What Were They Thinking? Great Marketing Gaffes

by Andy Worobel on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Digital Marketing

I’m gearing up for my 20th high school reunion this summer.  That alone is horrifying in many ways, but the old pictures popping up online take the cake.  Big 80s hair.  Tall. Teased.  Wicked scary.  It begs the question: What were we thinking?

But I’ve witnessed horrors in the marketing space that beg the same question.  Here are my some of my recent favorites:

  • Two solid years worth of spam - AKA not monitoring your emotional unsubs – ever.  A client of ours just rejoined the ranks of smart folks at BMC Software after a two-year hiatus.  When she sat down to her new computer for the first time, she noticed she had email.  Two years worth of it to be exact.  From the same company.  Come on!  If someone doesn’t click on a single one of your emails for two years, do you really think they’re still interested?  This is what we would call an inactive contact.  Clear them out – fast.


  • Send an email with the subject line that says (simply) “Save $1.50.”  On what? So I’m the first to admit that I like to save a few bucks, but you don’t even tell me WHAT I might save six quarters on.  You think I’m going to open your email?  Make the subject line  clear and compelling, and match that with relevant content.  Then test like crazy.   


  • Launch a Marketing Automation project without inviting IT and/or CRM team.  Really?  You didn’t really want closed-loop reporting did you?  Or maybe a few tags on your website so you can track visitor behavior?  Do yourself a favor.  Take them to lunch or buy them a beer.  Apologize profusely for the momentary loss of sanity.  Then invite them to the party and don’t let them leave.

So come on, share your best stuff.  Then let’s all resolve not to make hideous mistakes like ‘80s hair again – or at least not for another 20 years.


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