Home > Branding, Email campaigns, Facebook, Web marketing > Luxury Car Dealer Completely Messes up Email Campaign

Luxury Car Dealer Completely Messes up Email Campaign

spyker-c8-spyderIt’s a tale of wealth, a tale of power…and ignorance and laziness. This is the tale of the Spyker of Salt Lake City launch.

Before I get started, let me assure you all of what you are about to read is true. There has been no embellishment or hyperbole on my part.

The Spyker launch began with an email received at nearly 10 pm Friday, August 28th. First of all, I’m not sure why I’m receiving the email. Sure I bought a car from the dealership a year ago, but they normally mail me things, not email. I’m not even sure how they got my email. Secondly, who does a product launch at 10 pm on a Friday?

Anyway, I read the email and wondered what a Spyker was. I figured it was the same dealership that launched Bentley last year, so I thought it might be cool, but I didn’t know for sure. Eleven minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Another message from Adam Heller at Spyker. He had forgotten to send the attachment in the first email.


All hell didn’t break loose until Monday. That’s when the first of several messages asking to be removed from the mail list showed up in my inbox. So not only had Mr. Heller sent the email at a poor time and forgotten the attachment, he did a regular carbon copy to everyone on his list, thus divulging private emails to everybody who received the invitation.


Why did a partner at a major accounting firm choose to hit reply all when they asked to be removed? I don’t know. Then a few other requests for removal came across my inbox. That’s when I thought, “this will not end well.”

Then someone sent this gem to everyone on the list –

For those of you requesting to be removed- could you please do us all a favor and hit “reply”- not “reply all”- this is email 101…

Yes, yes it is.

Finally, someone wrote –

Hi Adam,
I’m also a spammer and would like to thank you for all the great new email addresses.

From one spammer to another, THANKS!!!!

At three pm on August 31, the issue was resolved –

Dear Nigel,
In reference to a recent email regarding the Spyker Lifestyle event in Park City, we made a significant oversight on our part to not Blind Copy the invitation list. We sincerely apologize for the mistake and want to assure those people who have asked to be removed from our list are in fact, removed immediately. We ask that you help in resolution of this matter that you do not “reply to all” on the previous email.
The inconvenience this may have caused was unintended wholeheartedly.
Hadley Auto Company
As I write this, I realize the sender was Adam Heller’s email and he changed his sent from name to “Hadly” auto…spelled incorrectly.

I don’t know how this event turned out. I planned to go, but for some reason the date of the event slipped my mind. It turns out it was September 4th and 5th…the beginning of college football season this year. The Bentley event I attended last fall was sparsely attended, but I sure do see a lot of new Bentley’s around town. That event was well executed and conducted by regular mail.

What can we learn from this whole fiasco?

Email campaigns can be very dangerous if they’re not executed properly. You need to think strategically about an email campaign before you launch it. Not only can you anger customers, but you can break Federal law. I’ve said before I think email marketing is dead, but assuming that’s how you want to proceed, let’s talk about some best practices.

Timing – Did you notice that nobody emailed to complain until Monday…a full 48 hours after the email was sent? That’s because this list was full of professionals who could possibly afford a niche luxury sports car. Many had supplied a work email and thus didn’t respond until Monday. I’ve found after running three different newsletter campaigns the best time to send is early in the morning and between Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday’s people are just getting back to work and on Friday’s they’re thinking about the weekend.

The timing of the event itself was poor in my opinion, but I can’t really speak to the results since I didn’t attend. What was I doing instead? Watching college football. In the United States, never, ever schedule a business event on the opening weekend of college football.

Delivery system – Using a delivery system instead of an email program like Outlook has many advantages. First of all, you can manage your lists. Sophisticated email marketers will send different messages to different people while using the same system. List management helps with new subscriptions and removals, making what we saw earlier completely unnecessary. A list management system also insures delivery. Companies have complex spam blocking procedures in place. Do you want your subscribers to receive your email? List management servers are white listed so your message will get through. You can also get useful statistics from a delivery system like open rates, forwards and unsubscribes. While they will cost you a little bit of money, they’re very reasonable.

In the past I used AWeber for a subscription base of about 15,000 and Constant Contact for a list of about 300…similar to the size of the Spyker list. Many CRM software packages have an email component as well.

Opting in should be easy, so should opting out – No matter what kind of delivery system you use, the sign in/sign out process should be easy. It should typically be a double opt in and a single opt out. One thing Spyker got right was assuring those who wanted out got an easy exit.

Protect your client’s data at all costs – These were just email addresses, not social security numbers or bank accounts. The couple email addresses I plugged into Google as a test yielded full names, occupations and even educational history. If I was nefarious, I could dig up quite a bit on these people, just with their email address as a foundation.

Apologize for your mistakes – This was another thing Spyker of Salt Lake City did do right. They apologized for the inconvenience, the breach of security and removed those people from the list who wanted to be removed. If done properly, they wouldn’t have had anything to apologize for, but it seems to have resolved the problem.

Are there better options to email marketing? – I think so. I believe smart marketers are converting their email lists to something else like a Facebook business page or fan page. People who join these pages are going to be much more enthusiastic to hear messages from you and you’ll be able to ping them more often. A luxury car sale for instance is not a one pitch close. You have to engage your client multiple times to get them to consider shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a car they don’t need…no matter how much they may want it. I believe business pages will eventually become great customer service tools as well.

If you do stick with email, plan on sending out the message several times. I might have attended the event had I been reminded when it was. As it happened the whole mailing list screw up frazzled everyone involved.

So what can we learn from this luxury car dealer about email campaigns?

1. Time your delivery.
2. Don’t use an email client with a CC list, use professional software.
3. Do protect your client’s data.
4. Do apologize if you make a mistake.

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    July 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

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