Targeting gone wrong: week two

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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 two 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.

For last week's example, click here.

This week's example: Before I rip into the email's horrid, horrid image, I'd like to sincerely compliment Equinox on the sell-job. This message, which was sent to a lapsed female Equinox member on Jan. 9, features a subject line — “We Want You Back” — that is straightforward and compelling. The email's lures include a $0 initiation fee, two-week trial membership offers for friends and a free Pilates session, all of which add up to $550, according to Equinox.

Even the email's copy is enticing: “Get schooled with invigorating group fitness classes like ViPR and Blockbuster Body, and learn a thing or two about relaxation with luxury amenities like Kiehl's Since 1851. You're guaranteed to come out on top.”

That paragraph makes me want to go to the gym, and not just any gym, but an over-priced Equinox gym. I wouldn't have thought twice about the last line of copy — “You're guaranteed to come out on top” — if not for the disturbing image of The Situation's twin brother mounting a disinterested girl in what appears to be a rich dude's library.

What exactly does this image have to do with me going back to the gym? If I sign a one-year agreement will I instantly become fit, educated, wealthy, and be given unlimited access to Rohypnol?

The fact that this email was sent to a FEMALE lapsed customer makes it even worse! If the premise of the email is that Equinox gym members come out on top, shouldn't this have been sent to male customers, with an entirely different version sent to women that features a woman on top? At the very least it could have featured a less machismo-driven, male-conquest-dominated photograph.

(Full disclosure: The email's female recipient found the art to be “compelling,” so perhaps my harsh judgment is a minority opinion.)

(But seriously, how corny is it that the dude is still wearing his vintage loafers? I digress.)

If the image tickles your fancy, well then maybe the poor direct marketing will vex you. The email's link does not connect the member to a landing page where their credit card and address information is already stored and ready to be submitted. Rather than leverage the massive amounts of information Equinox has about its members, the fitness chain decided it was in its best interest to force each lapsed member to re-enter this information to re-register. Even if it seems un-Kosher to auto-fill credit card information, the link should auto-fill address information.

Let me know what you think of the Equinox message. Do you find it compelling? Or are you as horrified as I am?

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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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