JD Wetherspoon and the death of the email database

2017-08-08 7:08

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Since the advent of digital marketing one of the key objectives has been to “build an email list”. This is because a database of customers and prospects has been thought to be a highly valuable asset for the business. So, the marketing world was thrown in to disarray when the UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon deleted its email database of 750,000+ names…deliberately.

It sent out one last email saying, “we won’t be emailing you anymore and we have deleted your details”.

The most pivotal thing the email said was, “from now on you can contact us and find out about events and news here”. And it pointed people at the Wetherspoons Facebook page and Twitter profile.

Does this herald the end of one epoch and the beginning of a new one?

At Digital Leadership Associates, we think that it probably does. A forward-looking company such as Wetherspoons would not make such a decision lightly would they? They had spent a decade growing a list of nearly one million names and email addresses but with market changes and the advent of recent privacy legislation they arrived at the conclusion that they would be able to do so little now with the list that there was no point in maintaining it.

So, what does this mean for the rest of us?

We think that many more companies will arrive at this conclusion over the next few months and years. Legislation aside, at the heart of it we all find emails (whether unsolicited or not) a bit of an intrusion in our daily lives. Like the five second ads playing at the start of your YouTube videos. They are something to be avoided at all costs, something to be skirted around, something to be ignored.

It’s no wonder that Wetherspoons has decided to cut their losses and run. What is more interesting though, and more indicative of a forward-looking company, is that they’re placing all of their money on 13 RED (or in this case, social media). But is this a gamble? At Digital Leadership Associates we think not. The growth of social media (21% in the last 12 months alone) and people spending more and more of their lives (and thoughts) in the virtual worlds of social media platforms means that social media is not a thing of the future, but of urgent importance now.

What surprises us is that it has taken until 2017 for an organisation to make such a positive and public statement of their intent to use social media as the primary comms channel.

So, given that a leviathan of a company like that can be agile enough to not just use social but to “convert to social” isn’t it about time that you did the same?

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

 

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