Enterprise: Great Intent, Poor Execution

I rented a car from Enterprise for the May 2008 Email Insider Summit on Captiva Island in Florida. Enterprise has been my vendor of choice for the past 5 years because of their incredible customer service and comparable prices. As far as I’m concerned they are ozone layers above the rest.

However, as an email marketing account manager at Bronto Software for the past 3 years, I’ve evolved into a consumer with a critical eye toward marketing—email marketing specifically. I think about email all the time and am always fascinated on how companies communicate and execute on their email marketing campaigns. Enterprise was now on the clock. So…sit back, buckle up, and read on to learn more about my Enterprise email experience.

Half asleep due to boredom, I muddled through the normal car rental stuff—license, car model/size, etc. Then, after I signed away my life (and declined the optional insurance) the Enterprise guy asked me for my email address. Suddenly, he had my full attention. Of course, I asked why he needed my email and what he would use if for. Very politely, Mr. Enterprise informed me that they send out occasional updates on Enterprise specials. Sign me up!

I was immediately impressed that not only did he overtly ask for my permission, the salesman also began to set some expectations (frequency). It would have been hard to set content expectations in that particular venue, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

When I arrived at my bed & breakfast on Captiva Island and found a wireless connection, I checked my Gmail for the Enterprise welcome message. D’oh. Strike one. No email from Mr. Enterprise. Good thing my expectations for welcome messages were pretty low. A recent study by Return Path showed the dismal results on welcome messages (60% of companies surveyed didn’t bother to send one!).

The good news? The very next day, Enterprise sent me a confirmation email. Yay! The from name was “Enterprise Plus” (okay) and the subject line read “Activate your Enterprise Plus membership” (love)—clear and to the point. The message with images off was not so great, but that’s a post for another day. Images on was pretty good, not great, but at least it gave me a few opportunities to activate my account. Not bad, Enterprise. My faith in their email marketing program was returning.

I figured I’d put them to the test…see what happened if I did *not* confirm by clicking “Activate Now.” So I opened the email, but didn’t confirm. In fact, I didn’t even click on a link. Lo and behold, one week to the day later, Enterprise sent me another email. I know what you are thinking (and what I was hoping): A reminder to confirm my interest in their email marketing campaign. Nope. This one came from “Enterprise-Rent-A-Car” (makes sense) and the subject read “David, speed your way to savings from Enterprise” (okay), but the content (Enterprise Regular Email.jpg) had nothing to do with activating my account. It was just the normal Enterprise email. Actually, the call to action offered me at 15% discount on NASCAR.COM Superstore. Okay, I’ll admit, I am going into year #2 in a Fantasy Nascar league, but come on Enterprise! You didn’t really know that. Then…on June 10th, another Enterprise email. It was the exact same email – same subject line, same copy, same offer (Nascar.com), with a different From Name (Enterprise Plus). In case you forget, at this point, I have still not confirmed my opt-in.

1. In order to grow your email marketing list, take advantage of all opportunities to ask future and current customers: Enterprise nailed this one.
2. Send a Welcome Message immediately (set proper expectations around content and frequency). Enterprise bombed this one.
3. If you are going to send a confirmation email, make sure you receive an opt-in BEFORE sending more email. Enterprise was so close, but missed it.

—DJ Waldow of Bronto Software

*Earlier this week, Enterprise sent me a reminder email about my reservation for my Connecticut trip. Hmmm.