Yesterday, I received an eBay marketing email to an account I’ve held since August 1999. For more than a decade I have been using that ID to buy and sell bits and bobs. Maybe a vintage paperback, a historical curio, doubtless a Doctor Who DVD or two and more recently items related to British seaside piers and Edwardian postcards. Never clothes. Never shoes.
In more than a decade, my buying and selling with that account has shown nothing more than I am a fogey, nose in a book, with a keen interest in history and tat and British sci-fi of an often low calibre.
At no point have I given eBay the impression that I am some tattooed hipster or a chavvy jack-the-lad who is about to roll up my trousers to reveal my ankles (or mankles as the kids probably don’t call them) and -as the title of the email distastefully suggests- “Work the Moccasins Trend”.
Moreover, I think that I have given eBay adequate evidence over the years that I am highly unlikely to snap up a Superdry WOMEN’S miniskirt. See figure 2.
In an age of uber-targetting, audience segmentation, and trying to hone marketing messages to individual users, eBay have turned back the clock to 2001 and are indulging in an email marketing practice that should be known as “shit flinging”. Just chuck any old crap out there and let’s hope it will stick.
It’s wrong for two reasons, Firstly, clever and dedicated marketeers could create specific marketing messages that would be of interest to me. But that would be hard work. It would mean looking at what people like me buy, and honing an email for people like me. In a meeting, they considered it for a second and considered how much work it would be before getting the key to the cupboard where they keep the Shit Flingers.
And anyway, it wouldn’t “nest” with eBay’s priorities, would it? I want to buy secondhand crap at auction, they want me to buy fashion with BIN. The subtext behind this email is: “No more Penguin paperbacks for you Mister Vilson, YOU VILL BUY AN AMERICAN APPAREL DAY-GLO GILLET, OR ELSE.”
The second reason it’s wrong: it just doesn’t bloody work. A one size fits all email to millions of people will never work all that well. Ask the Nigerians. Granted, some cosseted MBA at eBay HQ who has had a drilling and brainwashing from the University of Overprivilege at considerable expense to papa, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a major in Evasion, Prevarication and Self-aggrandisement will tweak the numbers to show that “Everyone loves Mocassins”.
And next week, we’ll love Deck Shoes, and the week after we’ll adore Espadrilles, soon brothelcreepers, clogs and even the humble rubber sandal or “jelly” will be all the rage. Because the numbers never lie… do they? Nein.
eBay. If you don’t know me by now. You will never ever know me at all