Category Archives: email marketing

Email and Event Marketing on Facebook Doesn’t Work

Outside of some close friends, one of the little known secrets about me is that I used to salsa dance. Not only did I enjoy dancing, I also competed in group and couples competitions. Like all enthusiasts, I subscribed to all the salsa lists to learn about upcoming events, lessons with outside instructors and more. Since I broke my ankle preparing for a competition (um, long story =), I’ve discontinued following the salsa activities and unsubscribed from all the lists. At least I thought I did.

Recently, I’ve started receiving notifications about these events, not through my email, but through Facebook. It’s getting so bad, that I’m on the verge of unfriending someone who has been sending me the most number of “event notifications.” In one case to be removed from a list, the response I received was: “however, please be advised this is a public event and it could be that one of your friends who originally received the invite from me extended the event invitation to you.”

Three Things to Consider Before Hitting Send on Facebook

 While the full potential of Facebook is yet to be tapped by marketers and businesses, here are some key considerations before dropping your email lists into Facebook:

  1. Relationships Matter: The intrinsic value of Facebook is that friends are great filters for knowing what I like and don’t like. Make sure you have an established relationship before sending an email or invite to someone, which leads to
  2. Permission Marketing: Seth Godin’s book is key to engaging people via online marketing. Make sure you received permission from someone first. If you’re seeking to migrate your email list to Facebook, then be transparent about what you’re doing. Personally, the best thing is to ask those on your email lists if they would like to be contacted via Facebook – this way, they opt in for your Facebook communications.
  3. CAN-SPAM Compliance: While I don’t know what the legalities are, I assume that Facebook communications would fall under the CAN Spam Act with regard to commercial content. As stated on the FTC website:

“Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as ‘any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,’ including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.”

As such, make sure to allow for peopel to easily opt out of future communications.


To my knowledge, there is no way for me to opt out of someone’s “marketing” communications. Rather, I have to go to each group or event to leave. This is frustrating as many times, I have not directly signed up for the initial communications. Ideally, Facebook would create a backend platform tool for marketers to manage these types of communications. Similar to existing email solutions, the communications platform would enable businesses to:

  • Send communications to people who have opted in
  • Manage opt out requests for individual groups/events or everything managed by that business
  • Monitor response rates, unsubscribes and clickthroughs for the communications
  • Provide trending reports, such as friend referrals, time of day opens, etc.
  • And much much more

And for members, we should be able to filter out communications beyond just the spam button. For example, I do want to stay updated with my friend, I just don’t want all the updates regarding the next salsa class or bachata dance off.  What recommendations would you provide for marketers and to Facebook?


PR Meets Marketing Weekly Article: April 24, 2008

You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed.


If you feel that you have an article that would fit in the weekly articles, leave a comment and I’ll check it our for the following week’s digest. Enjoy.


E-Mail Marketing – According to eMarketer, don’t underestimate email. Relevancy to your audience is key to the success of email marketing promotions and offers.


Delicious Measurement – Courtesy of measurement maven, KD Paine, I found this article about how delicious can be used for measuring PR. I do use delicious to track my personal blog postings and company information. This posting reminds me I should look into them more closely.


Persistence Counts – Mr. Tom Pick underscores the importance of persistence when pitching bloggers. Great tips for getting through to key bloggers and getting their attention. Note to self – add to page about pitching bloggers.


ROI of Online Press Releases – Larissa Fair of The Buzz Bin provided a summary of a survey regarding the ROI of online press releases. I have to agree with Larissa, I’m little surprised that the main goal of the release was to reach media. Frankly, press releases should be to reach your target audiences – media find out about your stuff when you contact them =)


What’s the Trend? – TechCrunch has a useful post about apps to help find trends in Facebook walls and Twitter. This is useful for getting a sense of what people are writing about and tracking it. Wonder when someone will combine Google with these other apps for one big trending application?


Customer Approved – Golden Practices provides some useful tips on how to get those tricky customer testimonials. What I usually do is offer to draft a quote for customers, but it’s based on what they’ve told me over the phone. I like some of the approach and will file this away for my next customer call.



