Targeting gone wrong: a three-part series

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Juan Martinez, senior editor, Direct Marketing News
Juan Martinez, senior editor, Direct Marketing News

For the past few weeks, the Direct Marketing News team has scoured the Internet and our inboxes in search of the industry's greatest and worst targeting campaigns. In February, we will be blowing up the Direct Report section of our print issue and skipping the usual news pages in favor of a four-page Heat Meter that bluntly assesses and rates the inner workings of four targeting campaigns. In our research we came across many, many bad examples — one of which will be shamed (fairly and objectively) in our upcoming issue.

To give you a sneak peak at what we're working on over the course of the next three weeks, I will dissect examples of targeting gone horribly, horribly wrong. None of these campaigns will be examined in the February issue so make sure to check it out in print or on the Web on Feb. 1 to find out which campaigns we selected.

First example: Infogroup prides itself on being able to “power business growth by combining the targeted high-value data [its] clients need with the expertise to use and deploy it effectively,” according to the company's home page. Someone should have explained that to the person responsible for the following email sent to a Direct Marketing News staffer on Sept. 2.

The opt-in email offers no information about the database company other than the following line: “Infogroup is the leading provider of business and consumer information products.” Right, but if that was the case, wouldn't you have at least known the name of the recipient to whom you sent this message? It is, after all, in the message's recipient's line! Even if this was your typical batch-and-blast, opt-in campaign, surely you could have come up with a better salutation than “Dear Business Professional.” You might as well have referred to the recipient as “Dear Lead” or “Dear Email Address We Collected.” For shame.

Also, if your data collection methods are so on-point, you should know where you got the recipient's information from, as opposed to offering the following creepy explanation: “We obtained your email address through our ongoing data compilation process or from our third party data providers.” Really?! Not only does that sentence completely not answer the question of how this information was gathered but it offers two infuriating non-answers.

To make matters worse, rather than providing the recipient with the phone number or email address of a representative who might be able to help with the recipient's marketing services provider search, Infogroup has the nerve to direct the recipient to its home page to find more information about the company.

Yeah, I think I'll click the much more alluring opt-out link ABOVE the link to your home page. What a mess.

Next week: I'll assess the following misery sent by Equinox to a lapsed member. Let me know what you think of the Infogroup message and give me some fodder for next week's assessment of the Equinox email.

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Founded in September 2009, Stirista is an integrated marketing agency that specializes in micro-targeting via traditional and digital channels. Our mission is to help companies, non-profits, and universities alike find new prospects and better understand their existing contacts. We are on the preferred vendor list for a handful of Fortune 500 companies with three of the ten largest companies in the world turning to us for marketing insights. To put it simply, we're young (at least at heart), ambitious, and sometimes impulsive-but always hungry for new ideas.

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