Monday, December 19, 2011

Amazon and Permission Marketing

I got an e-mail from Amazon today asking me to rate my experience with one of their sellers.  I'm usually happy to give my feedback, but there are a few things that serve to dissuade me from doing feedback for a vendor or anyone else.   Foremost of my peeves are sellers that ask for "a minute" and then proceed to ask a myriad of questions on every aspect of the exchange all the while never telling you how many questions are left, and using a vague clock or status bar to show your progress.  I'm sure these retailers are questioning why there are so many abandoned questionnaires.  "If only they'd finish all 243 questions, we'd have the answer to everything."

Asking a few pointed questions and getting good answers on a few questions is better than bad data on many questions.  Amazon does it right in this instance.  They ask 3 questions, a rating and a comment.

What Amazon fails here at is requiring the comment which appears to be a public proclamation about the seller.  It moves from How did the seller do?  to Tell others about them."

I'm happy to give you feedback on your product, service, transactions and the like (I'm rarely short of an opinion).   However, requiring me to "tell others" in order to do that is inappropriate.  Amazon would not allow me to submit my response as is because the text field is blank.  I was tempted to make snarky comments about the inappropriateness of requiring the field, but it's not really the seller's fault.

How many people feel compelled to complete that box?  "What?  I can't submit my three responses until I give some feedback on that field?  Okay then."

What consumers need to remember is that we're part of that transaction too.  Seth Godin wrote about Permission Marketing and how it's about engagement with consumers and getting permission to market to them.   The flip side of that coin is us, as consumers, giving permission.  When a business or on line retailer doesn't ask permission, don't give it.  If they interrupt by spamming you, subscribe you to a newsletter without your permission, sell your information or try to force you to give a response when its you doing the favor, walk away.

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