Friday’s Brain Dead Emails

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The McKinsey Quarterly Goes Social
The McKinsey Quarterly dropped me an email yesterday to let me know about the exciting new features that they’ve added: RSS feeds and social bookmarking! A very social and up-to-date organization, apparently. Interesting, then that they still follow the distinctly anti-social practice of sending me email from a dead address, with the friendly note “PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL.” Way to start conversations, kids.

Update (4 hours post-publishing): To expand a little bit on the above, a snippet from an email that I sent to a correspondent who prefers not to be named. I’ll just say that I’m pleased and impressed when people respond very reasonably to criticism that might perhaps be called “snarky.”

What struck me about the email, though, is that in a message that’s about social communication tools being introduced, the email tells people how they shouldn’t communicate (all caps “PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL”) rather than telling them what they should do if they want to communicate with you. Why not shift the focus to providing guidance to subscribers, rather than stopping one particular behavior?

Amazon Recommends Pretending to Target Emails
In other news, the Amazon recommendation email situation that I’ve blogged about before continues its slide into absurdity. For a quick recap:

  • Back in the winter of 2005 Amazon would email me about stuff like an opportunity to get an 18% discount when pre-ordering an M83 album because I’d bought “Svefn-G-Englar” by Sigur Rós. Good.
  • In the spring of 2007 Kim Cameron wrote about the same sort of positive experience with Amazon recommendation emails. Excellent.
  • Come the winter of 2008, things get ugly. Because I have “shopped for electronics” (not purchased, mind you, but shopped for) Amazon emails me to recommend that I buy an Archos DVR. Lame. I have to assume there’s a new hire in the marketing department.

And now it’s the spring of 2008 and that new marketing hire appears to have settled in for the long haul. What’s the latest recommendation email from Amazon?

As someone who purchased video games or music from genres included in the game, you might be interested in our Grand Theft Auto IV music downloads store.

Seriously, Amazon? I’ve purchased “video games or music from genres included in the game?” Wouldn’t it be simpler to just skip a couple of steps and move directly into emailing me whatever your marketing department wants to send, whenever they want to send it? Once useful email program, fast becoming a sad joke.