Marketing without Permission – Lessons Ecademy need to learn

Ecademy e-mail to Richard TubbI received an odd e-mail yesterday. It was an message inviting me to connect on Business e-Networking site, Ecademy, and it was sent from… me!

Now I’ve had an Ecademy account for a number of years after being invited to join by a colleague, but never really used the site. For those not familiar with it, think of Ecademy as similar in nature to the much more popular business networking site LinkedIn.

Frankly, I could count on one hand the number of people who I know and do business with who do use Ecademy. The only other connection requests I’ve ever had on the site weren’t in any way relevant to me or my business – they simply felt like automated messages from people “friend collecting” – thus I rarely visited the site.

But this e-mail disturbed me. It clearly stated it came from “Richard Tubb” (me!) although I’d given no such permission for such an e-mail to be sent out. If I’d mistakenly received this e-mail, how many more people in my network had also received such a message? A message that most would consider to be Spam.

Twitter feed of Ecademy complaintsIt appears I wasn’t the only person who felt Ecademy had over-stepped their mark by sending unsolicited emails to their network . After posting a message to Twitter expressing surprise at the e-mail I received, I got responses back from others, and a quick Twitter search for “Ecademy Spam” shows that Ecademy have annoyed quite a few people.

 

Twitter messages to EcademySo I, and a lot of other folk are already feeling very angry towards Ecademy. The folks at Ecademy have a Twitter account though, so they’re aware of the fact their brand is being hammered publically by all the @ecademy messages, and have an opportunity to try and work with people to apologise and explain what had happened.

Ecademy on TwitterWrong. Not only has the @ecademy Twitter account not been updated since July 2010, even at the time it was actively being used the people at Ecademy don’t seem to have grasped that Twitter is a channel for two-way conversations – listening and responding – not just for pumping out marketing messages.

Lesson number one – nothing winds people up more than not being acknowledged. If you provide a channel to contact you, such as Twitter, then maintain it and respond in a timely fashion to the messages you receive. If you’re not going to maintain that channel, better to close it down altogether than to give people the impression they can use it to contact you when the reality is a response will never come.

I closed my Ecademy account down (you can find out how to close your Ecademy account here) and I’d like to apologise to anyone who received a spam invite from Ecademy that carried my name. The damage is, of course, done – for both my own personal brand, and Ecademy.

Lesson number two – as my friend Jeremy Epstein says, “Revelance is credibilty, and Brand is all about credibility”.

What is Ecademy’s brand credibility like right now? Ecademy ignored the primary rule of successful Internet marketing, only send anticipated, personalised and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

Ignore this rule, and chances are that you’ll do damage to your reputation.

It’s a lesson Ecademy badly need to learn, and something anybody involved in Internet marketing would be wise to remember to make sure they don’t make the same mistake Ecademy made.

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them feel in control and grow their businesses. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL). You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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7 Responses to “Marketing without Permission – Lessons Ecademy need to learn”


  1. 1 tubblog February 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

    UPDATE:- I e-mailed Ecademy this morning to ask them to provide details of all the contacts of mine they’d e-mailed in this way.

    To their credit, they responded immediately with a list of contacts of mine, enabling me to now get in touch with those people (many of whom I’ve not spoken to in years – the data was very old) and apologise for the spam they’ve received. They also assured me that my account had now been closed and that my contacts data would be deleted.

  2. 2 jikahn February 23, 2011 at 6:11 am

    I had a similar experience (http://blog.jeremykahn.co.uk/?p=289). Check also twitter@thomaspower or read his 50 word self-summary at http://www.ecademy.com/account.php?id=8 (keep a bucket to hand).

    • 3 tubblog February 23, 2011 at 8:20 am

      Jeremy – thanks for the comment. I’ve had a lot of e-mails and Tweets from other people who’ve been caught by Ecademy spam in the same way as you and I too. The frustrating thing is of course, that whomever gets spammed does so in *your* name. To Ecademy’s credit, they promptly responded to my request for information on who they’d spammed so that I could contact these people to apologise – but they did not apologise to me for the spam itself (presumably because it’s a tactic they’re not ashamed of, and will continue to justify and use).

  3. 4 Harald Felgner February 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Hi Richard

    Thanks for your thorough explanation of the incident – the same happened to me last week 😦

    http://www.felgner.ch/2011/02/891-identity-theft-or-please-ignore-your-ecademy-invitation.html

    Three questions:

    1. Which channel did you use to reach Ecadamy? A support ticket? A mail to Thomas Power?

    2. Did Ecademy reply how your contacts got onto the list of unsolicited invitations in the first place?

    3. Did you discuss a possibility to remove the addresses without closing the account? http://blog.jeremykahn.co.uk/?p=289 reads as if further invitations might happen after closing the account?

    Cheers, Harald

    • 5 tubblog February 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Harald – thanks for reaching out to me, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced your own troubles with Ecademy.

      The e-mail I wrote to Ecademy was sent to “webmaster@ecademy.com” and said the following:-

      “I understand that all personal data you hold about individuals is processed by The Ecademy in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

      I’d like to request information on the data you hold about me.

      I’ve had an free Ecademy account for a number of years now in the name of “Richard Tubb” using e-mail address “” and more recently “”. I closed this account on 17th February, 2011.

      Over the past 48 hours it has come to my attention that without my permission you have sent e-mails to a number of my contacts asking them to sign up for an Ecademy account and to connect with me. These e-mails, entitled “Your invitation from Richard Tubb to connect on Ecademy” in my opinion give the impression that I have either sent them personally or that I have asked Ecademy to send them on my behalf, neither of which is true.

      I’d like to request that you provide me with a full list of the contacts that that these e-mails have been sent to, so I may contact them directly to explain the confusion.

      If you could advise me how to proceed, I’d appreciate it.”

      The response I had back from Ecademy was very prompt, and simply said:-

      “Your account was deleted yesterday. This will prevent any further invitations from you. We retain the data for a short while in case it needs to be resurrected before deleting it permanently. If you would like this done immediately, that can be done.

      Here is the list of email addresses who received an invitation from your account in the last few days.”

      It wasn’t signed by anybody, and there was no apology or explanation of how my contacts got onto the invitation list. I strongly suspect though, based on the contacts in my case, that they were harvested from Hotmail or Windows Live Messenger. They were *very* dated, some 4 years or more old.

      I take it from the above statement from Ecademy to me that no further invites will be sent out at all.

      I’d be very disappointed indeed if that proved not to be the case.


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Marketing without Permission – Lessons Ecademy need to learn « TubbBlog -- Topsy.com Trackback on February 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

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