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Epicurious Doesn't Want To Hear From ME

A regular reader writes:

    I love Epicurious – I go there daily. A few days ago I got an email from them asking me to participate in a survey. I don’t usually do surveys, but since Epicurious is a site I use and the idea of maybe getting money from a credible source like AMEX sounded good so I decided I had a moment to spare (ha) and started the survey. After the third page is was clear to me that this wasn’t about improving their site or my needs to cook – it was about credit cards! I think less of Epicurious now. In my mind and probably that of many others, this diminishes their reputation and my trust in them. If One Degree is looking for examples of what not to do to your regular readers, this is a great one!

Interesting. Look at the survey message our reader forwarded:   

Subject: Wants to Hear from You sponsored e-mail
Dear member, We need your help! We’re always looking for ways to provide you with content that you care about. Please help us out by answering a few questions in our brief survey. As a thank-you for your participation, you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of three American Express Gift Cheques valued at $3,000, $1,000 or $750! Access the survey at:
Thank you, The Team

Not too bad, although I can see at least three things that could be immediately improved. Can you spot them? Add your suggestions in the comments below. Still, no matter how well-crafted the email is, the experience of completing the survey clearly left this faithful site visitor discouraged and upset. Upset enough to take those feelings of being tricked public.


  1. mose
    mose January 24, 2007

    Ken, don’t know the three you see but for my money it would be:
    1. Personalization
    2. From somebody
    3. Could/should be written in a DM copy style
    – you could
    – If you do such and such
    That being said – without being rude, how does the “wronged” reader think all the “Deathly Prose” get onto the page/screen? Advertising.
    Curious has he/she ever seen TV? Read a newspaper?
    They gotta pay the rent and I KNOW although our wronged reader has spent hundreds on their subscription for – well you get my point.
    Relax. It’s a cross promotion. We get ad mail everyday from someone selling your name on a list – and most of them for credit cards. It is how it works. It is how we keep a DM economy thriving. The lettershops, the printers, the agencies and the post office. Why shouldn’t the online arm use the same tactics?
    If we demand that this activity be stopped we better be prepared to live in a hut with a whale oil lamp. No, hold it those were banned by Paul McCartney and his ex… And an even bigger hold on … if a big time celebrity gets divorced do all his protests still stand?
    Now that I want to know about.
    Je digress …
    Oh, and am I the first dissenting comment on One Degree. Although I do love this (And you guys and Gals that labour tirelessly, MWAH, big sloppy hug and kiss!) I don’t think I have ever seen a post that basically said “Hey – your’re wrong!”
    Am I the first? Am I? Do I win sumptin?

  2. RickSpence
    RickSpence January 24, 2007

    I think Mose missed the point. Epicurious is guilty of conning its customer into thinking the survey is coming from Epicurious itself, for its own purposes – when it is really a marketing device from a client.
    We’ve probably all fallen for things like this before, but that doesn’t make it right.
    Marketing that disguises itself as something that it isn’t is wrong – and ultimately self-defeating.
    Look at Edleman’s “roadtrip” blog for Wal-Mart. It might have worked, if the agency hadn’t tried to pass it off as “real” and unbiased.
    Be proud of your message: Don’t hide who it’s from.

  3. Ken Schafer - One Degree
    Ken Schafer - One Degree January 24, 2007

    Hi Pete,
    I was going to give a longer reply, but now I can just say – “what Rick said”.
    The issue was not with ads on the site, or even promotional offers from the site. Rather it was that they were marketing under the guise of doing a survey about the site.
    As for negative comments, there have been thousands but we deleted them all. (kidding).
    In fact we’ve had 1044 comments on the 1207 posts since we started. My guess is that most have been constructive “builds” on what was in the post with less than 10% being outright disagreement.
    Having said that I’d be happy with more comments from dissenters – I can’t believe that all our Contributors reflect the experience of all our readers. Maybe it’s just all us polite Canadians not wanting to offend anyone.
    So sorry, no prize. 🙂

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