E-mail geo-targeting gone awry

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Over some last-night-of-Hanukkah potato pancakes, my dad mentioned that he had received an e-mail from Borders with this shocking subject line: "Borders Closing, 40% Off Clearance Sale." He wondered -- Could Borders really be closing all of its stores? And offering 40% off to boot? He was about to hit the Web to see whether this amazing news was actually true when he decided to open the e-mail and read further. It turns out only one Sacramento, California-based store was closing and offering the sale -- my father, on the other hand, lives in Manhattan.

Later that day, he received another e-mail from Borders, with the following subject line: "Correction to Our Earlier Email re: A Borders Store Closing in Sacramento."

The body of the e-mail read:

"Dear Borders Customer,

We are sorry; the email you received earlier was intended only for Borders customers who shop in our Sacramento store. It has been brought to our attention that some other customers may have received this email in error. To clarify, the 40% off discount is only valid in the Borders Sacramento store at 4750 Natomas Blvd. We apologize for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

Sincerely, The Borders Team"

Clearly, e-mail marketers who use geographic targeting find that it's a great way to make sure your e-mail reaches customers who care about your message. But it's obvious that marketers need to take special care to ensure the right message doesn't reach the wrong target!

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