Ignoring this one thing tells the people on your list all they need to know about how much you care about them.

This company came SOOOO close to a great implementation… I still cannot believe that marketers shoot themselves and their companies in the foot like this!  Here’s the very true story:

Backstory is this:  We own a boat – a 42 foot trawler.  And we purchased some teak treatment from Total Boat (Jamestown Distributors), which is a terrific product.  That purchase landed me on their email list.

Follow-Up to Reactivate Lead

Pic 1: Original email to reactivate my interest

I recently received this email from them – noting that I’d not purchased in a while. I scrolled through the email for a combination of reasons – I like their products, and the email came at the right time, because we’re almost out west again, and boat projects will start up in the coming year. Here it is – see pic 1.

Curiosity Piqued!

I saw an item in the email that made me curious, so I clicked through it to find out what it was.  But the product description didn’t actually identify WHEN I would use this product or what it was for, so I didn’t get my answer – and I was just curious, so I didn’t take any other action.

BUT – OMG – They Paid Attention To My Click!

The next day, I received an email follow-up from them, asking if I was still interested in the product I’d clicked through to see.

Super Cool!  This just NEVER happens, so when it does, I get excited to see great marketing practices in action – and it shows that they are paying attention!  Yay.

I Wanted To Reply…

So I hit reply to let them know WHY I had clicked through and that I was curious what that particular product was used for, and wanted more information. 

Here’s my reply (see pic 2). You’ll probably notice the TO address in my reply, but I didn’t notice it when I was writing; I just wrote my response and clicked send, never even thinking (based on what had happened already) that this (keep reading) could happen.

My Reply To Their Nurture Email

Pic 2 – My reply to Jamestown Distributors

Then… One big mistake… (see pic 3 below):

UGH!!  Now I know, they DO NOT CARE a whit about me and what I’m interested in – it’s all a ploy to get me to buy – such a let down!!  Email marketing is not like social media marketing – it’s about building a relationship with people – and I’m a past customer. 

Yet they left out a big part of what builds a relationship – and that is the ability to converse – to have a conversation.  What they want is for me to purchase, so likely implemented the automated response based on what I looked at – yet are doing so with a DO NOT REPLY email! 

All this tells me (and anyone else) is that they aren’t interested in being reachable or creating a relationship, or learning what else might help their site improve – they don’t want to be bothered.  They just want me to buy something – and think that by responding with a personalized email (delightful) would nudge me to do that.

Total Boat FAIL - using donotreply email...

Pic 3 – Epic FAIL – using donotreply email

Adding Insult to Injury…

Take a read through that email bounce… It doesn’t even look like a relevant response to my email reply!!  What in the world is this?? It appears to have been written by the Jamestown Distributors team — and it’s another fail – on top of the donotreply fail.  I’m left thinking, what the ____?!


Why can’t they care enough to use an email that is actually monitored?  Do they think they’d be inundated by responses?  Most do – but in reality very FEW people actually respond.  Those who do are actually HYPER responsive usually, and what misses the mark is being willing to monitor an inbox to add that extra value. I bet if I responded on Social media, they would respond back – but email is just “do what we want” mechanism.

More to the point, reading my reply and actually answering my question COULD have resulted in an additional sale. I might have bought that product had I been clear on why I needed it. As a customer, I feel ignored. As a marketer, this actually makes me sad.

Unfortunate Marketing Assumptions That Result…

I’m sure they wonder why it is that “personalizing” and “lead nurturing” doesn’t work as well as they’d like!  It’s a TOTALBOAT (see what I did there?) turn off for me – they do not care.  Yet they came so close to delighting me. And it was dashed in an instant.  So close… and yet… so far. This is a customer engagement (and email marketing) FAIL.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on using donotreply@ email addresses (this one actually came from their info@ email – and directed replies to a donotreply email).

Also – look at their response – somehow I don’t qualify to send them an email – the message (apparently formatted and written by the Jamestown Distributor team) is HORRIBLE.  How would it make you feel?

The idea of email marketing is to connect – and email performs 4000% better than social at turning a lead into a customer.  But there’s no replacement for lack of caring and just trying to execute “tactics” all for results without any of the true personalization.

Don’t be these marketers!