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Case Study: How A CEO Monitors And Responds To Criticism

Two weeks ago I discovered an email marketing company called BombBomb. The thrust of their marketing message, according to their website, is that they specialize in video email. In other words, they provide a platform that allows you to embed video in your email marketing so people can watch a video rather than (or in additon to) reading the text of your email. Sounds great…except that it doesn’t really work like that, or at least it hasn’t in the past. So I decided to test them.

Is Email In Video Even Possible?
Watching a video in your email has been a desire for quite a while. The problem has been that email services don’t pull video feeds like a website does. The work-around for a long time has been to post a picture of the video in the email and when the reader clicked it, the video would open in the reader’s web browser. It’s not video in your email. It’s more like video linked from your email. But what I thought BombBomb was saying was that they had a way to get around this and I wanted to see if they were legit or doing what everyone else was.

I signed up to see a demo and what I got was exactly what I’ve seen everyone else do. It was an email with an image of a video that opened in my web browser. That’s not a big deal except for the fact that this company seemed to be telling people that they had a solution around this.

From my perspective they we doing the same thing all the other email companies do and trying to sell it as a new and unique service. They were misleading people coming to their site. So I Tweeted a warning: 

Notice I didn’t mention them by name. I felt like I should just post a word of warning to my friends and followers but I didn’t think it warranted me calling them out by name. In the hour that followed this Tweet I got a few “I’m with you on that” kind of responses. Then I got a Tweet from my friend Kyle in San Antonio:


Hmm. The very company I was concerned about was being recommended for doing the thing I thought they failed at. Clearly something was going on here and I didn’t know what to think about it. Until…

The CEO Listens And Responds
I got an email from the BombBomb Founder and CEO, Conor McCluskey. Within a half hour of Kyle’s Tweet there was a message in my inbox from Conor. Apparently he saw Kyle’s Tweet and then found my original Tweet. He then saw in his own database that I had just tried the demo service and he put the two together.

In Conor’s email he confirmed that video doesn’t play in all inboxes and he asked for feedback about their messaging. He left his cell phone number in the email so I called him.

We talked for about 20 minutes and it turns out the way BombBomb does their video service, video actually does play within the email in about 30% of email clients today. So, my original Tweet about “no such thing as video email” was not as sweeping as I thought.

Still, I told Conor that I believe they’re setting themselves up to lose if they emphasize their video services so strongly yet it only works for 30% of the people. He listened to my feedback and said it gave him something to think about. It was a great call and I understood more about the email marketing business and he understood the perception I felt his company was creating.

A bit later there was even a Tweet to me from the BombBomb account:


How To Listen Like BombBomb
I have to admit, as a social media marketing guy I talk about this all the time but it’s really nice to see a company doing this well. Conor’s using Google Alerts to monitor mentions of his company and that’s how he found Kyle’s Tweet responding to me.

Conor took a position as one who wants to listen first rather than defend a position. That’s huge. In a world where the deer have guns now, the best posture a business can take is to listen, understand, and then respond appropriately. I really commend Conor for emailing me and asking for feedback. I hope it was helpful to him.

As your organization works through all the aspects of the newly empowered consumer voice, consider listening and responding like BombBomb. You never know, you might just get an advocate out of it.