Apple’s direct marketing reveals a rare area of failure

Apple has been a marketing phenomenon – producing iGadgets that consumers drool over. But on Friday I was gobsmacked at the sheer awfulness of its direct marketing. Apple Europe sent an email to me, as a past buyer of Apple kit, which declared that it heralded “The day you’ve waited 364 days for”. This claim was big letters, and so caught my attention.

What was Apple offering? A major new product? The coming of Christ? Free champagne and lobster?

Well, imagine my disappointment when I read the small print. The company was offering… wait for it… free delivery on purchases from its online store.

Maybe there were some weirdos waiting a whole year for that, but my advice to them would be to shop around, because there are discounts 24/7/365 on sites like eBuyer and Misco. They really don’t have to sync their Apple purchases with the day after Thanksgiving in the United States (a celebration that few Brits notice).

My advice to Apple would be to fire whoever writes such nonsense in its emails, and replace the text with a convincing argument. The hyperbole only leads to customers feeling that they are getting a bad deal.

And the truth is that Apple doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing with direct email marketing. I rarely read its messages, which are graphics intensive and therefore lose my interest before they have finished loading. What they ought to be sending out is personalised emails that refer to their customers’ needs. They’re a technology company, so this sort of thing is easy for them. And they have a pretty good idea about what kit I use: you have to register every computer with them. So they could easily write to me saying that it’s been two years since I bought their laptop and they’ve got something much faster and thinner and with better battery life (or whatever).

In fact, they could learn from their competitor Dell, which I recall sending me an email saying that my three-year warrantee was about to expire – would I like an extension? It appeared to be from a real person, send to me individually (although I suspect it was mail-mergered).

Maybe Apple’s drool factor is so great that it doesn’t have to worry about what its emails say. I suspect, though, that it’s throwing away sales.

Alex Singleton is a public relations trainer and consultant.

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