Note: I am testing something. Please ignore this page.
This post has been brewing for sometime but it appears I waited too long to be the first. The Huffington Post wrote about this issue and linked to the Consumerist story of the same kind. I would like to give a first hand user’s point of view. I am hoping we can all learn something about email marketing, customer service, social media, and the impact of a bad idea on all of those.
First, I want you to see the actual email I was sent. (No, you are not allowed to know my username on there. :P) I also learned not to forward this email as my login information is embedded in the email (not great). A coworker had access to my account very quickly, and he was nice enough not to poke around my profile. Oops.
Please note that this email was not sent to everyone. I confirmed it with my roommate and her single mother. My roommate said “Oh yeah, I got that a month after joining.” (Yes, I lovingly hate how pretty she is). And her mom had never seen it before. Nor does this just show after a period of inactivity. I went active/inactive/active/inactive plenty of times in my four year membership and only got this email once.
This might have been a ploy to get attention but it seems to be turning on them.
Email Breakdown and Rewrites
The first thought was “Really? Awww, thanks.” I mean when someone calls you pretty, beautiful, attractive, handsome, etc. you say “Thank you.” It is awesome to think that the online dating service is complimenting you by saying that other’s actions mean they think you are attractive. Who doesn’t want to hear that? The mistake was not in the compliment of a better performing account, but in the resulting actions and comments.
Here is how they might have changed a few key points in the email.
The scales recently tipped in your favor.
My Reaction: Just recently? So was I ugly before. Thanks guys.
Better Copy: Did you change your hair? We’ve noticed an increase in positive reactions to your profile and wanted to let you know that whatever you are doing, it is working!
Why: We all know people that might not have changed their apperance, but just generally feel better and so they almost glow. Let them know that there is an increase, but don’t compare them to others on the site. Dating is a personal thing and it should not be seen as a competition.
You will now see more attractive people in your match results … the people we recommend will be more attractive … Also! You’ll be shown to more attractive people in their match results.
My Reaction: So I was being shown the dogs before? Thanks again.
Better Copy: Just leave this out.
Why: Just like Google doesn’t let sites know when they are increasing in rank, OKCupid should not mention this, if it is even true. This has more negative connotations than positive ones. With the dating pool changing constantly, it leaves some wondering when they might leave the now “infamous” Top 50%.
And, no, we didn’t just send this email to everyone on OkCupid. Go ask an ugly friend and see.
My Reaction: This was the last straw. You don’t really WANT to ask others if they got this email, because what if they didn’t? Thinking about it, I was “ugly” for 4 years.
Better Copy: We don’t send this to everyone, we just wanted to let you know that your glow is shining through. Now go email that [guy/girl] you’ve been eying the past few weeks. Now is the time!
Why: This has a call to action, reinforces their confidence boost, and pushes them to visit the site and message someone new. It leaves the user empowered and feeling good about using the site.
Possible Full Revision
Did you change your hair? We’ve noticed an increase in positive reactions to your profile and wanted to let you know that whatever you are doing, it is working! That glow or je ne sais quoi.
How can we say this with confidence? We’ve tracked click-thrus on your photo and analyzed other people’s reactions to you in QuickMatch and Quiver.
Suddenly, the world is your oyster.We don’t send this to everyone, we just wanted to let you know that your glow is shining through. Now go email that [guy/girl] you’ve been eying the past few weeks. Now is the time!
Testing is Imperative
In my opinion, this email should never have been sent. Had this copy been tested in focus groups, or even throughout the company, I think at least a handful of people would have reacted just like the online world is now.
Always test any communication internally at least.
Don’t Segment on Relative Measures or Generalizations
You can and should change your message based on who you are talking to at the time. Segmenting based on perceived attractiveness and then publicly telling people you are doing so is not smart. Not all Mustang lovers are male. And beauty is in the eye of beholder, not in the click through rate of a profile.
Repeat After Me: I Will Not Mock My User’s Friends
There is little way to sugar coat this. Never reference your user’s social circle in any negative light. In social media, their friends are the ones you are trying to influence through the user. Any communication with a user is social media based because anything can and will be shared socially between friends. Always keep that in mind with every communication sent out from your company to the world.
Bonus: Geek Overload
We’ve tracked click-thrus on your photo and analyzed other people’s reactions to you in QuickMatch and Quiver.
This statement brings out the geek in me. I want to know:
- What is the algorithm like?
- What happens when someone more attractive joins in 2 hours?
- What happens when someone pauses their accounts versus deleting them? Are they included in this 50%?
- Do people get an email every time the enter or exit the 50%?
Just curious now …