The Weakness Of Email Marketing: Your Snake Oil Leaves A Slimy Record
I got an email from Rosetta Stone last night, informing me kindly that it was my last chance to take advantage of a special $209 deal for a discount on a year’s worth of their automated foreign language instruction software. The deal would end last night, Rosetta Stone said, and so I had better act fast.
The thing is, I have been getting similar emails from Rosetta Stone’s email marketing program for months.
On June 29, I was told by a Rosetta Stone marketing email that the $209 email would expire that evening. Other special discounts were ending soon back in May, April, March, and beforehand. Some of the discount deals were for $199. Some were for $219.
What’s amazing to me is that the Rosetta Stone email marketing team expects me not to notice that their supposedly expiring offers keep on coming back. They’re offering to train me to learn foreign languages, but expecting that I can’t read the pattern of repeated emails in plain English, clogging up my inbox.
The discount price changes every now and then, but the supposedly special offers have been coming like clockwork.
The clock is not ticking toward an end of deals. The clock is just ticking on and on and on and on and on.
The email marketers hired by Rosetta Stone are trying to use a cheap trick, developed by hucksters at places like the boardwalk of Atlantic City, called the false sense of urgency. They try to stop potential customers from thinking critically by manufacturing the perception that a special deal is on for only a limited time, and so, to grab the savings, it’s important to act fast. There’s no time to think!
The reality is that there’s always time to think, and deals are almost never really available for only a limited time. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is just trying to get you to buy a product that they know is substandard in quality.
It’s not just slimy software companies that use this approach of false urgency, of course. Politicians do it too. They tell us, over and over again, of the urgency of certain situations. If they aren’t resolved right away, they say, disaster will befall us… and then, when those situations aren’t resolved, and disaster doesn’t befall us, they wait a few months and then start the warnings up all over again.
The nuclear negotiations with Iran are subject to this huckster’s tactic. Over and over again, Republicans tell us that Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, and unless we act now to attack, we will all be sorry. We’ve been hearing this message for the better part of a decade. Yet, the Republicans expect us not to remember the way their warnings proved to be hollow so many times in the past.
The more politicians use this tactic, the less likely we are to pay attention when an urgent threat really does emerge. Like the boy who cried “wolf”, the politicians who cry “Nuclear Iran” have hurt their own cause, using cheap tactics to grab attention instead of holding serious language in reserve for when it is genuinely necessary.