Borders Email FAIL (and how colleges can avoid the same mistake)

By Karlyn Morissette - Tue, Mar 23, 2010-->


Email, General, Marketing

Borders, Borders, Borders. :::sigh:::

You know that normally I’m a fan of your email. I always talk about you understanding creating value for the user during my Five Commandments of Email Marketing presentation. But yesterday, you let me down. I woke up bright and early to get an email from you with the following subject line: A New Release You’ll Love by Charlaine Harris.

Yes, please! There are few things I enjoy more than curling up and reading about the latest adventures of Sookie Stackhouse and her page-turning, make me tremble with anticipation romance with Eric (and all that other stuff about fairies and werewolves and shapeshifters and Vampire Bill). I also remembered that she was coming out with a new book in the series soon and was excited to get my pre-order on.

But here’s what greeted me when I opened the message:

There’s just one problem…I already OWN Dead and Gone.

Photo 279 300x225 Borders Email FAIL (and how colleges can avoid the same mistake)

And what’s worse, Borders, is that you KNEW I already owned it! I bought it months ago at my local Borders using my rewards card and a coupon that you had previously sent me (I remember because I got the hardcover version for like $7 and was very excited by that!).

Now I know what you meant - you wanted me to get the new paperback version coming out…but why would I need that if I’ve already dog eared the hardcover? You knew I already bought this version from you and, instead of sending me an email about the upcoming new book (which you already have up on your website for pre-order), you wasted my time with this. Borders, do you think my time isn’t that valuable? Look at me in that picture! Do I strike you as someone who gets enough sleep? For shame Borders! For shame!

The morale of this story - use the information you have on your users to send them really timely, relevant messages. Had Borders asked me to pre-order the next volume in the series, or sign up for an alert to remind me that it was out so I could go to the store and buy it, yes, no problem. I’m pulling out my credit card. But they wasted an opportunity.

Colleges have all sorts of useful information on their inquiries and applicants, their current students and their alumni. Use it to make sure that your email campaigns are as valuable to your audience as possible. Whenever you send out a message, really take the extra time to filter out all of the people who it does not apply to. Yes, I know…it’s an extra step and usually is easier said then done. But it’s worth it. If you don’t take the extra step, and send out information that is not relevant to your users, you are telling them that you do not value their time or attention. Why should they value what you have to say in return? Plus, as a bonus, if you consistently send out valuable, relevant information, they will be more likely to open and respond to your messages in the long run. It’s a win-win situation.

As for you Borders…I’m sure we’ll get over this little stumbling block…especially if you give me a nice big discount on the next Charlaine Harris book!

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borders, charlaine harris, Email, email marketing, Marketing

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This post was written by:

Karlyn Morissette

Karlyn Morissette - who has written 45 posts on .eduGuru

Karlyn Morissette is a thought leader and innovator in higher education. With over 12 years of web experience (half spent working exclusively on higher education web marketing initiatives), she helped pioneer many of the web strategies considered best practice today.

Today as the Director of Marketing Communications at Fire Engine RED, Karlyn works with colleges around the world to execute integrated marketing campaigns as a part of student search. She also teaches courses on Internet marketing and strategy at Champlain College as adjunct faculty. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Boston University and a Master of Business Administration from Norwich University.

To quote a friend of hers: "Karlyn is a super rad ninja marketing genius who will make your target demographic submit to your every whim through sheer willpower. Oh, and she's smarter than you."  We're not sure about the smarter part, but "super rad ninja" is true enough.

Compulsory disclaimer: The views expressed in Karlyn's posts are hers and hers alone, and do not represent those of any company she's affiliated with. Yes, it's true - the girl has a mind of her own. 

8 Responses to “Borders Email FAIL (and how colleges can avoid the same mistake)”

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    james Says:

    that does seem to be a massive oversight on their part, why bother opening the next email from them if they are just recapping on what you’ve already bought.


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    Kyle James Says:

    I might get an email a day from Amazon, but at least they remember what I’ve bought. :)


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    Andrew Says:

    Data integration and proper list segmentation is key…Borders is apparently lacking in that department. I’d be curious how many other recipients shared your confusion. Great write up!


  4. Avatar image
    robinteractive Says:

    Some insight into Amazon’s e-mail marketing and how to improve upon it, courtesy of pure360. (No registration required to download the guide.)


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    Philip Jones Says:

    I think it’s a little harsh to put the email down so bad since their is some pretty complex code at work to integrate the list sending functions with the customer database but agreed they aren’t a little operation so should probably do better.


  6. Avatar image
    Karlyn Says:

    Philip - I’ve done sends like this as a one man shop. No excuses for Borders.


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    Burton Haynes Says:

    I want to say – thank you for this!


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    Vada Linkowski Says:

    amazon promotional code,crayola color,crayola crayon maker


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