Thursday, January 07, 2010

An Open Letter To Vistaprint

I'm far from an expert on marketing and social media. But I am a consumer. And a damn fine one, since I've had decades of experience not only purchasing things, but deciding which things I like to purchase and basing my decision on a combination of factors -- my need or desire for a product or service, the quality and reliability, my satisfaction and my overall perception of a company.

So, in the interest of helping out a company that I want to keep liking, and perhaps help other companies considering doing the same sort of things, I post this open letter to the good people at Vistaprint.

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Dear VistaPrint Canada:

First of all, I want to tell you that I have found great value in your products and services. Several months ago, I spotted an online link to one of your online ads (I honestly can't remember where it was, most likely on some website for writers or perhaps even in a Google search result ad link) and checked out your "free business card" offer.

In a matter of minutes, I was able to create a pretty decent looking business card and order it. I opted for the $1 custom update to the free cards, allowing me to put my own website on the back of the card (because by default the free cards carry the vistaprint website url on it, which is pretty fine, especially for a free custom business card), and know I had to pay for shipping, which was a bit steep so must be part of where you actually make your money. But that's fine -- I recognize the need of a business to make money and the time saving and the cost were definitely worthwhile to me.

On my way to the checkout, I spotted an interesting "add on" option to have sticky notes created with a logo/look matching my cards. For a few extra dollars I ordered them, too. After that, the multi-repeated "would you like fries with that?" experience of checkout was a bit much -- ie, there were TOO MANY offers (it was more like: "Do you want fries? How about a larger coke? What about extra deluxe napkins? Or filtered water? Some ice cream? A hot dog? Or perhaps a muffin? A cookie? No, then what about this waiver thin mint?) -- but the experience was still manageable despite the "endless" nature of it.

A few weeks later, my 250 business cards and sticky notes arrived -- they were truly top quality products that I'm proud of. [An image of my business cards, sans my phone number and address appear below]

I know, based on my experience, that I WILL order custom stationery and business card products from you again. I have also already suggested you to several other writers that I know and believe they have also ordered from you. I realize that I'm doing both THEM and YOU a favour, and I'm happy to do so. Because as a consumer, if I have a good experience with a company or service, I LIKE telling others about it so that THEY can also benefit from the great value offered.

But here's where you not only continue to fail to impress me, but where you're making me reconsider doing business with you again.

Though I have already deleted most of them, I still have hundreds of emails in my inbox from your company telling me about great promotions or products. And I only started dealing with you the last week of August 2009. These emails are all virtually the same offer. Something cool for free or discounted significantly.

The thing is, I ALREADY know that you have great products for a great price. You don't need to repeatedly tell me. You don't need to preach to the choir here.

Second, every single extra spam email I get from you (and that's honestly what this excess of promotional emails feels like, even though I know I opted in when I bought something) makes me LESS and LESS likely to return business to you. Why? Because simply, they are annoying.

Again, don't get me wrong. Your company offers great services at a great value.

But you sincerely run the risk of pissing me off so much with a plethora of emails that aren't really telling me anything new such that I DON'T want to buy from you.

Really, when I see these emails I think of an annoying person yelling "look at me, look at me!" then pausing a few minutes and then screaming: "No, really, look over here -- look what I'm doing!" And then, when nobody looks, they start throwing things to try to get attention. The bottom line is the blatant annoying nature of the behaviour.

Please, for the love of the customers like me who are satisfied with your services and are planning on coming back, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, limit your promotional emails to one per month -- unless of course there is truly some COMPLETELY DIFFERENT or UNIQUE offer or limited promotion.

I honestly like your products and service, the price is right, the ease of use on your website is great, and the reliability is there too. Just please reconsider your "in your face" email promotions and rely on the customers you have satisfied to help spread the word. Otherwise, your over-the-top blanketing of web-blast emails (which remind me of the endless porn, Viagra and "increase your manhood size" type emails that fill my inbox daily) will likely serve to have a negative effect on returning customers and a negative effect on my desire to refer your business to others. I know they'll get value, but I don't want my friends to have to be subjected to such "spammy" behaviour.

And since I value your services, I really don't want to see that happen. I DO want to continue to like you.


A Satisfied Customer (who becomes a bit less satisfied with every additional excess email I receive from you)

UPDATE: Within hours of posting this, a representative at VistaPrint contacted me and helped me modify my account settings (which I wasn't aware of) to change the frequency of emails I received from them. Read this updated post entitled VistaPrint Making It Right for more details.

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