“Do you want to save 10% on your purchase? Sign up for our emails below.” (But wait, there’s more.)

If I am truly about to make a purchase or if I am seriously thinking about it, I’d enter my email address. I can always opt out later, right? Yes, I know, I rarely opt out but okay, I saved some dough. Simple transaction; email for a discount. That’s fair.

As SMS texting becomes more popular for marketers, the lead-gen tactics used to GET mobile numbers have veered off the road of ethics, straight down Chicanery Lane.

As you’ve no doubt experienced, the process is often different. “Do you want to save 10% on your purchase?” You see the familiar empty box in which to enter your email and, just underneath it, you see the “NEXT” button. Clicking “NEXT,” you expect, should take you to your shopping experience. But it doesn’t. You get to another screen that reads “Now enter your mobile number for SMS text signup to receive your discount.”

Wait. I don’t want to give you my mobile phone number. Few things irritate me more than random BS text messages. So, I “X” out and shop. But guess what? I have, even according to the privacy policy, signed up for your emails. Hang on, city slicker. Had I known I was going to be required to give up my email address AND cellphone number to save X% on a potential purchase, I’d always end up at the same place, No.

So, what do most people do? My wife easily enters her mobile number. After all, she’s about to potentially save some money on a potential purchase. She has no respect for her SMS inbox. (She never reads my posts, so I can be a tough guy with my tone.) If you look at her incoming text list, it looks exactly like….you guessed it… the inbox of my secondary email address I use for shopping. It’s a graveyard of now irrelevant offers. Sure, they made sense a couple of years ago, but not now. Sorry BBQGuys, I bought the grill and all the optional stuff. I’m done with you.

By the way, for those of you waiting for me to pause to say “But John, you can always opt-out” sorry, but A) I rarely do, and B) when I DO opt out, I can hardly point to a successful opt-out. It seems as if most of those marketing emails keep coming! Also, this assumes an easy opt-out process. Slick marketers like to make it hard to opt out now with triple clicks and various unchecks needed to opt out. I don’t understand how some marketers are so clueless when it comes to brand protection. If I say I want to opt out of emails, it should be an easy, one-click process. If it’s more complicated, you are clearly showing me you don’t respect me or my time. Sure, in the short run, you’ll be able to stand up in a meeting and report you’re an email marketing genius based on low opt-outs. But in the long run, you’ll have to explain a drop in “customer” return rates. But I digress.

So, what’s wrong with all of this? First, and don’t get me started, my wife takes time to respond to important texts. Of course, she does. She has to scroll through a dozen marketing texts to see “Please pick up the kids, I’m running late.” (Yes, I’ll call and text and call until I reach her, so rest assured the kids are never without a ride.) So now, important texts must compete with promotional texts about shoes. Shoes. How the heck can I compete with shoes? By the way, if you know me, you know I’m a bit of a prankster. So, to stand out, I added an eggplant emoji to my name on her phone, so when I text, she’s more likely to see it. Juvenile, I know.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of being bombarded with promotional messages. My SMS inbox is my safe place. Texts are for my wife, kids, parents, sister, cousins, friends, essential work contacts, and Nigerian royalty who need short-term loans to get access to the billions they’re going to share with me. That’s it.

But here’s the issue I have. If you have to “trick” me into giving me my cellphone number, why on earth should I trust you with it? Just be straight with me. “Do you want to save 10% on your purchase? Enter your email and mobile phone number below.” Or, how about “…enter either your email or mobile phone number below.” Or, better yet, “…enter your email for 5% off your next purchase or add your mobile phone number for an additional 5%.” Don’t take advantage of my normal instincts to enter an email address (for which you automatically consider it an opt-in) and then ask for my mobile phone number in order to receive the discount. The worst part? You don’t send my discount when I don’t enter my cellphone number. Man, that’s lower than low.

This is a slippery slope, my fellow marketers. Be careful with your brand. You don’t own it – your customers do. Treasure your customers and they’ll be loyal for the right reasons. Pull sneaky tricks like the one mentioned above, you’ll frantically be working on customer retention issues later.

Let me know what you think.

#marketing #texting #smsmarketing #sms #brandbuilding #protectyourbrand #openrate #digitalamarketing

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