Is Lying the New Marketing Normal?

There are plenty of studies that emphasize the importance of the subject line. And, with many email clients providing a snippet of the first paragraph of the email in a preview panel, somewhere a marketer decided it was okay to lie in order to garner your attention.

email“I noticed you didn’t complete your registration.”

“As I mentioned in my phone call to you…”

“You had asked me to follow up…”

These are just three of the opening lines used in emails to me lately, and while they may have been designed to be the second step in a contact strategy, the reality is: I have never had any contact with these organizations.

And, since I’ve noticed these techniques repeatedly, I have to believe they are deliberately designed to “trick” me into believing I was part of some previous interaction. But is that the right way to try and start a relationship that will lead to a sale?

With our in-boxes clogged with an increasing number of unsolicited emails (the Radicati Group claims the average office worker receives 121 emails a day), and 49.7 percent of that is considered spam, recipients are making a decision in 8 seconds as to whether or not your email is worthy of a longer look.

There are plenty of studies that emphasize the importance of the subject line. And, with many email clients providing a snippet of the first paragraph of the email in a preview panel, somewhere a marketer decided it was okay to lie in order to garner your attention.

Deceptive selling practices are certainly not a new idea. In his 1985 book “Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage,” author Dr. Paul Ekman writes, “There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. In falsifying, the liar takes an additional step. Not only does the liar withhold true information, but he presents false information as if it were true.”

In marketing, lying usually means manipulation and — let’s face it — advertising doesn’t exactly maintain a reputation for honesty. Who can forget Skechers and Kim Kardashian who teamed up to claim that by simply putting on a pair of their shoes you’d magically get buns of steel? The FTC didn’t buy it, and they ended up paying a $40 million settlement.

Classmates.com lied in their email when they told prospects that an old friend was trying to contact them. It cost them a $9.5 million class-action lawsuit.

So what does a lie achieve?

For starters, it completely disintegrated the credibility of DM News as they used one of the tactics I noted at the start of this blog in a recent email to me. As one of my industry go-to resources, they should know better.