I’m not a ballerina, so stop asking me to pivot…

This ridiculous email arrived in my inbox this morning from Dropbox – the highly successful digital equivalent of the storage sheds you rent to store your excess junk.

The sender is <no-reply@dropbox.com> – this is a cardinal sin when sending emails for marketing purposes. If you are communicating personally and directly to an individual, then you need to identify yourself and give the recipient an option to reply. It also creates distrust for the sender’s brand.

In email marketing the rule of thumb is simple: The “From Line” gets your email opened, while the “Subject Line” gets your email deleted.

Your recipients ask themselves “do I know the sender?” If they do they look to the Subject Line to see if the message is relevant and worth opening. If the Subject Line is relevant and persuasive, they will open the message. If they don’t know who is sending the message, or if the Subject Line is irrelevant, they delete without a second thought.

The Subject Line from <no-reply@dropbox.com> reads “are you ready to pivot?“. This message is wrong in so many ways.

Firstly, a headline should never ask a question where the answer can be yes/no – because so many of the recipients will answer “no” and delete your message without further thought. If you are going to ask a question, ask a rhetorical question – just as any good salesperson would when selling face-to-face.

Secondly, I’m not a ballerina. Why do I want to pivot? This is one of those buzzwords created by the cyber-hustlers who use a jargoniser to create fake words/meanings to try and position themselves as having some special secret sauce for marketing success.

Here is the Websters Dictionary definition of pivot:

When someone uses the word “pivot” in a business context, what they mean is you should continue to do what businesses have done since the invention of business. Adjust and refine your business according to market conditions. This is not new – it is common sense. Businesses have always created new products/services to grow their businesses, otherwise they don’t stay in business.

There is no need for a jargoniser to create a new word for an existing business practice. Here is an example of an extraordinary business response by a pie purveyor to the current pandemic. He didn’t need a buzzword to act.

But back to the email from <no-reply@dropbox.com>. I opened it to see what to do if I was ready to pivot.

The headline is a glib generalisation about the bleeding obvious: “The best teams know how to work together, does yours?” What business continues in business if its staff don’t cooperate? Why assume my team may not be working together?

Then this gem is offered: “With the right mindset — and the right tools — any team can thrive in this new digital world

Am not sure how a team has a mindset, but I thought in any world, individuals with the right mindset and right tools would thrive. After all, who would try to thrive with the wrong mindset and wrong tools?

Now I’ve only been working in digital marketing since 1995 (it’s 26 years this year since I ran my first online marketing seminar). At what stage does this “new digital world” stop becoming new?

And why would I believe a digital storage shed could help me? By the way, the response button “Explore Dropbox Plans” is a link to the fees charged by Dropbox to store stuff. There is no “reason why” I should use Dropbox – What’s In It For Me?

Given I am already a customer, there is nothing to explain why I should consider upgrading or changing my contract with Dropbox.

Sadly, these types of emails invade inboxes daily – usually written by a digital or content marketer who has typing skills, not copywriting skills, because hey “everyone can write” right?

In case you’re wondering, there was no signature file in the message, but given the email came from <no-reply@dropbox.com> that’s not really surprising.

Even more frustrating is the fact that email marketing has been around for more than two decades, yet these fundamental errors continue to be made. There really is no excuse for such amateurism, particularly from a successful organisation like Dropbox.

Gotta go now. I have to see my chiropractor after I injured myself practicing my office pivots…



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