They keep trying, but it isn’t working

I keep getting emails from Zenimax, telling me about the great upcoming changes to “Elder Scrolls Online”, or some holiday event, or just a sale they want me to know about. Which is interesting, because I don’t play ESO. I’m not a customer, never have been, although they seem to think otherwise. Each of their emails is worded as though I am a current customer of theirs, and thus would really like to know about all of this exciting news about their game.

The problem is, I played ESO once, for a few hours, during the beta test, and I haven’t touched it since. In fact, the game was installed and deleted from my computer on the same day. Most importantly, I have never, ever, given them a thin dime for any of their content, and I don’t plan to.

So why does Zenimax assume I must be a customer of theirs? Was the beta for ESO so successful that damn near everyone who tried it out also signed up for the game? If it were, I could see my getting caught up in their email strings as though I had followed suit, but here’s the thing: The beta test – at least the one I took part in – wasn’t that successful. I saw near constant complaints in the chat while I was trying the game out, with only a few people defending the game, so I doubt there was a huge rush of people in my beta class to sign up for the game upon release.

Now then, I’m not stupid, I know why Zenimax is sending me emails. They have my address, and as such, they are trying to market to me, as any good online business would. But here’s the thing about that: If they were smart, they would send me emails trying to coax me into joining their service, rather than sending emails that are written for current customers.

Why? What’s the difference?

Simply put, it has to do with mindset. If you are trying to get people to join your service, when they once had a chance to do so but have as yet failed to join, there is clearly a reason for that. Zenimax should know this, and should know that their best bet to win back people who have tried their game but chose not to buy in after beta ended, would be to focus on what has improved since launch, and try to entice them into joining now.

But instead, they are just creating one form of email advertising for all – customer or not – and sending it out en masse. While that is fine for current customers, it isn’t exactly doing anything to entice back former customers, let alone people who have never been customers. And for that last group, the part I am in, these emails are more of an annoyance than anything.

To put it bluntly, this is rather insulting. It assumes that because I once tried their game during the beta, that suddenly I must be desperate for any news I can get about the game, because of course I signed right up, and have never, ever left the game. What these communications don’t do is tell me what has changed with the game, and why I should give ESO another chance.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Zenimax sent out an email once that was directed to my group of people, those who tried it in beta but never joined. That was the announcement of “One Tamriel”, where the game went Buy-to-Play, and the content was overhauled significantly. This did address a lot of changes made to the game since beta closed, and as such was an effective communication for players like me. In fact, it almost got me to buy into ESO, but after the debacle with “The Secret World” turning into a Buy-to-Play game, I decided to wait a bit and see how things worked out.

The point is, Zenimax would be better served by changing their marketing strategy, at least via email. They should sort through their email list, separate out the emails of those who haven’t played the game since beta, as well as those who have left the game more than a year ago, and use directed marketing to try to win those customers over. Sending us the same emails they send to current customers is, as I said before, insulting, and not likely to win us over anytime soon. But moreover, it is just damn lazy on their part, which is only going to serve to drive players like me away from their game.

Just saying.

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