Tuesday, March 30, 2010

universities are customers too

Obviously, I keep up with the e-marketing environment online, and so I've signed up for loads of online newsletters. One such [from e-consultancy.com] pointed me at what looked like some interesting research from ATG [atg.com]. As is the case when research papers are produced as part of a marketing strategy, I was required to 'sign in' to get access to the research details. This included my email address. Now, before my complaint I will add that they do say 'corporate email addresses only' - but as you can see below, my UK university address was rejected I am assuming that this is because all .ac.uk addresses are blocked. As this blog entry makes clear, I think this is a mistake. However, the only other reason I can see from their rejection message is that my address includes two uppercase letters [my initials] - surely that is not the reason for the rejection? If that is the case - double shame on the techie who set up the fields because ... email addresses are not case sensitive [before you jump down my throat, they can be set up to be case sensitive, but convention is that no one does so].
Well, I can appreciate that they may be trying to limit access to the report - but why? The significant results are already in the public domain - probably as a result of their PR efforts. Don't want students quoting the figures in assignments ... and if so, why not? And remember, students become managers and business owners.

But more importantly [for ATG] ... I could have been the marketer from a university who was interested in buying their services [the whole point of the paper being researched, written and published].

To get the report - which was very good - I entered my email address on my .eu domain. Don't ATG know that anyone living in the EU can register a .eu domain - including students?

Or was it just a techie's error that .ac.uk domains were rejected by the registration software?

Friday, March 26, 2010

come and collect it for free

As a shop, I like Debenhams - there aren't many of the old 'department' stores still around. However, I think someone got this promotional message wrong:
Yep ... if I use my own car [and petrol] delivery - or is that collection - is free. Yes I realise they are referring to delivery to your local store, but surely they will put the goods into their [highly efficient] distribution system rather than using a third-party carrier. Why promote it as free delivery - other retailers [all of them?] refer to this as 'click and collect'.

Footnote: I may be wrong on the last sentence - March 2010 saw Halfords also launch its 'free delivery to store' option. I wonder if customers will consider this to be 'free delivery' - or see it along the same lines as me?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Not practicing what you preach

I'm disappointed in this example because it comes from someone who professes to be an expert marketer. Sadly I can't mention his name or his website's – as you will see, it strikes me that he is the sort of person to instigate legal action.

It all began when I saw an article on a 'famous' e-marketer's email newsletter about Twitter, it being a list of organizations that were effectively using the 140-character social-messaging system. I decided that I would add my own comments from a user's – that is, receiver's – point of view. At no time was I critical of the original work, indeed, in my introduction I praised it. Note that, so long as the appropriate reference to the original is included, this is acceptable in academic articles. Indeed, it is often seen as both a compliment and an opportunity for the original to reach a wider audience.

Because I was reproducing much of the original article, I started mine with: I am indebted to *name of company and author of the article* which was hyperlinked to the company website. Out of courtesy, I emailed said expert advising him that I had used the original article and included the URL so that he could check it was OK [note that for this I had to use a form on his website, far from the best means of online communication].

Within a couple of hours I received a reply. It had no greeting, simply saying:

*e-marketer's name* wrote:
Your verbatim use of my content without my prior consent falls outside of fair usage guidelines. Removal of my content from your site is formally requested herewith.

This looked like an automated reply to me. No greeting. No introduction. No reason. Not good marketing practice. Not good PR practice. To be frank – out-right rude. Now, I don't think I should get any different treatment than any other reader of the expert's web page – but perhaps a little professional courtesy for a fellow e-marketing expert wouldn't have been amiss?

Thinking it may have been an automated response, I sent the following email:

Hmmm, a rather terse [automated?] legalese reply to what I thought was a reasonable request - particularly as it would drive 'new' readers to your article and the musing starts with:
"I am indebted to *name of company and author of the article*

Still, ho hum - as someone who has had entire books reproduced without my permission I can see where you are coming from, though I feel in this instance you are being a little short-sighted on the PR front.

It is not a problem as far as I am concerned, the page will be deleted by the end of the day , as will all the links from my site to articles/pages on your site and my advice to students to sign up for your newsletter.

Best wishes ... Alan

OK, so a bit like throwing my toys out of the pram, but I felt I was making a valid point. The response came soon after:

Thank you. Have a good weekend.

So ... I've changed the article so that none of the article's content is present. I have removed the link to the expert's website from that article. I have removed the link from my 'useful websites' page. I have removed all 15 links that I had on my website to articles on the experts website. Yep, my hyperlink toys are out of the pram. Will it affect the expert's website in any way? Probably not. But in one of the article's own articles he advises organizations to establish "links of a feather" with affinity sites similar to yours. That sounds like a good idea.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

it might be yourspace ... but it's not myspace

I got an email from myspace:
Now, I rarely use myspace, but I do have a page, so I thought this might be an important announcement - or perhaps someone trying to contact me. So I clicked on the 'read the full message' link - expecting it to open within the email. But no, it opened a browser with a myspacepage. This one:
So here's the thing. myspace's marketers know quite a bit about me from my registration with them and my activity on their site. They know, for example, that I am a 50-something University lecturer. Apart from anything else I suspect that rules me out of the target demographic for a chat with Steel Panther.

Hello myspace's marketers, guess what I'll be doing with the next email you send me?