The Irony of a Great Response

We didn’t need Big Data to gauge the impact of a recent e-mail blast. In the first few minutes after going live, we had clients around the globe reaching out to us. We had a bunch of prospects call, email and text in response to the message – many of them were contacts we had given up as lost.

Word spread quickly!  Recipients not only reached out to us, but were asking each other about our communique. Even our employees’ busy relatives from around the country were curious (and a bit confused).

Each year millions of dollars are spent on research & development and in search of the next great innovation. But never have these investments produced a response as instantaneous as this e-blast.  Custom target lists have been both purposely created (and at times purchased) based on specific criteria but neither these lists nor the well-crafted subject lines, detailed content, nor calls-to-action have generated replies on par with this instance.

So what’s the secret?  What motivated so many in our database to express interest in what we sent?  Well, it was FOCA – Fear of Cyber Attack!

We were hacked. 

While I’m tempted to publicly pronounce that we have a variety of cyber security protocols in place so nobody thinks our firm is oblivious or uncaring about, the reality is that corporations with much more to hide (and presumably far more elaborate IT infrastructures) have also been hacked.

The e-mails looked real.  They were cleverly disguised as originating from legitimate staff members’ accounts.  For many recipients the reference to “invoice” in the subject line wouldn’t be wholly unreasonable – although it’s not how we do it.

The responses fell into one of three varieties and actually stretched over a week or more:

  • (Before I open it) Is this real?
  • I wanted to let you know you’ve been hacked.
  • What do we owe you money for?!

So my fellow marketing strategists, here’s the question: If the fear of receiving a digital virus was motivation for some responses and the desire to help was the motivation for others, how do we bottle and repeat those motivators when we really have something to share?


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