For the rest of us? Well… sorry Bono.
The fact that many people reacted angrily to their iTunes accounts automatically downloading this new album, while at times producing unwarranted claims of NSA-style privacy infringement, shows that Apple’s recent marketing strategy may have been a little too pushy. A simple Google search of “Apple U2” will bring up a link to Apple’s dedicated webpage for the album, only to be (embarrassingly) accompanied by critical opinion pieces and ‘how-to’ walkthroughs for removing the LP from your iTunes account, should you wish.
When Apple announced a one-click tool to remove the U2 album, the news of its release was covered by BBC, Sky News, CNN and other major news sites. This showed just how strong many people felt about the automatic download. In short, Apple messed up.
As businesses interact more with digital marketing and promotions, however, the recent actions of the tech giants are able to provide food for thought. While many online ventures can only dream of having such an enormous customer base, it still shows that the customer, no matter how loyal, is not to be taken for granted.
Still, for those of us who can’t give away free music yet (we’re still waiting for Beyoncé to return our calls…) we can still be careful with the marketing tools that businesses have at their disposal.
If you have an app developed for your business, be careful of the amount of push notifications your customer may be receiving. A survey, conducted by Appiterate last year, which showed that an alarming 71% of those surveyed uninstalled apps because of annoying push notifications.With that concern in mind, you may well ask yourself a valid question: How do I keep my customers updated, without going too far? Creativity and innovation may be your answer.
Recently, the Huffington Post’s UK Politics section launched an opt-in news update service, using the messaging app WhatsApp to deliver no more than two news stories per day. This allowed readers to feel connected with a direct and (somewhat) personalised service, without feeling overwhelmed or overloaded with information that may not be of interest. This is more than what can be said for social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, which can get mixed up in your newsfeed with updates of new cat/baby/holiday photos from your friends and loved ones.
From a digital marketing perspective, the idea of using a pre-existing, free messaging service to bring traffic to your site, is a brilliant move. Similar campaigns can easily be adapted and implemented for smaller ventures, and unlike regular SMS/MMS charges, such online messages transcend national borders. Don’t be surprised if this becomes something of a marketing trend over the next while.
If you do manage do annoy your customers with a flawed marketing strategy, whether digital or otherwise, there is still cause to learn from Apple’s recent stumble. When initially reacting to the negative criticism last month, Bono wrote on the U2 website:
“for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way… the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail.”
Granted, this isn’t an official reaction from the company, but rather their partners in this campaign. Apple were relatively quick to provide a solution to the problem of customers having an unwanted product, but statements like the one above, which is arguably passive-aggressive, isn’t going to help. A tone of understanding and, if possible, humility, needs to be taken to calm down an aggravated customer base. Similarly, business partners need to be on the same page for PR if their plan goes awry. It should be noted, however, that more recently, Bono decided to make a video apologising for the campaign move, which is a fairly positive move towards damage control.
Of course, a safer option for businesses and their digital marketeers should be kept in mind: If you’ve got a free gift for customers, let them know about it in the best way possible, but don’t force it into their hands. They may quickly decide to throw it into the bin, along with their relationship with you.