Are Bassett’s products as bad as their e-mail?
I’ve gotten three e-mails from Bassett Furniture this week. I did not opt-in for this communication. And, to top it off, the e-mail address they sent to is used in one place: my kids’ elementary school. It’s the address I expect to get information from my kids’ school. This sort of thing disgusts me enough to blog about it.
Will you vote for this on Digg and Sphinn? They need to get the message. You can do so at the bottom of this post by clicking on “Share.”
We Know How this Happened
This is probably more common in the tough market that retailers are currently facing. Some executive says, “We’ve got to get more sales. Use e-mail.” The underlings say, “But, we don’t have a database of e-mails because you didn’t approve that program last year.”
The execs don’t want to hear it. They’ve got a bonus to worry about. So, the underlings go out and buy a list from a list broker. This list was probably presented to them as a list of opt-in email addresses. List providers lie knowing that they can always hide behind the “we were told it was opt-in” excuse.
Bassett, this is not an opt-in list. It was scrapped from an elementary school Web site in Round Rock, Texas. You may get away with infringing on my privacy, but stay away from my kids.
Dear Bassett, in a down market, take market share away from your competitors, don’t give it away.
Poorly Executed to Boot
Once they’d found the list, the Bassett underlings asked, “what do we send?” Well, they didn’t spend much time on that question. They essentially scanned a print flyer and sent it on as one big image.
No introductory text
On my smart phone and in my email client, all you see is an email from Bassett Furniture and a URL.
This is what the email looks like in my e-mail preview pane.
With images turned off in my client, I got a big blank page. That’s their value proposition. “Big blank desperate spammer.”
There is no setup text to tell me why I would open it. Of course, I opened it because the address was scraped from the Web site of the school my elementary age kids attend.
No Value Proposition
Actually, “We’re Desperate” wouldn’t have been a bad value proposition. I would have responded to:
“We’re overstocked on the kind of furniture you’ve been wanting for your home, and we’re discounting to move it.”
No compelling call to action
If you allow your e-mail client to download the big stupid image, it says “Buy Online” at the top and bottom, and tells you when their sale ends. Most of the center is taken up with nine images of beds, tables and sofas with discounted prices. The never ask me to “Learn more” or “See more pictures.”
Not written in English
At the bottom of the page, below the big blank space you’ll find this lame — so lame — call to action: “Contact You Local Store for Details and other Special Offers. [sic]”
It makes you wonder what language this was translated from. “All your base are belong to us.”
The store finder is a nice feature and other retailers should steal this one shining feature of the site. Of course, Bassett fumbled the most important aspect of this effort: getting people to buy what they advertise.
Bad landing page
Given my horrid impression of Bassett from their e-mail, could they save themselves with an online experience that rocks? Nope.
The big graphic is a big link. No surprise. The page it takes me to has non of the products advertised in the email. In fact, it picks something at random from their “CLEARANCE” tab. The featured item changes with each click.
So, the trail to a discounted item is lost within the first click, and I’m outta there.
The lawyers were consulted
To their credit, they did consult the lawyers. Their spam-mail is CAN SPAM compliant, with opt-out and mailing address.
What you should learn from this
1. Don’t buy lists. It’s too easy to generate your own, pure, powerful opt-in house list from your own Web site. You just have to be willing to put in the time.
2. Before you send an e-mail with a big image, consider plain text. It works better on phones and in e-mail clients where images are turned off (>50% by most accounts).
3. Give me a reason to open and read. Each email has a value proposition that is part of your business’s value proposition. State it. Clearly.
4. Take me to a page that has what you offer in your email. Whether it’s information or products, I have to see the same picture or the same text on the landing page. Never take me to your home page. Please.
5. Have someone review your copy, someone who knows English.
6. Follow the CAN SPAM rules. It’s the only reason I can’t report these idiots.
I’m not going to go into their subject line and From: address. It’s amazing that they even thought to include these.
I suspect Bassett’s marketing underlings will be fired for poor performance this Holiday Season. Maybe this post will save them.
For more rants and helpful tips on e-mail marketing, subscribe to The Conversion Scientist blog.
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