Danielle's Blog Spot

No Email Address?

Posted on: May 27, 2009

I just read my weekly lesson for my Emerging Media class when I saw some statistics that were interesting.  For example, 75 % of the population is connected to the Internet. Out of this 91% of people have email.  I think a great deal of people lie about having email.  Why would I make such an accusation?  Let me explain…

I work for a retail company.  When a customer comes to check out at the register it is mandatory that each associate asks every customer for the phone number and email address before we continue with the transaction.  We have been assured by the company president that the phone numbers are for marketing for our company only.  They take the area code and first three digits of the number to figure out what areas our customers are coming from to shop at our store, that way they know where abouts to send our new product catalogs to.  No phone numbers are stored or shared or sold to other companies.  Our company also jumped on the band wagon of sending out email newsletters.  These newsletters update our customers on items that have been marked down to clearance, sales we have going on, what’s on sale, how long the sale is, and they were going to try to start sending out coupons through email.  It is our job to collect a minimum of 30% of our customers email addresses a day.  Most people don’t care to give out their phone numbers, but no one wants to give out their email address.  Not only do they not want to share their email addresses, but a lot of them are just rude about it.  Some will even stop me in the middle of the question to provide a firm, “No”, “I don’t have email”, “I don’t believe in email”, “I only have a work email address”, “I don’t believe that’s any of your business”.  It’s not as if I’m asking because I personally want to know and I believe I can become email buddies with these people.  I ask because it’s my job to ask.  Our manager gets in trouble if we don’t meet our numbers and if she gets yelled at, we get yelled at.  I’m just trying to save a lot of yelling from happening.  In order to collect more emails, they company even tried to do contests in which to enter, customers entry was their email address and it proved unsuccessful.  One day, I asked a customer about it.  In no way was I rude about it, I was just trying to understand where the customers were coming from.  The woman responded that she received enough junk email and she didn’t want anymore, there was no guarantee on our part that her email address wouldn’t be sold to other companies, and all the sale information and possible coupons were not worth the headache.  She then said that a lot of people feel that way.

With so many people feeling like companies sending them emails is infringing and intruding into their lives, what is the next frontieer for online personal marketing?  Feel free to leave comments with ideas!

 

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3 Responses to "No Email Address?"

Very intersting post. Just yesterday I had to pick up a blouse for an interview and was asked for my phone number. Before this, I can only recall being asked for my zip code. I replied, “I prefer to not give that to you.” The lady was pleasant about it and continued to ring my sale.

Now after reading your post, I am thinking more about this. It seems as though your manager may be honest in that she was told the reason for phone number collection was for tracking where your customers reside. However, we now live in a world where fewer people have landlines, more people have cell phones and when they move, they take their old number and area code with them. For this reason, tracking by phone number is not effective. In this scenario, the zip code is more effective and does not lead to junk mail. The phone numbers are (in my opinion) a way to justify an ‘opt-in’ for mobile messaging.

Apparently, the emails are strictly for marketing. Perhaps instead of asking “may I have your email” it can be worded more honestly; “would like the opportunity to receive coupons and advance sale notices via email?” This is truly an ethical way to ask for the customer to opt-in, without casting any doubt on why your company wants the email. It may not produce as many results, but it may be more effective, and would probably not cause as many rude responses.

E-mail is a very challenging to capture sometimes from people. In my experience of of college alumni relations, we have a very strong affinity with individuals and even they are hesitant to provide us with their e-mail address. I think people that only have 1 or 2 e-mail addresses are hesitant to have their inbox filled with offers and coupons from stores. I have one e-mail address that is specifically set up for receiving retail and commercial e-mail, but I guess many individuals work their e-mail differently. With the alumni office, we send about 3-4 e-mails per month depending on what time of year it is and how important the information is. E-mail addresses and cell phone numbers are almost regarded as being private information that is only shared with those whom the person trusts. I think Rachel has an excellent point about disclosing more information about how the e-mail address will be used before allowing the individual to respond back. When left to question what the intended purpose is going to be, the individual will assume the most negative outcome based on preconceived ideas. Retailers could also put a line on the receipt that individuals can fill out if they are signing it or they could leave a section on the electronic signature box is another option for potentially gaining more e-mail addresses. Below is a link from an environmental activism organization that states the best way to acquire e-mail addresses and what to do with them after you gather them.

http://www.onenw.org/toolkit/gatherring-email-addresses

This is an interesting concept that 91% of people have email yet no one wants to give their email address. I also work at a retail store, Verizon Wireless, and we are actually required to get email from every new customer that we sign up for service. They are getting so strict that we actually are required to have atleast 70% of every customers email captured that we work with. If we dont we have to write an action plan on how we can more effectively capture the email in the future.

I understand the company does this to send information about promotions and account changes to customers but even still it is annoying. Email capture is also effective in Verizon Wireless’s fow to go green. The more email addresses we capture the more customers we can sign up for paperless billing. It is a win win situation for everyone.

http://www.verizonwireless.com/myverizon

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