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Downloading a whitepaper leads to email bombardment

I’ve talked about a version of this before. A purveyor gets you to connect based on reaching out for information, then won’t leave you alone. That can be bad “customer service” long before you become a customer.

This past couple weeks, I’ve encountered an even more insidious form of this disease—daily emails. I simply downloaded a whitepaper and have been bombarded daily since. Even though I have interest in the topic, my disgust at the daily deluge has caused me to unsubscribe.

There are many technologies that help marketers curate preferences of those receiving their communications—ranging from desired frequency to topics of particular interest. Many of these technologies are expensive, so they get bypassed to the “one-size-fits-all” default.

My recent experience caused me to think about relatively easy, inexpensive ways to assess interest without having to spend a ton of money developing sophisticated CRM protocols to accomplish the task. In many cases, the current way to do this is simply to provide the “unsubscribe” option—which leaves out a ton of possibilities and alienates folks who might otherwise become buyers.

Here are simple options to begin the process:

  1. Just ask. Query the recipient with the first outreach, allowing him/her to fill out a quick preference survey for future communications. The key here is “quick.” Apprise the recipient that this will take no more than a couple minutes. Even if he/she doesn’t respond, you’ve established that you’re interested in knowing their interests and preferences—which starts building some customer-service goodwill. Upon revisiting the first outreach from the company in question, I did see a friendly option to unsubscribe if the volume of information becomes excessive. It would have been helpful if I had more options than receiving or opting out. Depending on volume, creating this customized CRM to reach out in the manner requested can become complicated and expensive.But, think about the expense versus losing many potential prospects with the “one-size-fits-all” system.
  2. Monitor periodically. Occasionally, see who has clicked on some link or shown any level of perceptible interest. For those who’ve been silent but haven’t unsubscribed, send a personalized email to see where they’re at. For those who’ve responded once in awhile or regularly, reach out in a personalized way to do some relationship building. In many cases, these folks may be just in need of some old-fashioned personal attention to move the process along. Such standard email programs as Mail Chimp provide analytics. Assess how many people opened, clicked through, unsubscribed, etc. And, drilling down to identify those expressing interest also is relatively easy. Typically, contact information is readily available via prospect email address.
  3. Be less present, change the messaging, and gauge results. If you’ve been reaching out daily, do weekly and compare results. If you’ve been weekly, try bi-weekly or monthly. And so on. Consider sacking up multiple items in this less-frequent format. Going from daily to weekly, for example, combine some/all topics previously addressed individually. Then, compare results on the email program to see response trends. If response goes up consistently to less-frequent communications, this can be a strong indicator that the outreach needs to be less frequent and contain several “story lines.” As part of all this, vary the topics and look for trends that show more or less interest based on click-throughs.“Opens” will show initial interest; clicks will establish response to certain messages/topics. Where interest is strong, do more along similar lines; where interest is weak, try other messaging. Also include questions that enable recipients to offer input about areas/topics of interest.

None of this is rocket science. It’s pure common sense. It shows that you’re paying attention. And it shows a commitment to caring for a customer even before he or she becomes one.

Information overload coupled with inattention is creating a variety of customer service challenges. One of them, seemingly ironically, is over-communication that leads to incomplete reading and, in some cases, lack of action altogether.  How do you get fully heard, and have all of your concerns addressed?

Do you have customer service snafus or stellar experiences to share? If so, feel free to comment on this post or email your thoughts to


Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

One reply on “Downloading a whitepaper leads to email bombardment”

On target. I made one info query regarding HARP. I didn’t know what it was do I clicked the link and was, as you said, deluged with calls and emails from mortgage lenders. Some of them are still calling even though I finally gave in and answered a couple of calls to tell them to remove me from their list.

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