust: A Tale of Battdepot and Rupaz
It’s amusing watching companies figure out how to use Twitter…the above screen is from my Twitter feed. I follow both Dell Canada’s consumer Twitter feed, and their Business user feed. They each have different offers and discounts…until they start copying each other and repeating everything twice, creating what amounts to Twitter spam in my feed. And then there’s their contest, which so far as resulted in 37 tweets in three days. Twitter is a great tool for businesses to reach out to their customers, but if you do it too often, you risk alienating those customers. After I post this I’m going to un-follow the Dell Canada Business feed, and possibly un-follow the Dell Consumer feed until this contest is over. If you’re a business, value the attention of your customers – don’t abuse it by being too “noisy”.
For those that don’t know, a “Toonie” is a Canadian two-dollar coin. Can you really run a promo called “Toonie Tuesday” and have the item cost $2.79 plus tax? That’s $2.93 in Alberta after our 5% GST tax. Kind of makes your business look stupid…
One of the things I hate seeing in my day job are companies who’s concept of public relations and product announcements are stuck in the mentality of a previous decade. Case in point: there’s a company, who shall remain un-named, that launched a couple of new products, but only in the European market. They decided not to tell me about the products, even though they’re right up my alley, because I’m based on North America. The concept of regional product announcements is a quaint idea from a bygone era. The Internet has obliterated the idea that information is relevant only to a certain group of people living in a geographic era. Public relations and marketing people need to grasp that the Internet is global, and it’s changed the way product launches work.
This also applies to all those companies I meet at CES who look at my press badge and see “Canada” then don’t want to talk to me. Do these people believe that the Internet is some sort of temporary fad?
I was watching a few videos on MSN Video, and it seems that Gillette Venus (women’s razor) was the only sponsor – they played the same ad every three videos of so. Beyond the obvious bad targeting of showing me a woman’s razor, and the redundancy of the same video over and over (which tends to breed brand dislike in my opinion), I was shocked at how completely crappy the video looked. Flash isn’t a great medium for high-quality video (though the new h.264 codec in Flash 9 rocks!) but this video reached new lows in terms of quality. Check out this screen shot (saved as a PNG file, so the poor quality is from the video):
If you were an advertising executive working for Gillette, how would you feel about your product being portrayed in such a low-quality manner? The video was truly atrocious in quality. Perhaps MSN Video has some ridiculous limits on the bit rates of submitted advertising videos, but if I were working for Gillette I’d say “This is the video quality we want, if you want our advertising dollars, you’ll run this.”
The bulk of my “day job” consists of me filtering information from public relations/marketing people: they flog their products at me, I decide if it’s worth writing about, and if it is I share it with my community on one (or more) of my Web sites. What’s extremely frustrating is when I decide I’m going to write about something, and the PR person/company in question makes that hard for me. They typically do one of these bone-headed things:
- They send me a press release, but they haven’t gotten around to publishing the press release online anywhere, so there’s nothing for me to link to. Links – you know, the foundation of the whole Internet? Yeah, they matter. I’m not going to spend 30 minutes re-writing your whole damn press release – I’m not a journalist, and I don’t have time for it. I hear excuse after excuse from PR people: “Oh, yeah, we haven’t gotten around to putting the press release online.”
- The don’t send me an image of the product. The Web is a visual medium, and people like pictures. I can either email the PR person back and wait several hours (or days) for them to get back to me with the photo, or I can hunt around the company Web site looking for an image – and more often than not, I can’t find anything more than a little 100 x 100 pixel image. Even companies that are smart enough to have dedicated online press rooms will often not have them updated with the latest products. Why the hell have an online press room unless it has absolutely everything that an online writer is looking for?
- They send me their press release as a 2 MB Word file with large embedded graphics. Don’t waste my time. They often think that embedding graphics in a Word document is the same thing as providing a blogger/journalist with the images they need. It’s not.
So the shot list for all you PR People out there: email me the press release in the email message, have the press release online for me to link to, include me a reasonable size Web-ready image (1000 x 1000 pixels maximum, JPEG format), and if I ask you a question, please try to get back to me as quick as you can…though hopefully if you give me the things I need, I won’t have any questions for you – other than “So when can I review this?”.
Oh, and lest anyone think I’m bashing PR people, I’m not – my bachelor’s degree is in PR. I know the game and how it’s supposed to be played, so it ticks me off when my “peers” don’t do what they’re supposed to.