Beware of Potentially Misleading Direct Email Marketing

Direct Email Marketing seems to be an ever-increasing means of delivering a sales message to a targeted audience. Since it’s simple, relatively inexpensive and if conducted properly, effective, it’s no real surprise. However, having recently received some email marketing that I consider to be extremely misleading, I have to question the morals behind some of the campaigns being run.

Warning sign - misleading direct email marketing

The Email Marketing in Question

At first glance, it appeared to be a poorly targeted direct marketing email, the type you simply “file” in Deleted Items after a quick glance. Nevertheless, for some reason, I chose to read it fully, since I have been misled by this company in the past, albeit then, it was via mail marketing as oppose to email.

The email informed me that my insurance policy for Zamzam, one of our dogs, was “shortly due for renewal”  and that they were “taking this opportunity to tell me about the changes they proposed to make to my policy when I become one of their exclusive Policy+ clients”.

Our puppy Zamzam

Zamzam

Now I must point out that it didn’t offer me the opportunity to become a Policy+ member, it simply said that “should I choose NOT to continue being a Policy+ member” (had I therefore already been made one, I wonder?), I should contact them….at which they gave me a telephone number and email address to contact.

The email went on to describe additional benefits that I would begin to receive, including a multi-policy discount, a reduced policy excess, over 50’s discount (which, since I’m 44, is a prime example of a poorly worded / targeted marketing email) …  As I continued to read, I actually began to think that maybe this was a bonus for having been a long-standing customer with three policies, as all pointed towards its being free of charge – all excellent stuff.

And now, the catch!!

When I had almost got to the bottom, there was a paragraph entitled “Notice of Change to Direct Debit Payment Amount” – the premiums were to automatically increase by 15% as from the next instalment date in 20 days time, unless I contacted them to say I didn’t want the upgrade!

Misleading direct email marketing

How how many people won’t read that far down, or won’t even open the email at all! How misled did I feel – certainly no email marketing should be conceivable as being misleading! At this, I re-read the earlier wording that had led me to believe the upgrade was free and all I can say is that the text was very “skilfully” worded – on reflection, the only thing that was actually free was their “offer of discounts from selected partners”, not the actual discounts and certainly not the additional benefits they had pointed out I would soon be enjoying!

Final Thought

In my opinion, this email was misleading at best! Clearly, not everyone is as honest as we are at Data Bubble. Our business has its reputation built on the whole ethos of transparency and honesty – anyone who has come into contact with us will hopefully endorse that – so I find such tactics as this abhorrent. Such emails, I believe, portray a very dim picture of the direct marketing industry and only add fuel to the fire regarding over-regulation within the industry – another example of the many being punished for the actions of the few.

The ICO can help if you are the recipient of misleading direct email marketing

The FCA can assist if you feel you've received a misleading direct marketing email

 

So, whilst email marketing is by and large well directed, please be wary of such seemingly unmissable offers and read them thoroughly when they arrive. It might be difficult to know which direct marketing emails you should read and which you shouldn’t, so choose carefully and if it’s from a company that you have current dealings with, be extra careful. Don’t take it for granted that if it’s a big company with a national shop window that it will be any more trustworthy than someone you’ve never heard of. If you do come across any such instances, please report them to the relevant industry regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – plus to the company issuing the email!!!

 

 

 

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Direct Marketing Tips – Right Message, Right Person, Right Time

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