Should marketing fine print be aggressive?

In a recent offer from Origin Energy for its Smart Metering program there was a consent to terms and conditions to move forward with the offer.

If you read the terms and conditions you would have found the following paragraph:

We are committed to providing a complete energy service, so we may present you with gas, electricity and other household or business service offers in the future. If at any time you do not wish us to use, or enable our privacy compliant agents and contractors to use, your information for this purpose or any of the purposes outlined in this privacy statement, please call us on 13 24 62 or write to Origin Opt Out, Reply Paid 1199, GPO Box 1199, Adelaide, SA, 5001. We will continue to provide you with these offers until you advise us otherwise.

Of course the idea that we the consumers would want to have to call or write a snail mail request to stop receiving marketing material is ludicrous.

The fact that there was no way to consent to the offer on metering without accepting these unreasonable marketing terms and conditions is just wrong. Businesses must remember that clients are not a captive target audience who should be subjected to volumes of unrequested marketing collateral with no off switch.

Customers are the people that pay the bills and the salaries of their staff. In this case adding an email based unsubscribe option would have been a reasonable approach but offering an opt-out right from the start would have been ideal.

By offering clients choice there is less chance of being offensive. Today there are marketing systems that allow dynamic content that means a company can write several sections for each marketing mail-out but the recipient only receives the sections for which they have nominated an interest. In this way the received message becomes more valuable and is better appreciated.

I hope that 2013 is a year that offers a gentler approach to email based marketing where companies work on building client relationships through added value rather than bombarding us with noise and weekly specials on things we really don’t want to be distracted by.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.


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