Who Really Wants Mail from 850 Hotels?

My long time friend and colleague Kelly Molloy of Return Path recently posted some observations on her Facebook timeline regarding some opt-in mail she recently received from a well-known brand. She’s given me permission to repost them here:

‎”Starwood Hotels and Resorts wants you to make the most of the Starwood experience. That’s why you’ll soon be receiving exclusive emails from us, featuring special offers and preferred rates at over 850 hotels and resorts worldwide.”

I don’t actually care about 850 hotels and resorts worldwide. I care about, like, three or four. But I can’t narrow my choices, and special offers for 850 hotels sounds like more mail than I want, so I’ll unsub. If you had given me a choice, I would have chosen the locations I want to know about.

I doubt Kelly believes she would have received mail from each of 850 Starwood properties, and I don’t think Starwood had actually intended to do that. But Kelly makes a good point in a humorous way. Starwood surely can get to the data about which properties its repeat customers usually stay at and how often. They should have used that information to finely target offers to the recipients that are most likely to engage with them.

Plastering an opt-in list with generic offers that aren’t tailored to anyone is not just a wasted opportunity, it actually causes recipients to revoke hard-won permission to send (or worse, to report permissioned e-mail as spam).

The first few words of the mail are quite telling: “Starwood wants.” Starwood would be better served by considering their recipients’ wants instead. And, of course, so would their customers.

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