Where Dell Succeeds, Citibank Fails

Citibank Email

As people who have read my blog, I have a bone to pick with Citibank regarding their email marketing tactics and, in my opinion, poor customer service (see here and here). I still don’t understand how they are voted one of the best. 

Mack Collier at The Viral Garden wrote about Dell’s turnaround in the social medium. If only Citibank could follow suit.

Simple ways to provide better service and participate: 

  1. Monitor and respond to any posts about Citibank

  2. Respond to snail mail letters with a letter, email or phone call

  3. Provide an unsubscribe service for those who have cancelled accounts (FYI – I was required to change my profile settings to stop the emails which I can’t do since I cancelled my email account, hence the problem) 

  4. Allow your customer service representatives to automatically cancel email notices instead of quoting a 30 day period for stopping correspondence. Obviously, this didn’t work either. Didn’t you know that email is NOT snail mail? An ability to go into a database and delete my email shouldn’t be so complicated.So I’m officially starting my Citibank Watch. How many days before I 1) hear back from Citibank and/or 2) get them to stop sending me useless email messages I can’t unsubscribe from.

Here are the dates:          # of days since my first letter to Citibank: 90 Days

# of days since writing to William R. Rhodes, CEO of Citibank: 29 Days

I’ll try to do an automatic clock. If you know of a simple code that I can add, please send me an email.  

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Plea to Citigroup: Stop Emailing Me Part Deux

Sigh. Since my original email about Citibank spamming me, I wrote directly to William R. Rhodes, CEO of Citibank (see Citibank Letter). Typically, writing to the CEO gets an immediate response. I sent this out on September 31, 2007.

And what happens?  No, I didn’t hear anything from Citibank. Instead, I received yet another a spam email (see below) that was the crux of my original frustrating situation. ARGH!

Isn’t this a great way to engage with your customers, especially when you consider I’m used both old school (snail mailing a letter) and new school (blogging about my frustration) ways to highlight my situation. 

I know I said I would write to the BBB and DMA in my last post. I thought, just thought, that writing to the CEO would actually elicit a response. Boy was I wrong. 

Check out the latest “offer” below. Note irony of adding money to an e-savings account that I closed in May.

Obviously, they’re using “updated” information about my relationship with them. Or do they think I’m expendable for the sake of getting some of their customers to click through on their offers? 

Me thinks Citibank needs to read Permission Marketing by Seth Godin.  Next stop, more letter writing…

Citibank Email

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Plea to Citibank: Stop Emailing Me!

CitibankEmailSince going in-house , I’ve learned about email marketing and the concept of permission marketing, as popularized by Seth Godin.  The one key concept is the idea of opting in for marketing promotions from a company. And according to the Can Spam Act, commercial emailers must provide a way for people to opt out of emails.

So here I am, sitting in front of my computer, sending my plea to Citibank – please, please stop emailing me! And if Citibank PR is actually monitoring the blogosphere, can you help me?

Here’s where the story began… earlier this year, I cancelled my account with Citibank but continued to get marketing emails for various offers. At first, I followed a link to change preferences on my profile to stop receiving emails. When I tried to follow the link, I couldn’t get in becuase – which is ironic, I no longer had an account with Citibank. Now what?

Every month for the past 5 months, I’ve called like clockwork to get my email address expunged from Citibank’s database. Every time, I’m told, “Sure, I’ll put in a request. Let me know what your email address is and you should stop getting emails next month.” I’ve even tried writing to get my contact info out with no success.

And today, what do I get. Another frigging marketing email with no way to unsubscribe from future marketing promotions (Check out the bottom of the email here – CitibankNoUnsubscribe)!!!!

Whether you’re in PR or Marketing, we all know this is a no brainer. Don’t send emails to people who don’t want it. So courtesy of the Consumerist , if you’ve had problems with Citibank, go past customer service and write to the top dog:

William R Rhodes, CEO
399 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10022
NY Tel. 212-559-1000

And if you’re interested in calling, the Consumerist provides details to get through the executive customer service.

August 22, 2007 Update: I just found the letter that I wrote back in early July but obviously that was useless. Check out the Citibank Letter. Next step, letters to DMA and BBB =)

Ken Villano
Chairman and CEO
Citibank’s Service Center
100 Citibank Drive
Building 3, 1st Floor
San Antonio, TX 78245

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