Thoughts on entrepreneurship, startups, and tech.


Why Don’t They Know Me Better

I don’t know about you but ‘Black Friday’, ‘Cyber Monday’ and ‘Year End’ are the times of the year I receive the most promotional e-mail and what astounds me is how little companies know about me.

Industry experts estimate that in the days leading up events like the one’s mentioned, major brands send up to 14 billion e-mails to us and to put that into perspective, the average daily e-mail traffic is only roughly 5 billion. You’d think that some of these giant consumer behemoths might take a minute and actually work out what exactly might catch our interest, even take the time to read and maybe eventually buy — before dumping all this digital trash on us. You’re still a believer that this the old school theory of flooding inboxes with flashy graphics and cheaply composed text is really going to put your company “back in the black” (the true origin of Black Friday)? Still making your case internally with some fancy stats that have an increasing amount of zeros in front of those figures making up your dwindling interaction rates? And what about the things you can’t measure like social influence, feelings, and brand identity — are you sure the indelible mark you’re leaving on your consumers is the one your brand initially set out to achieve?

All year long I leave my “footprint” in companies of all sizes, either by walking through their doors (and I am flabbergasted by the number that don’t know I’ve visited — and even more by those that don’t even try) or by visiting and purchasing from their websites and online stores. The latter, these “digital physical contacts” are more and more subject to a wide array of gizmos that pick up and register pieces of my web DNA but rarely, if never, used appropriately primarily because of their sheer mind-numbing volume and NASA level complexity to be quickly and practically put to good use. But do companies really care?

I don’t think so and if they did I certainly wouldn’t receive such rubbish in my inbox. How can globally recognized brands with all their “brains and powerful resources” send me e-mails about things that don’t even faintly follow what I have consumed before, faintly want, dimly resemble who I am or those that are close to me in the slightest way?! I’m not going to publicly point fingers but to make a point, I received on “that famous Friday” promos that concerned domestic animals (that I don’t own), high-end fishing equipment (that admittedly I loved to do when I was kid but haven’t touched in 25 years) and a fancy watch (I despise putting anything on my wrists yet along with a price tag equivalent of roughly what I earn per year). What’s astonishing is that these not only came from brands that “should” know me (that I have bought from previously) but also from those that I have visited, read extensive product reviews about and even saved products for later purchase on their websites. Whatever the reason, I’m astonished someone at their head offices isn’t pushing teams to stop playing roulette and concentrate on resolving identified search results, purchased items and ‘wish list’ queries.

What this all boils down too is common sense and practical hands-on expertise. Shoppers are everywhere but in the lush meeting rooms of global consumer giants, one needs only to go and review our buying habits and measurable behaviour (through the increasingly available digital and physical tags) before making ridiculous decisions that try to persuade customers to purchase junk — the rank and file are definitely more inclined to go where their needs are heard and matched.