An open letter to a $28 billion telco who lost me as a subscriber

Melanie Wicks

The Craft of Copywriting

Dear Telstra,

I had to write.

You see, your SmarterBusiness™ newsletter popped into my inbox the other day. While ‘The Definitive Guide to Selling Online’, isn’t a world-beating headline, the word ‘definitive’ gets me every time, so I opened it.

And 2 minutes later I unsubscribed.

Here’s the thing. I’m just a humble freelance copywriter with a handful of loyal clients and a modest income, while you, Telstra… well you grossed over 28 billion Australian dollars last year.

I bet that pays for some serious muscle in your marketing department.

So you probably don’t need my advice on how you could improve your email marketing and keep your subscribers. But I’m going to give it to you anyway.

Here’s my 3 hot tips to instantly improve your emails. (You can have them for free. I roll like that).

Hot tip #1: Don’t bury the thing you promise in your headline

If your subject line is ‘The Definitive Guide to Selling Online’, I would expect the article to be front and centre when I open the email. But you buried it below the fold. It was the fifth link in the newsletter.

I’m a busy person, Telstra. Don’t make me work so hard.


Hot tip #2: If you’re going to give marketing advice, follow it

So, your lead article wasn’t as promised.

It was ‘E-commerce: Customers want a personalised experience.’

No kidding!

I am one of your customers. Yet there was not one skerrick of personalization in your email. Not one.

My name’s Mel, by the way.

Hot tip #3: Your opt-out message is just as important as your newsletter. Don’t blow it.

You made me work too hard to find the information you promised in your subject line. Then you didn’t live up to your own advice in your lead article.

So, I hit unsubscribe.

And guess what popped up next?

An opt-out message so excruciatingly bad it’s hard to count the ways.

But let’s give it a go:

  1. The subject line is about as exciting as my tax file number. I’m opting out, Telstra. This is your opportunity to entice me back… maybe with something warm and fuzzy like ‘We’re so sorry to see you go. Perhaps this might change your mind…’
  2. It gets worse. “PLEASE DO NOT REPLY.” Well, that’s friendly. I wasn’t actually intending to reply, but you’ve reaffirmed my decision to opt-out. Thank you.
  3. And just in case I didn’t get the message, you feel the need to repeat it: “Please do not reply directly to this e-mail as it has been sent from an unattended mailbox.” This is the online version of ‘Talk to the Hand’, or ‘Tell someone who cares’.
  4. “Dear Customer”. Is that your attempt at personalization?
  5. “We will process your request within 5 working days.” What the… !!! You are using email automation, Telstra. Opting out of an email list these days is automatic and instant. And if for a moment I believe you have some dusty old clerk sitting behind a computer, manually removing my name from your subscriber list, why on earth would you advertise the fact that it’s going to take him 5 whole days to get around to it?
  6. “Thank you for being with Telstra.” But I’m not. That’s the whole point. I just opted out!

Cheers, Mel.

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