Online Media Daily

By David Goetzl

PARK CITY, Utah – Victoria’s Secret was lucky not to lose a customer. In fact, when word trickles back to headquarters about what happened with a recent email promotion, new quality control might be implemented.

Recent college grad Amy Piggott scours her email for special offers from her favorite retailers — one of which is Victoria’s Secret. She did appreciate the marketing newsletters she received from the company.

But then something curious happened. She received a message promoting the last day of a sale for an item she wanted on VictoriasSecret.com.

Then the next day, she got the same exact email.

“I was pissed,” she said. “I was like … you lied to me. And actually, I’ve never opened an email from them since. I felt betrayed.”

Still, she has not unsubscribed from the Victoria’s Secret email list. “Maybe I’m lazy,” she said. So, sometimes she does notice subject lines about impressive sales, which drive her into the brick-and-mortar store, but she says she has dropped all online shopping.

Piggott may be a little testier than most, considering that she works in the e-marketing field.

But her story about an apparent Victoria’s Secret malfunction sent the audience at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit into uproarious laughter Monday. She joined four others making the transition from school to the workforce on a focus-group panel about whether attitudes and behaviors toward email and social media are changing.

The discussion was wide-ranging. And the email marketers in attendance seemed to appreciate the opportunity to leave behind the office and ask questions directly to potential target consumers.

Michelle Prieb, a project manager at the Ball State Center for Media Design, served as the moderator. (The panel included one grad student.)

Panelists with iPhones said they rarely use them as phones — instead for Facebook, Twitter, taking pictures, shooting movies, etc. One woman said she has gone with a BlackBerry instead because AT&T offers such spotty service with the iPhone.

“I don’t have an iPhone because I’d actually like to receive my phone calls,” said Jennifer Peterson, an executive assistant with Nu Skin Enterprises.

Again, the room howled.

Later, however, AT&T got some praise when Meredith Larrabee, an education coordinator at the University of Utah, said she’s enamored with an iPhone app that alerts her when she has paid her phone bill.

Two panelists said they are no longer active on MySpace, having dropped it several years ago. Facebook is near ubiquitous in most of their lives, including via mobile devices.

Twitter is also popular, so much so that Peterson said her work colleagues use it together even though they sit so close together. “I feel like it’s kind of pathetic that we kind of tweet each other from our cubicles, but that’s the world we live in,” she said.

Jared Tamez, a history graduate student at the University of Utah, offered email marketers some dour news, saying he actively unsubscribes to lists. One particular complaint: marketers can get a little too familiar.

“They use my first name in the title of the email and I hate that,” Tamez said. “Because you’re not my friend — what are you doing? If you’re going to sell me a product, do it. I don’t want to be your friend; don’t pretend like (we) are.”

Multiple panelists said they have several email accounts, with one for personal email and another to isolate marketing messages.

Separately, they indicated that subject lines are critical in grabbing their attention, since they are often pressed for time.

Many email marketers are moving aggressively to launch share-to-social features, allowing people to easily post email content on Facebook or Twitter pages. And Peterson validated their efforts.

She said she appreciates emails (particularly from Express.com) that allow the easy posting of coupon offers to her Facebook wall to alert like-minded friends about the deals.

“My favorite thing is posting coupons on Facebook … and everybody’s always like thanks for posting coupons, we love it,” she said.

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