When does 'branding' cross the line and become annoying? Here's when...
I've been a fan, and customer, of GOT Corporation (formerly GotMarketing) and their Campaigner self-serve email marketing system for many years. I've also set up a number of my smaller clients with their own Campaigner accounts so they can manage their own email newsletters.
The last time I set up a new client with a Campaigner account I made a shocking discovery.
In the good old days, Campaigner users had the option of toggling on or off a "Get GOT" logo and link in the footer of every email they sent using the system. If you felt like promoting the fact you use Campaigner, you could include the GOT Corporation branding at the bottom of your emails. If you didn't feel like giving GOT free advertising, you could choose to omit this footer.
Today, if you sign up for a new Campaigner account of less than USD $150 a month, you have no choice whether or not your emails get the "Get GOT" branding on them. The only way you can remove this free advertising is to pay an additional USD $250 service charge, and you have to contact an account manager at GOT to find this out.
I think GOT has this completely ass-backward. Why should I, as a paying customer, have to pay GOT an additional fee to stop involuntarily shilling for them? If anything, GOT should be paying its customers a fee for all the free advertising it is getting, or at least giving its customers an affiliate commission on any sales they generate.
Imagine if this obnoxious 'branding' strategy was applied to other similar services, like your phone, so that every time you called someone the person on the other end would be forced to hear "this phone call powered by Bell."
Of course, GOT did not invent this annoying practice, although they are apparently well on their way to perfecting it. Many other email service providers, as well as other online marketing Application Service Providers, have gone 'branding' berserk, although multiple wrongs do not make a right.
Mark my words, a major selling point and differentiator for email service providers (even at the low-end of the market) will be their willingness to let their customers choose whether or not they want to feature the service provider's branding in their emails.
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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