Intelligently use the data you’ve already got
If I’d gotten emails like “Dont miss 50 Ft Wave”, “Don’t miss Sloan,” or “Don’t miss Rogue Wave,” I wouldn’t have been pleased — because I didn’t choose to recieve alerts. But my displeasure would have been reduced, because the events would have been of interest to me. I might not have been so quick to try to unsubscribe.
How many people who buy tickets for events at TT’s also buy tickets for the Backstreet Boys? I’m guessing it’s a vanishingly small percentage. My interest in a TT’s ticket should have branded me as a poor candidate for the “Most popular events” list and a likely candidate for the “Off-the-beaten track” list.
This is not rocket science programming — it’s just making some intelligent use of the data collected in processing transactions.
Simplify your links
As it was, I was pretty ticked off. So I immediately looked for instructions on how to unsubscribe. This proved easier said than done.
I don’t read most of my email in a web browser window, or with a tool that has any direct connection to a web browser. That may strike you as backward, but I think it’s actually the reverse. It protects me from phishing scams, virus attacks, browser hijacks and from viewing offensive images. The downside is that if I want to follow a URL from an email, I have to cut and paste it. I can usually live with that.
TicketMaster’s emails were delivered in both text and HTML format. Both contained an unsubscribe URL in a very obscure and difficult-to-use format. Somewhat to my surprise, the two URLs were different. The text version URL was 243 characters long (about 3 1/2 lines) — way too much to fit in a browser address bar. The HTML version was nearly twice as long — 459 characters, (more than 6 lines).
There are two problems with this:
- First, that’s a lot of cutting and pasting. It’s very easy to make a mistake during that process.
- More seriously, long obscure URLs are bad news for everybody, not just luddites like me. They remove your ability to tell what’s going to happen when you click a link. Phoney emails pretending to be from banks and merchants are common, and they use a number of tricks to hide the actual destination of a link. The obscurity and length of the TicketMaster links not only make them difficult to use, they make it hard to determine the legitimacy of the links and the risks associated with following them.
TicketMaster: Simplify your links. Don’t encrypt the URL. Don’t put personal information in the URL so it needs to be encrypted. Rewriting URLs is easy, even summervillain.com uses it. Here’s what should happen: I should click a link that looks a lot like this.
If you’ve already set a cookie with my email address, it should autofill into a blank, then I click a “Confirm” button, and I’m done.
(After I logged in, I was redirected to a secure (https://) URL that was somewhat more reasonable:
https://www.ticketmaster.com/member/unsubscribe?email_address=. . .
But that’s too little, too late. I still couldn’t tell that the link I was following was safe before I made the decision to follow it. And it still has personal information in the URL (bad) and it required me to open a secure session. I shouldn’t need to do that simply to unsubscribe.)