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A woman peering through blinds, as if spying

You’ve sent out that latest newsletter on behalf of your client, and excitedly they login, watching their pie chart change colours as people open the email.

Everybody loves the reporting and statistics you can get from using Campaign Monitor, because it makes it so easy to see what is working, and what is not.

In fact, it can become quite addictive!

So it is easy to forget that your subscribers might not feel quite the same way about being tracked and recorded. While many people have some understanding about click tracking (and things like Outlook’s read receipts), they can be understandably uncomfortable with the idea of someone watching everything they do.

Recently Neville Hobson wrote on his blog about an email he received from Dell Computers. The email was targetted at people who had not opened Dell’s previous campaigns.

… I was taken aback when I read the text alongside the ‘Shock, horror!’ title:

Can we take a minute of your time? It’s just that it seems you haven’t opened any of our recent emails.

Wtf? I thought to myself. How does Dell know I haven’t opened an email?

Leaving aside the fact that not all opens can be recorded, clearly Neville was surprised and shocked that the information was known about him.

Neville later goes on to clarify the core of his feelings:

Maybe it’s the approach in Dell’s email that offends me, the wording that in one way or another says “We’re watching you and what you do on your computer, and you won’t know about it – unless you don’t open our emails, and then we’re gonna jump on you.”

It’s a timely reminder that privacy and the ownership of their own activity is very important to most people. Even though the open and click tracking is available, we should treat it very carefully.

That means not being too aggressive in your phrasing, and not assuming that the small amount of information you have about someone’s activity means you understand what they want and need.

Most of your subscribers won’t be upset if you use your reports to decide what content is not as interesting to them, and drop it from the emails they see. They would probably be happy to see the improvement!

They don’t need to have shoved into their face how you worked that out though. You could end up like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, gleaning more and more information each campaign until it gets you into big trouble.

So tread carefully, be respectful of people’s inbox, their privacy and the complex balance between making an email useful, and abusing personal information. If you are dealing with particularly sensitive topics, like health, then you probably need to be even more cautious.

How do you think your subscribers would feel if they understood exactly what was being recorded when they read your emails?

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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