This morning I woke up to find the most surprising news from Shutterfly. 'I had just given birth to a new baby'!
Thankfully this was not the case - and by the way - I am not even remotely pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, and frankly hope never to be pregnant!
I got a good chuckle out of it and then I thought I would give my friends a nice morning laugh by posting this marketing snafu on my Facebook page.
Surprisingly dozens of women friends - single, married without kids, and married with kids - received the same surprise in their inbox this morning. And not just my friends were impacted - the twittersphere is all abuzz this morning with @shutterfly #fail tweets. I am wondering how they plan to recover and when they will react.
This is classic case of marketing automation gone painfully wrong. Somewhere in the system of entering copy, creating relevant segments, matching them with the right emails, and programming timely triggers, something went awry.
What surprised me most was the reactions of those who received it which ranged from mildly amused to anxious that someone hacked their account to potentially feeling left out (they must have at least used an age restriction as my 70+ mother-in-law did not receive the email). And I am sure given all the anxieties of getting pregnant, being pregnant, and giving birth to healthy babies, many more emotional chords were struck by this massive blunder.
I write about this not to embarrass Shutterfly but to remind myself and others of the power that marketers now have with these micro-segmentation tools and the focus and care we must have in using them.
Now, with self-service marketing automation platforms, oversight and proofing become increasingly important and challenging to balance with getting timely messages out.
Second, marketing automation tools can have a large brand impact if done incorrectly, so being thoughtful and nuanced about campaigns and how and when to craft them is critical to success.
Lastly, as the tools to track our every move become increasingly available to marketers, data integrity and matching data with message are critical. Also marketers must take it one step forward to understand what is the actual gain that will be achieved by leveraging personal data and do the benefits of that outweigh the risks of getting it wrong or offending those that want to maintain some modicum of privacy.
All in all I have a a lot of sympathy for whoever made this blunder. In this ever micro-segmented world that we are becoming, marketers have a tough task ahead to always be on point and get it right.
So what is ahead for Shutterfly? Well, first I hope they are able to quickly understand the impacted population and get an apology note out to them via email. It looks as though as of 10am EST this morning they have started to do that on twitter. How this will impact their future sales and ability to re-engage and build trust with their community will be revealed over time. It may take considerable time, care, dedication, and creativity to build back to a place where consumers will take them more seriously again.
How do you think they can recover from this gracefully? Share your thoughts in the comments below.