I admit it: I’m a control freak. Particularly when it comes to sharing personal information with direct marketers. Unless I opt-in, I don’t like being spammed, online or otherwise. So when recently flagged with a new email from H&R Block, I initially went straight for the delete button.

But then I remembered: On April 14, I had visited a local H&R Block office for help filing my tax return (I’m also a procrastinator). Upon completing my filing, the preparer asked whether I’d be interested in receiving H&R Block emails. Yes, I said, that’d be fine. Remembering that, I stopped short of deleting the message. After all, I thought, I asked for this.

It was an inquiry as to whether I’d be willing to complete an online customer satisfaction survey–in exchange for a $5 Amazon.com gift certificate. The proposition impressed me on several levels. First, this was an email from H&R Block, an established, credible company.
Check out this smart video on email marketing:

Secondly, I was struck by the value of the incentive: Regardless of its current financial health, Amazon.com has established its brand in consumers’ minds. As a consumer, I recognized and embraced Amazon as a purveyor of high-quality products. Finally, the email was not spam, but merely the follow through of a company that had already asked me if I’d accept such a mailing.

I decided to complete the survey–it took a minute. Ten minutes later, I received my emailed gift certificate. Simple and easy, it was a stellar example of effective email marketing. And it will benefit all involved: H&R Block will get customer feedback, Amazon.com will get my business, and I’ll get a book.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just good, old-fashioned, direct marketing principles applied to a new medium. Sure, in theory, email marketing makes sense and numerous reports and analysis back that theory. But sometimes you’ve got to experience it to believe it. Especially if you’re a control freak.

I Have Issues With ClickBank

Yesterday, I came home to find a check sitting on the floor beneath my mail slot. Despite the fact that it said “ClickBank” on the envelope, my work worn mind thought it said Commission Junction.

Now, I haven’t checked either account in quite a while as neither has been performing for me. Opening the envelope to find a check that was worth more than my CJ payout level, but less than my CB level continued to mess with my mind.

Once I realized that it was CB, I was livid. I had nearly twice the amount in my CB account than the check was made out for.

I checked my CB account, and sure enough, they’d deducted over $10 in fees. I knew that they’d been deducting $1 a month since I hadn’t met the requirements for pay out, and they justified a little over $3 in excess charges which is mentioned in their payment terms. But there’s an additional $7.50 which has no explanation.

Granted, I’m glad that they released what was left in my account, since I haven’t had purchases from 5 different cards yet (seriously, their terms are whacked, and I wouldn’t use them at all if it weren’t for a very lucrative program that affiliates through them), and I can even deal with them deducting nearly half of my money when they spell out why.

But that last $7.50? I really want to know why that was taken out. That one just burns my buns. I don’t do affiliate marketing for a living, but I still need my money. If I didn’t, would I really be marketing? Well, maybe, since I actually enjoy the creation process of these websites, but I certainly wouldn’t devote as much time to it as I do.