I love that more and more companies are leveraging email automation — setting up email campaigns, triggered by an action (or a non-action) that deliver highly relevant messages to customers and prospects.

I’ve developed strategies for and helped implement numerous automated email marketing strategies for a lot of different clients, so I understand most of the pitfalls companies face.

But it’s still a bummer when I get an email from a brand I love that hasn’t overcome the (easily addressed) challenges, like the one that landed in my inbox this morning from Marriott…

I received this email (at left) while I was working out… in the exercise room… at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Clearwater….

So no, Marriott, I don’t still need a room here. I booked one last month. And I checked in last night.

Now, I get it. I understand how things like this happen. This email is probably driven off my browse behavior, which is tracked by Marriott’s web analytics system. The web analytics system may not be integrated with Marriott’s reservation system. I get it.

But it still makes me sad. Even if the integration isn’t there, there are not-too-difficult ‘MacGyver’ ways to make this suppression happen.

Also…

I would be more understanding of this faux pas if I had booked the hotel on a third-party site, like Expedia. But I didn’t — I booked it on Marriott.com.

I could understand this if I booked the room without my rewards number, aka Marriott’s unique identifier for me. But the rewards number is in the reservation and has been there from the beginning.

And I might understand if I booked this hotel room using a different email address, another unique identifier for me. But I didn’t. In fact, I’ve received at least 2 other emails, confirming my reservation and inviting me to plan my stay here, from Marriott at this same email address.

Finally, I might understand the confusion if my dates had changed — but they’ve been consistent since the beginning, since this stay is for a specific event with a set date.

Which leads me to one more thought: since this stay was always slated to begin yesterday, does it make sense to send this email to me today?

Even if I hadn’t already booked this hotel for this trip, is the timing of this email logical? Wouldn’t it make more sense to send this in advance of the check-in date I had been looking at, not after it had passed?

I booked this hotel room more than a month ago, so I must have been browsing before that. If I were Marriott, I would test sending this ‘browse reminder’ email earlier, say within 10 days to 2 weeks after the browse behavior occurred, to see if that would boost conversions.

Oh, and I would run a suppression to make sure that the recipient hadn’t booked the hotel mentioned in the interim.

So here’s your take-away — now is a good time to review your automated email marketing programs and confirm that you are suppressing people who have already taken the action you’re advocating. If you’re up to your eyeballs in holiday 2017 marketing, by all means wait until early 2018. But don’t put this off indefinitely.

As more and more companies use marketing automation, the bar on oversights like these gets higher. A few years ago, this was an understandable mistake. But today it looks sloppy and it’s surprising for a brand that does so much else right in its email marketing.

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