And yes, also New York Times can make some (big) mistakes

As some of you may probably know, I am an early subscriber of the New York Times‘s, digital edition.
I am writing this blog post because something funny involving marketing campaign tools and emails, and of course, confused customers happened yesterday.

To contextualize a bit, the main players in this small quite big slip were: a NYT employee, a marketing automation solution (if I am right it should be the one provided by NextMark and operated by Epsilon Data Management) and just a bit over 8,000,000 NYT digital edition subscribers.

The facts

Yesterday evening I was happily reading some ebooks when I received the following email:

I was really really puzzled at first, I mean, an email like this usually stands for: “We have warned that you credit card had a rejected payment and you missed to correct the situation”, or most likely a simple drop-out confirmation.

But since I didn’t quite yet bought the latest techno gadget of the upcoming spring have money on my account, nor I have dropped-out, it was clearly a mistake/error by someone at NYT or at the Digital Marketing company running the campaigns for NYT (working with similar tools and in a similar context it’s easy notice/understand these slips).

A couple of minutes later in fact me (and other 8 million people) received this other message:

The embarrassment

This thing was so huge that flew on arstechnica’s pages today and succeeded to trend on twitter for a couple of minutes.

This is a great reminder how Digital Marketing is not a joke, millions of people are connected nowadays and a mistake like this can cost huge deals of money (and some subscriber as well. A targeting population error like this is quite unexplainable, how can you not notice 8,000,000 instead of 300?

You might also be quite entertained to know how NYT reacted to the problem, and this tweet sums pretty much it.

So after first calling the email “spam” and hack, and after finger-pointing others, as well as the MSP company Epsilon, in the end it came out that the sender of NYT subcription email was indeed a Times employee. This was confirmed by other employees on twitter.

Quite embarrassing, frankly.


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